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A New Way of Living

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

There is an illustration of this using two cups, one represents Mrs. Cup and the other Mr. Cup.  Mrs. Cup is filled with turquoise beads and Mrs. cup is filled with white beads.  As we do in any relationship, Mrs. and Mr. Cup collide together in conflict.  And when they collide, their beads come splashing out.  The point of the illustration is that when we are reacting to others in conflict, we typically behave in accordance with what is already inside of us.  If we are filled with anger, frustration and intolerance often emerge.  If we are filled with love, we will more likely react with patience and grace.  This has stuck with me because I know it to be incredibly true.  I think we’ve all allowed frustration or anger to build up inside of us and then seen it explode on the unfortunate soul that “bumped” into us.

The words that we say are a byproduct of the condition of our heart.  Our words and actions are indicators of the emotions swirling within us, the belief systems we are ascribing to or even the past hurts that have let go unaddressed.  Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

This has left me wondering… how do I change what’s within me?  That’s a honking, big question.  And I’m sure the answer is no doubt a multi-pronged approach.  But… I also know that we can often make things more complicated than they need to be.

I recently attended the Global Leadership Summit, which is a two-day leadership conference chalk full of world-class speakers and business leaders.  Out of all the wisdom that was imparted, one quote continued to surface in my mind…

“You can’t think your way into a new way of living.  You live your way into a new way of thinking.”

I woke up the other morning to my cat, meowing at my bedroom patio door to get inside.  It was 4:00am in the morning.  This is nearly an everyday occurrence.  As usual, I met her meowing with some not-so-nice name calling and promises to get rid of her.  And at that moment, I was reminded of Mrs. Cup and thought, “Yuck, that’s what inside of me?  Instant anger and intolerance?”

See… I love this example because yelling at the cat is something small that many of us would discard as inconsequential.  She’s not a person who will be hurt by my words.  Clearly it does not impact her, she keeps doing this on the daily!  But these are situations in which we are typically less filtered and get a real view into what lies within.

Once I got a glimpse of what was within me, I realized I need to act to correct it.  Otherwise… it may be the cat this time, but the next time someone bumps into me, who will it be?  What sort of damage might I do?  So again, I was left wondering how to change what was on the inside.  And then the quote resurfaced again.

“You can’t think your way into a new way of living.  You live your way into a new way of thinking.”

Then a light bulb went off.  This quote reminded me that we aren’t victims to what’s within, but we have the power to change it by taking new action.  It’s not enough to recognize what’s within and simply try to think differently.  We need to take new action.  Action that will reinforce a new, better way of thinking.  Action that aligns with healthy, positive belief systems.

Maybe my action needs to be to pet the cat instead of throwing a pillow at her.  Or, maybe all I can muster is to not yell, but silence in that case would be better than aggression.  What I feel inside may not change immediately, I’ll still probably feel furious that my sleep is being disrupted by a cat.  But I’m beginning to understand that my heart is never turned off.  In every moment, it’s constantly feeling and learning.  Each situation either confirms my current beliefs or teaches me a new reality.  New ways of doing helps to reprogram a new way of thinking.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  But we also have the power to lead our hearts by taking new action.  Let’s lead our hearts well.

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