“Open your eyes to the beauty around you. Open your mind to the wonders of life. Open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself.”
—Maya Angelou, late American poet, memoirist, civil rights activist
Only four presidents — John F. Kennedy in 1961, Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013, and Joe Biden in 2021 — have included poets in their inaugurations. Maya Angelou was one of those six poets. I hope her nuggets of wisdom in today’s quote resonates for you.
Please take a look and explore the work of these six poets, and the messages for their time in history:
2021: Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”
2013: Richard Blanco, “One Today”
2009: Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day”
1997: Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope”
1993: Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”
1961: Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright”
“The truth is in you. How much room do you give it?”
—Laurent F. Carrel, Founding Partner of Carrel & Partner
Image from Unsplash by S&B Vonlanthen
Imagine you are about to embark on a hike along the Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail, or Camino De Santiago De Compostela. You have trained for months, eaten all your veggies to lose those extra pounds, and freed up your calendar.
In the process of packing your gear with what you consider the essentials, you find that it feels like you’re wearing an elephant.
Where is your life over-packed and wearing you down? Where do you need to unclutter your head and heart and make more room for your truth?
What actions can and will you take today to live your truth even more fully?
“There is nothing wrong with being wrong.”
—Mokokoma Mokhonoana, philosopher & social critic
In his classic work, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius said:
If anyone can prove and show to me that I think and act in error, I will gladly change it – for I seek the truth, by which no one has ever been harmed. The one who is harmed is the one who abides in deceit and ignorance.
To what degree are you and those around you seekers of truth? To what extent do you embrace the facts – or in current terms, embrace the science – to help you make better decisions in your personal and professional activities?
Holding our thoughts up to the light of day and greater wisdom beyond our current views can help all of us come together, improve our relationships, and perhaps solve many of the challenges facing our world.
What would happen if no one was ashamed or reluctant to change their mind in the light of new information? Where and with whom would admitting you were wrong and apologizing be the right thing to do?
“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
—Wallace Stevens, 20th Century American modernist poet
Image from Unsplash by Greeshma Gangadharan
In recent months, I’ve had considerably more time to think. My daily routines have changed a bit with my health club closing, and working from home.
Instead of my normal fitness efforts I have introduced a 50-minute walk. Although it is not around a lake, it allows for significant, peaceful contemplative time.
Although I am getting plenty of steps and fresh air, of greater interest and value seems to be my mental, emotional, and spiritual explorations. Taking this time to look far more closely and clearly at the truths of my life and our world has been profound.
Consider taking a walk around your own lake or neighborhood and see what truths are revealed. Feel free to reply to this post and let me know what you discover.
“A lie never lives to be old.”
—Sophocles, ancient Greek tragedian
Image from Unsplash by Bahram Bayat
How well do you sleep at night? How much do you like who you see when you look in the mirror? To what degree do you keep secrets, fib a bit to spare someone’s feelings, or perhaps keep silent on one or more of your most important beliefs?
Such behaviors are becoming increasingly difficult to hide due to our gossip-starved, always on, hyper-connected world. The media actually keeps count of out-and-out lies, half truths, and perceptional sleight-of-hands many politicians and celebrities exhibit.
Beyond the idea that lies never live to be old, consider the actual aging caused by the insidious toxic effect for all of us when exposed.
Where in either your personal or professional life would greater truth set you and others free, so you can get a much better night’s sleep?
“Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”
Image from Unsplash by Ricardo Mancia
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,” said the lead character in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, using the metaphor of death to describe how a person feels when they avoid or run away from a challenge.
In such circumstances, we all die a little when we shrink back from the core values and personal truths that are the basis of our personal power and character.
Where and on what personal or professional matters have you been silent? When has fear of failure or being judged by others stopped you from stepping up and voicing your truth?
What has this silence cost you? What would be possible if you spoke up even with a bit of shaking?
“If all it took to upend the status quo was the truth, we would have changed a long time ago.”
—Seth Godin, American Author
In Seth Godin’s newest book, This is Marketing, he suggests that to be effective, all marketers must have the courage to create tension. Some people actively seek tension because it works to push or pull those we hope to serve over the gap from the present to a better future.
For those who resist change and prefer the relative comfort of the status quo, these influences/marketing messages fall on deaf ears. In such cases, the truth does not set us free, for fear of whatever future we wish to avoid.
Godin suggests that the status quo doesn’t shift because something is true, it shifts because culture changes, and the engine of culture is status.
Examine where you and others in your personal and professional communities embrace change and find yourself open and receptive to the abundance of marketing messages coming your way. Where might saying yes and embracing such new ways of thinking or acting improve your status?
“These are the things that our souls metabolize to be healthy: we need beauty, we need truth, and we need goodness.”
—John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
Did you know that the human body can go for more than three weeks without food? The maximum time we can go without water is about a week.
Protein, carbohydrates, and fats make up our food and nourish our bodies for optimal health.
Today’s quote suggests that feeding our souls requires beauty, truth, and goodness if we are to flourish and thrive.
What is it that you hunger for? What do your body and soul need most for optimal health? How would incorporating greater beauty, truth, and goodness in each day enrich and improve your life?
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Listed below are eleven synonyms for the word “deceit.” How many of these are you seeing in the world these days?
- False/Fake information
- Unprincipled behavior
- Machiavellian behavior
What other words would you add to this list? Who are the individuals that fit these descriptive qualities? To what extend do they influence your world?
How can you be an even more revolutionary force for good in your personal and professional communities, to bring greater truth and integrity to the world?
“Live Simply, Love Generously, Speak Truthfully, Breathe Deeply, Do Your Best. Leave everything else to the powers above you.”
Life is complicated.
Or is it?
It seems the rules of the game are as long and laborious as the new tax code or other governmental regulations.
Far too often, we find our heads spinning and our spirits crushed by the overwhelming effort to sort through the complexities.
Who doesn’t crave far greater peace of mind, simplicity, and tranquility in our rat-race world?
Consider the five fundamental touch points in today’s quote as guides to inform your daily efforts to lead a far happier and satisfying life.
What would be possible if we all did this, and left the rest to the powers above?