I hope that I can call you friends by now, given that this is my eighth post in the series. For those who don’t know me already, welcome. My name is Sapphire Dalton, and I am a healer, circuit judge and supporting character in Martine Cullum’s trilogy, The POISE Archives. In this series of ‘In Character’ blog posts, I have been looking at inspirational quotes and exploring more deeply how we can use these inspiring words to really make positive changes in our lives.
Looking at today’s quote from the tenacious Helen Keller, the first question that comes to mind is ‘What does it mean to do our best?’ The second, is what is meant here by miracles? I’m not going to relate this piece to Keller herself but will attempt to bring this quote into the twenty first century where it can apply to followers of all religions, and to scientists, and atheists alike.
Doing the Best we can.
1. What does it mean to do our best?
The obvious answer is to give 100% all the time, in everything we do. As those annoying little meerkats say ‘Simples!’ But no, not so simples. Imagine giving 100% to boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, whilst your two-year-old is climbing on the sofa with a pencil in his hand. There are times in our lives when we have to multi-task. The closest we can get to this 100% ideal and still keep our sanity, is to follow the technique of Mindfulness at times that are appropriate. This technique helps us to focus on what we are doing, to experience our actions in the moment and in full, to be more aware.
So instead of going down the ‘I must give everything my all’ route, let’s explore another way of doing our best.
2. What are your strengths?
We all have strengths, and everyone’s strengths are different. Take the time to think about yours. Make a list, you might surprise yourself. If you are having difficulty getting started, take a peek at this article on transferable skills, then set about your own list. Once you have your list, think about how you could use those skills in different ways to make either your life, or the life of someone else, a little better.
3. Where are your weaknesses?
Yes, we do have to look at our weaknesses too. The last thing we want to do is to set ourselves up to fail, so it is important to be honest about the reality of who we are and what we are capable of. So, what is it that you are not so good at? Make another list. These are the areas in which you may need to get some help, depending on what it is you want to do, which leads me nicely on to…
4. It’s ok to ask for support.
If you are anything like me, you have gone through life thinking that you must do everything on your own, to prove yourself. I learned quite late in life that this is not the case. Instead of thinking that others would see me as weak if I asked for help, I recognised the pleasure it gave me to help others and realised that, in not asking for help, I was denying other people that same pleasure.
Maybe you feel differently about asking for help, we are all unique beings after all, but it is important to find a way to accept help when you need it.
So, how to go about doing your best.
Having explored what it means to do our best, and what skills we have at our disposal to achieve it, it is time to look at what to do with that information.
5. Give yourself a fighting chance.
You have the spark of an idea that could help to make a difference in your life, or someone else’s life. That’s great. So, what are you going to do about it?
Keeping in mind your list of strengths, you may need to plan, to set goals, and to look into the viability of what you want to do. We’re not talking about a business here (well, we could be but that’s not going to apply to everyone), but we need to really think about what we plan to do, and the possible consequences of our actions.
Remember too, that not everything has to be planned. If you decide that from today onward you are going to smile at everyone you meet and say ‘hello’ in a friendly manner, just in case it makes their day, you really don’t need a plan for that. Just do it, but do it everyday.
6. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Eric Berne, psychologist and founder of the communication theory and practice ‘Transactional Analysis’, believed that giving people ‘positive strokes’ was the way for individuals to thrive.
Being told you have done a good thing, that a parent, teacher, or employer is proud of what you have achieved, or even that you have turned out OK, are all positive strokes.
Sometimes, these strokes are not forthcoming, especially when we don’t shout about what we do, so make sure that you give yourself a positive stroke whenever you deserve one. Tell yourseIf you have done well, give yourself a pat on the back, acknowledge your achievements. If you would like to know more about Eric Berne’s ideas on Transactional Analysis, you can read more here.
7. How will you know you have done your best?
The truth is that this will not always be evident in the results. Despite your best efforts, sometimes other people will not change, they will make the wrong decisions, they will disappoint you. And that is OK. You are not doing this to make someone different to how and who they are. All you are doing with your actions, your guidance, your kindness, is to offer them choices. The choice will always be theirs to make, and that is the way it should be.
If you have given what you are able, with kindness in your heart and without expectation of something in return, you have done your best. It is important that you do not let another person’s actions destroy your resilience. Remain optimistic and continue doing your best for everyone and everything, wherever you are able.
Miracles are all around us.
What is a miracle? According to my trusty Chambers Dictionary, a miracle is ‘an event or act which breaks the law of nature, esp. one attributed to a deity or supernatural force…’
I am in awe of such events, and they fill me with a joy that comes from the confirmation that there is more to this world than we experience in our mundane lives.
However, in the context of what we have been looking at here, and I believe most likely how Helen Keller intended her words to be understood, is that when thinking about miracles, we have a choice. We can choose to think of them as the dictionary has laid out, or, as I do, choose to believe that everything in life is a miracle, starting with the miracle of nature.
If we are going to think about how our best efforts can create miracles, we are not going to be talking about the grand scale that the miracles of religious texts refer to, but the everyday miracles that we can have some influence over. It may be easier to equate the word ‘miracle’ here, with ‘positive change’.
Is it not a miracle to be able to turn a lonely person’s day around just by spending a few minutes talking with them? Maybe not for you, but it could well be for them.
If a parent or teacher really takes the time to understand and help a difficult child, that child’s whole life will be affected positively.
If illness or disability finds you, and you are able to see that as the universe showing you a different, but just as important path, rather than believing your life is over, is that not a miracle, too?
Just doing our bit to make the world a better place.
These things happen all the time, we just need to open our eyes to them, allow ourselves to relate to their joy or purpose. We can use them to identify what we ourselves can do to make this world a better place, for us and for others.
As Helen Keller’s quote suggests, we may not know what positive changes, what miracles, we are creating in this world, either in our own lives or in the lives of those we touch, but if we go through life doing the best that we can, remain optimistic and resilient to disappointment, we can be sure that we are making a difference.
If you would like to join the ‘But Once’ virtual healing group, sending positive energies out into the world, feel free to join us. You will find the details on Martine’s website. The subscription is free, and as a subscriber of the site you will receive newsletters and updates from Martine.
Have a wonderful week and do what you can to make the world a better place.
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