Ever since I was young, I have collected little sayings and bits of wisdom. It all started in grade school. The classrooms had posters with interesting, thought-provoking comments on them, and they certainly did make me think. Some were funny, some serious, but they did direct your thoughts in a way they might not have gone otherwise. I liked that. A lot.
When I became a teenager, I started writing them down. I had collected all sorts of phrases, poems, and short stories of wisdom and I felt it would be good to write them all down in one place. I was surprised at how many I had then, and I am still collecting them over thirty years later. Once in awhile, I go back and read the old ones. A few of them I have written myself.
I have found these bits of wisdom in all sorts of places. In books, songs, on the web, television, daily calendars. I have had a Zen daily calendar for years, and I am always surprised by the people I think of when I read that day’s gem. Sometimes the message is clearly for me, something I need to remember, or figure out. Many times the message is something I wish my children could read, because it is particularly inspiring or encouraging. When they were home, I used to put quotes on the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets where they would be seen often, in hopes that the children would recognize these wise words and apply them to their lives. I hope they realize that posting these moments of enlightenment took the place of (what they might have considered) a lecture on the subject.
Now my children have homes of their own, but I still find a way to get the wisdom out there with face book. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a way to network with others, to connect and share comments, photos, videos, and other interesting things using the internet. You can also post what’s called a status, which is usually a comment on how your day is going, but you can share almost anything in that spot. I am friends with a lot of young people, so I often will use this space to send out words of encouragement in hopes that it will help in some small way with the teen angst they are dealing with.
I find that when you have these words in front of you and read them often, they stay in your head longer and eventually become a part of you. They say the universe keeps teaching you a lesson until you have learned it… and then you move on to the next lesson. And every once in awhile, I have something that I need to learn badly, so I try to help the process along by keeping a particularly applicable quote nearby at all times. I have put these up on my bulletin board at work, in my wallet (where the credit cards are), on my desk, on the dashboard of my car, and on the mirror in my bathroom. They help keep me centered on what’s important.
Most of these places are private, but I have taken a bit of flack for having them up in my bathroom. My stepmother was visiting one day and after using the bathroom commented that she just didn’t have time to do all that reading in there. There are less than a dozen quotes on my bathroom mirror, but for someone who doesn’t post anything on their own mirror, that’s probably quite a lot. I really didn’t mind her comments, though, because those quotes have helped me through a lot of difficult times.
An important place, that bathroom. The day begins there, and I spend a fair amount of time there getting ready for my day. So the first messages I see to start my day are these wonderful messages of encouragement and support. Sometimes I find myself talking back to them, if I am a bit grouchy. Sometimes things are more easily said than done, and often I will lose the faith, so I growl back at them and it makes me feel a bit better. After all, the point is to try. Nothing changes if you don’t try.
I don’t always explain what my quotes mean. Depending on where people are in their lives and what their experiences have been, they might relate to the words in a completely different way than I would. And hearing what my thoughts are would color their interpretation, and I might steal the opportunity for them to learn something about themselves. Sometimes the sayings in my Zen calendar mean absolutely nothing to me, and that’s okay. It’s something I don’t need to learn just yet, but at some point the light will click on and the message will be clear.
I love to learn, and these moments of wisdom help me learn about myself, understand others and to remember that no one is perfect. We all attempt things and fail, and that’s not a bad thing. The important thing is to keep on trying.
Try this for yourself. Is there something in your life you want more of? What you focus on grows, so get whatever it is you wish for in front of your face where you can see it often. Ghandi said, “Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.”
Wow, who knew? So go ahead, start using your bathroom mirror and start shaping your destiny. Imagine the possibilities.
Originally published May 18, 2012