Acceptance is not a talent you either have or don't have. It's a learned response. My meditation teacher made a great point about the difference between a reaction and a response: You may not have control over your initial reaction to something, but you can decide what your response will be. You don't have to be at the mercy of your emotions, and acceptance can be your first step toward empowerment . . . For me, acceptance has been the cornerstone to my having an emotionally healthy response to my illness.
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There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like. In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you're too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else's situation as you are about your own.
The tension of opposites: Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn't. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.
We've got a form of brainwashing going on in our country... . Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that's what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. MORE IS GOOD. MORE IS GOOD. We repeat it--and have it repeated to us--over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what's really important anymore.
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The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. 2. Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others. 3. Death ends a life, not a relationship. 4. Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live. 5. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too-even when you are in the dark. Even when you're falling. 6. As you grow old, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you'd always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth. It's more than the negative that you're going to die, its also the positive that you understand you're going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.
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So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. There were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is no substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you as I'm sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you're looking for, no matter how much of them you have.
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My contention is that as long as you have other faculties-the emotional, psychological, intuitive faculties-you haven't lost yourself or even diminished yourself. Don't be ashamed when you're physically limited or dysfunctional; don't think that you're any less because of your condition. In fact, I feel I am even more myself than I was before I got this illness because I have been able to transcend many of the psychological and emotional limitations I had before I developed ALS.
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People are only mean when they're threatened... and that's what our culture does. That's what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture.
Now that I'm suffering, I feel closer to people who suffer more than I ever did before. The other night, on TV, I saw people in Bosnia running across the street, getting fired upon, killed, innocent victims....and I just started to cry. I feel their anguish as if it were my own. I don't know any of these people. But - how can I put this? I'm almost......drawn to them.