People like Edith highlight some of the basic flaws in the way humanity around the world thinks. Her life story illustrates the causes of much pain and suffering in her drive and her excesses.
Edith Piaff was forced to sing for her living at a very young age and in it discovered her passion. Like so many famous people she worked intensely at her craft, she put in long hours, day after day and along the way had a few ‘lucky’ breaks.
My definition of luck is, -where inspiration meets opportunity. It is the natural occurrence of a thought pattern adhered to with absolute conviction. Edith had this to the degree that when opportunity came into her life she was ready; she seized it. She was as clear about what she would not do as she was about what she would do. She made her life.
Unfortunately she fell into the struggle and reward pattern that is so humanly common. It is possibly the easiest negative and destructive pattern to get drawn into. It follows a thought process something like this; “I worked hard this week, I put out a lot and I deserve a reward.” On the surface that looks like a normal healthy pattern. It is not! That thought pattern is likely the leading single cause of disease in our society. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothes; negativity wrapped in the shrouds of sensibility.
Many will tell us that as long as we use moderation the reward is acceptable, many will argue that after doing hard work, of course we deserve a reward. That is like saying “after the war we will have earned our peace.”
We don’t need war to justify peace, peace stands on its own merits. If a thing truly is good it is not a reward but rather a natural unfolding of right action, it needs no justification. If a thing is not good then no amount of justification will make it good.
How often do we reward ourselves with some form of poison for suffering through an ‘unpleasant’ situation? Do you go out for a couple drinks at the end of the week? Do reward yourself with that cigarette or cup of Java? How many of us tell ourselves we’ve been good and deserve that cheesecake, donut or other sweet treat reward? We likely all do it at some time or another. That doesn’t make it right or healthy.
Just because all of society says wrong action and thinking is all right it remains wrong. Of course when ‘they all’ do it we do find it very enticing. In fact almost every day when I walk home from work I pick up a sweet for the walk.
It’s not the sweet, the coffee, the drink or even the smoke that is the underlying problem. It’s simply the pattern of thinking. The suffering – reward syndrome the world has bought into. That is the cycle we must break, that is the thinking which leads to addiction and many of the most common diseases of our world. And it all starts with “I have to…”. You fill in the blank. What do you think you have to do? What sorts of things do you tell someone they need to do? Every time we think in this way we make work out of creativity, we turn our pleasures into pain and often justify some form of poison as a reward.
What an incredibly warped way of thinking; and it is rampant in the world around us.
It is no wonder that medical costs in our world continue to escalate from year to year. Most of us in this ‘free world’ have imposed upon ourselves a perpetual war inside. We tell ourselves; I have to get up! I have to go to work! I have to take the kids to school, make dinner and meet my evening engagement. We tell ourselves we must get together with family and friends. We have to buy each other presents for every holiday. Our culture creates an endless flow of obligations, each one imposing just a little bit of pressure on our psyches. And then we wonder why on earth we always get run down. What an effort it is to maintain such a heavy ‘must’ list.
Is there anything we don’t have to do? Yes! In truth we don’t ‘have to’ do any of it. In truth we ‘get to’ do all of it because we live in an incredible world of choices and opportunities. We get to go to work; we even get to choose the type of work we will go to. We can change our minds and do something new, only having to deal with natural consequences of learning curve in our new profession. We get to have children and raise them the way we believe is right and we get to create for them opportunities we may not have enjoyed. We are all blessed beyond measure; even the least of us has opportunities that most of the world can only dream of. And best of all we have within ourselves the capacity to make this richness available to all people everywhere.
Every one of us has the opportunity to live in happiness; we don’t have to reward ourselves to a crippling death with poisons, for work we have chosen to fulfill ourselves with. All we really need to do is remind ourselves that, “This is something I get to do.” Or we can choose to change.
It may not be that easy to bring joy into our lives but it really is that simple.