Ali – Underwater
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Occasionally on Thursdays, I post “Throwback” self help articles or book snippets from yesterday’s authors who I feel still have a lot to say. Some of the best self help, motivational, and inspirational books and articles were written before many of us were even born.The following article, written by stage and screen star Lilli Palmer, appeared in the book Words to Live By (1947). The title of the article is I Say What I Think and I’ve typed it in exactly as it appeared in the book.
My mother was born on the river Rhine, where people are gay and easygoing, where they drink much wine and don’t care who likes them. When I was a child I often heard from her a healthy warning, especially when I came crying that someone didn’t like me and demanding to know what I could do to make him or her like me.
“Everybody’s friend is everybody’s fool,” she would say serenely; or sometimes, “Many enemies mean much honor,” or “Where there’s much sun there’s much shadow.”
I have interpreted those ideas in my own way. I don’t set out to antagonize people, or to be aggressive or provocative, but I have never made a special concession just for the purpose of being liked. I’ve spoken my mind even when I knew that what I said might be unpopular, because I believe that to speak your mind is essential, to take part in a controversy is important. It has never been my nature to sit back and keep quiet for fear of treading on somebody’s toes.
The danger of being too sensitive to what others think is strongly illustrated in the play Death of a Salesman. The author makes an important cause of the demoralization of his hero the fact that he cared too much whether he was well liked. He was afraid ever to make an enemy, and this hastened his destruction.
My mother made me immune to that fear in early youth. You can’t go through life only making friends, I realized very soon.
If, for a good cause, you must make an enemy, accept the fact. As long as your conscience is clear, you will find that you have strengthened not only your determination but your character. – Lilli Palmer
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” – William S. Burroughs
The quote above is so completely true that it shouldn’t even be called a quote – it should be called poetic truth or a pretty fact. Every answer we seek is right there within reach. Well within reach, in fact! The answers to our questions are inside us, waiting to be uncovered.
The problem is, we get so busy Googling, asking other people for their opinion, and running around like drunk squirrels that we fail to hear the quiet voice inside. If only our inner voice had a megaphone, maybe we’d hear it FIRST instead of LAST sometimes.
The next time you find yourself wondering about “this” or in a bind over “that,” here are three steps that can help you find your way:
If you still have trouble hearing or uncovering the answer, here’s a trick I’ve relied on nearly as long as I’ve relied on coffee: Imagine that someone you love has the problem you have. Imagine that they’ve come to you…. and that they’re as confused or perplexed as you are now. What would your advice to THEM be?
From where I sit, this advice would be your absolute best because that’s what we always give to those we love. You’ll be amazed at how obvious (and golden) the advice often is.
Like every other rabid fans of The Biggest Loser, two of my daughters (Emily and Stephany) and I were glued to the finale last night. Each season, two of my favorite parts of the finales are:
Everyone looked great and seemed so much happier. Good on them! However, the highlight for me was the sneak peek at the next season, which premieres in just a matter of weeks actually. In the new season, contestants come to the ranch in pairs, Dolvett and someone have a screaming match, Bob nearly kills Santa, Dolvett throws someone out of the gym, Alison unveils an unexpected game-changing twist, and Bob laughs maniacally as he puts the contestants through the grinder.
Sigh. I love this show.
Next season’s theme is intriguing. It’s called “No Excuses,” and the words, alone have me all worked up. As it is, I am not a fan of excuses whatsoever. I try never to rely on them for myself and I absolutely lose patience when other people use them as crutches – especially when their so-called excuses are always the fault of someone else. Seriously? Grow up.
And oftentimes excusing of a fault Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse. ~William Shakespeare
When I mess up, which I’m MORE than capable of doing, I try to make a habit of just being honest. If I forgot to do something, instead of whining about all the things I DID do, I simply say, “Ugh, I forgot.” It’s the truth, and the truth is always FAR less complicated than the hype. If you mess up, say you messed up. If an apology needs to accompany the proclamation, offer it from the heart.
Saying you messed up, and even more importantly saying you’re sorry for it, takes courage, guts, and a great deal of character. Shifting blame or trying to throw camouflage over the mistake comes from a place of intense pride and maybe even a little cowardice. Why people are so afraid of being human is beyond me.
Another area where excuses can trip people up is when they use them to keep from doing something, achieving something, or growing in a particular area. If the the excuse is a legitimate (medical or physical), then it’s not really an excuse as much as it is a reality. I have been blessed with chronic asthma. If I were to go out on a cold morning and jog for any length of time, I’d find myself in a world of hurt. It’s not an excuse, it’s a reality.
However, if I neglect to get on my treadmill because I’m busy updating websites, cleaning house, or trolling Food Network.com – I don’t have a leg to stand on. I refuse to say, “I was just too busy to get on the treadmill today. Man, did I want to, but I was just too busy.” I’d rather just tell the truth: I chose to do other things instead because, apparently, they were more important to me at the time. The only way we can ever hope to change the tune is if we first face the music.
Don’t make excuses – make good. – Elbert Hubbard
Some people bumfuzzle me when they try to make excuses for other people’s behaviors, lack of morals, shortcomings, etc.
For example, if a rude female athlete basically makes an a$$ of herself on national television. She didn’t do so because she was an athlete, because she played a team sport, or because of the position she played. She did it because she chose to. If she has a negative, obnoxious personality and is outrageously rude to people, she chooses to be this way. What she does for a living, what she eats for breakfast, or where she was born do not MAKE her the way she is. She chooses to be the way she is.
It’s true for everyone… as in all of us. We each make our choices, then our choices make us.
Here’s the way I look at it. We all (whether we’re female, male, athletes, chefs….) make these choices just as surely as we brush our own teeth. We are who we are because of these choices. If someone is rude, they choose to be rude. Their profession, hobby, sex, or birthplace does not make them rude. Otherwise, wouldn’t everyone else who has similar traits also be rude?
If an individual is morally bankrupt, it doesn’t matter where he or she was born. Haven’t first-class people walked the exact same streets?
Personally, I think one of the biggest needs in the world today is for everyone to step up and be accountable for their own actions. I don’t think any of us need to make excuses for ourselves, or for anyone else. All of us make our own choices and we should be held accountable for them.
The next time you find yourself attempting to explain why you did or didn’t do something, ask yourself, “Is this an excuse or a reality?” If it’s an excuse, chuck it over your shoulder and move on. Always try to make a WAY rather than an EXCUSE. Finding a WAY will take you places, finding an EXCUSE will keep you where you are.
Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there’s no escape, there’s no excuse, so just suck up and be nice. – Ani Difranco