Here are some quotes that inspire me. I hope they will inspire, hearten or comfort you too:
Where to put your energy
“Worrying is only praying for stuff you don’t want,” Mildred Richards. But how do we drive those worrying thoughts out of our heads? An answer comes from another quote, “I will never attend an anti-war rally. If you have a peace rally, invite me,” Mother Theresa.
Telling yourself to stop thinking about your worries is you thinking some more about your worries. Right now, don’t think about an apple. What popped into your head? An image of an apple, right? If you really don’t want to think about an apple, think about a banana. As for worries, think about what you do want—good health, being on time for your appointment, a good annual work review, etc. Visualize those good things happening.
Of course, some worries are legitimate, and require that you stay informed and take action. There’s a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea. You live near the Gulf or Atlantic coast. Stock up on supplies and check the forecast periodically. Imagine that storm heading into the open Atlantic and blowing itself out far from land. Then, occupy your mind with something different, preferably upbeat, like a funny movie.
Distressed about the war in Ukraine? Donate to a reputable relief organization. (Be careful, there are scams out there.) Then, imagine that country repaired, rebuilt and green.
Expand Your Thinking
Our brains are naturally attracted to simple, either-or concepts. We naturally characterize others as either good (OK to be around) or bad (fearsome, people to avoid). Fear, however, doesn’t only trigger avoidance. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering,” Yoda/George Lucas
It makes sense to follow fear’s prompt to avoid certain people, toxic people. But the key to healing polarization in our society is better communication between people who lean toward different beliefs but are not ranting extremists. “There is no one so bad but they never did anything good, and there is no one so good that they never did anything bad,” Me. Begin by talking about non-controversial subjects. Recognize the good in others and build on that. For more specifics on how to lead into and talk about sensitive issues, see Women Can Renew the World IF…and So Can You.
Narrow Your Thinking
“Don’t let your options be your burdens,” Rebecca Heiss’s grandmother. Dr. Heiss writes about how modern life contains so many options that we can feel overwhelmed with indecision. We put pressure on ourselves to choose “the right” car, job, make up, clothing, home. I have long believed that, often, there is no one “right” choice. If we make a choice, and it doesn’t work out perfectly, we tend to think, “If only I had chosen the other car or whatever, everything would be just fine now.” Far more likely, if we had chosen a different car, it might be better in some ways but worse in others. Don’t frustrate yourself by expecting perfection. Also, see Instinct.
Believe in Yourself
I have several favorite quotes from The Lord of the Rings movies.
The elven queen Galadriel said, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” This encourages me to keep teaching and writing, even though I could retire.
Lest I become overwhelmed with the idea of single-handedly changing the future, the wizard Gandalf provides some perspective with, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Here’s another quote from Gandalf in the first movie of The Hobbit trilogy: “Saruman (a wizard who goes bad) believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keep the darkness at bay, simple acts of kindness and love.”
Which of these quotes is you favorite, and why?