Spring is here! I hope everyone got to experience the beautiful weather over the weekend. I heard from some of you about your 5 frequent positive actions to conquer the negativity and it was very inspiring – please keep the emails coming!
I have been thinking a lot about Santosha and complete contentment with myself and with others. It brings me to our “stories”. We all have a story. Our stories are filled with heartache, love, failures, accomplishments, all our stuff. Sometimes we get stuck focusing on what didn’t go our way (there is that negative bias again), or we create patterns from our experiences – since this hasn’t happened or didn’t work out x amount of times, then I’m not trying again. And this creates limits.
There is no way we can find contentment with ourselves if we place limits. We do it with others too. We meet someone and sometimes our brain starts making assumptions.
I remember my interview process at Prudential. I was in my early 20’s and I spent the day being asked many questions and finally passed up to the VP of Information Technology for a job as a financial analyst. As I sat in front of this Vice President of Information Technology, such a lofty title, I noticed the ring on her finger and it was beautiful. It was a sapphire stone in an emerald cut with two diamond trillions on each side, I can still see it. She looked like she was pregnant (I said nothing) and I immediately started creating a story as she reviewed my resume. I thought to myself it wasn’t a typical engagement ring so maybe her husband gave it to her as an anniversary present. And I started imagining their life, what did he do, did they have other children, where did they live? Lots of questions and assumptions entered my mind. After I accepted the position and was working for a few months with her, I was invited to our department party where we could invite our significant others. Turns out she was pregnant, with her third child, and her husband I had imaged was imaginary – she had a wife. (Really her partner, because same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in NJ then.) I remember feeling judgemental and presumptuous to make up such a story about someone I knew nothing about. About a year later, after we were closer, I told her about how I made up that story and she told me she made up a story based on how I looked and dressed. At the time I had a very short haircut almost shaved sides of my head and just like now, I dressed in mostly black – she made the assumption that I was gay. I can tell you this – we laughed for a long time and we made a promise to each other not to make up stories anymore but instead to be more present in our interactions with others.
That’s a harmless story and one that I hold so close because I learned so much from that initial experience and much more throughout my 11-year career at Prudential. We know there are plenty of stories that we can create that are much more harmful to others and to ourselves.
Here is what I believe, there has to be a balance. There are parts of my story that I do not like, but without those parts I would not be here, sitting in my kitchen, writing this blog. Every part of our story has helped shape us into who we are today. In order to create the contentment, the story doesn’t have to change, but the filter in which we view our story, the way in which we tell it, could change. What is your story? Do you create a story for those you’ve never met? How much do you rely on your story to dictate how you make decisions? Let me know!!!