I am the first to admit I posses a tendency to fall prey to weakness. I, especially, struggle when it comes to gossip, trash-talk, and judgement. I hear the painful words of gossip leave my lips and hear my head scream, why, why, why do you need to say what you just said. And, then, I spend the rest of the day or week or month reliving my moment of nastiness. I vow to change my voice and, in many different ways, I try to stop this habitual pattern. I make rules I must follow, like a forty day abstinence from any and all gossip. Or a rule that insists I correct a nasty and unnecessary thought by changing the bad thought to a good and kind thought. I am better, but I can’t seem to entirely kick the habit.
After another failed attempt at eliminating this destructive vernacular, I decided I was due for a change in my approach. And just like I usually do whenever I can’t figure out a solution, I headed to my meditation space, lit a candle, got on my knees, and asked for help. I sat in silence for quite some time. And because prayer and meditation aren’t magic, I didn't hear a loud and booming voice calling me or offering a profound answer, I only felt calmer. I only felt a bit of peace. However, this peace and detachment leads me to a path of clarity. And in this cleared space, I washed the dishes and I thought of the hens.
These girls, and their entire family, mom, dad, and brother, are poster people for positivity and love. Their positive energy is so palpable, so enveloping, it overpowers any space in which they reside. A friend of mine, unknowingly, regularly visits a local juice bar and the youngest hen, Bridget, waits on him and prepares his daily juice order. Bridget told me she recognized this friend, but was unsure if he knew who she was. The last time she saw him was several years ago. At a recent dinner with friends, I mentioned to this friend that Bridget works at the juice bar. His face lit up like a bright star on a dark night. He shared he had no idea this was the same Bridget he knew as a much younger girl. More importantly, he continued describe Bridget’s energy and smile and kindness. She lights up the room. She’s magnetic and I just feel better after I see her. His words were unsolicited and came purely from his heart. And just like my friend, when I think of these girls, the hens, I feel the exact same way. I feel better after I am with them, all of them or just one of them.
I finished the dishes and created a plan. Instead of trying to eliminate my bad habit, I chose to work to create a new habit. When I first enter the hens home or they come into my home or I run into one of them while she is running, I am always greeted with a heartfelt smile and a compliment. They never fail to find one nice thing to say to me or anyone. If a person comes up in conversation at the dinner table, one of them always chimes in with a kind thought or story about the person. Their words are never fake. Their words are never malicious. Just kind. Always kind. And I figured, if these girls are a good decade younger than I and can muster up such kindness, I certainly can give this whole compliment thing a try. Instead of finding fault in another, I vowed to find one kind and loving compliment to extend. Even when I am alone and angry and hurt, I remember the hens, stop my mouth, and say something kind. The funny thing is, this method works really, really well. It causes me to step back from my internal madness and focus on what is right, what is good, what is love...in the darkest of moments.
Insecurity, hurt, envy, anger, and competition bring out the worst in us. When we engage on this level of pain, instead of making ourselves feel better, we just add to our own misery. What we water grows. Rather than healing ourselves and exorcising our pain, we end up hurting and causing more hurt. We, not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt others. No one wins and we are left with scars of shame and pain and fear.