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Others have trodden the path—and spoken well about it
While paying homage to Rev. Martin Luther King last month, I came across some quotes from Dr. King, and was reminded, yet again, of how wisdom is passed down through the ages by way of inspirational sayings from those we admire. Dr. King was certainly one of our modern sages, as he guided us with many memorable and inspiring words, giving countless people something to hold onto, during good times as well as during times of oppression. Across my desk, among the many pearls of wisdom from Dr. King, came a new one (to me): “Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
While no doubt we are all familiar with at least some of the many layers of practical, psychological, and emotional well-being that comes from helping others—analyst Carl Jung touted the mental health benefit of “finding relief from anguish in action” and encouraged patients to “go out and help another”; Mother Teresa suggested that if we can’t help 1,000 people, to just help one—I hadn’t known that Dr. King proposed the same guidance. And yet, he lived a life devoted to improving the plight of others, so really, why would it come as a surprise?
And here’s what I love about truisms: As the above suggests, the exact same sentiment can be expressed from entirely different sources, and if it’s true for you, it will nonetheless resonate deeply. You may hear it from your spiritual leader, your therapist, or a late-night comic. It may come to you in a dream, or in your weekly horoscope. But when it rings, it rings.
For instance, here’s how Swami Vivekananda expressed this same notion of helping others: “If you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.”
We gain insight, find solace, find out that we’re not alone with our personal brand of suffering, when we hear the voices of others who have journeyed along a similar road, and have chosen to help us by paying forward their lessons learned. I have bookshelves full of guidance from ancient sages through modern masters, and whether life is posing a difficult chapter or an easy one, these quotes keep the learning and the coping fresh. They can help us with self-parenting and cheerleading. They can reduce anxiety, they can offer up an “a-ha” moment. When we feel bereft of having a single other soul who understands, we find a friendly voice in their words.
Toward that end, I offer daily inspirations on Twitter (@DrRickWellNest), and here I want to share with you some of my most recent favorites, in the hope that whatever chapter of life you’re in, there’s something here that can lift you up, provide some inspiration, give you what you need to keep on keeping on…and then maybe you’ll pay it forward and follow Dr. King’s (and others’) advice to help someone else with that which has just given you a moment of grace, a chin-chuck of strength, or a reason to smile.
“Faith: When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon, or, you will be taught how to fly.” — Patrick Overton
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— (misattributed to Mark Twain)
“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works.”
— Leonardo da Vinci
“Truth is not defined by how many people believe something. Ask. Question. Ponder. Think. Decide…for yourself.” — Anonymous
“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval.” — Lama Surya Das
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” — Anonymous
And in an effort to provide solace, inspiration, insight and healing here in our own little corner of the world, Well Nest Chattanooga (my wellness center) is launching our first monthly healing retreat, inspired by the mysteries of love, on Saturday, Feb. 8, from noon to 5. Contact me for more information and to register.