When I worked at Everything Coffee and Tea, we read a great book called Strengthsfinder. the book encourages you to focus on developing your strengths instead of putting so much energy into your weaknesses. For instance, if you excel in History, and struggle in math, many times, you spend most of your time working on math to get a better grade instead of running with your stregth, History, taking that subject to new heights. How fascinating that we focus so much on our weaknesses only to become mediocre. Couldn't we become great if we focused on what came natural to us?
One of my top five strenths is connectedness, meaning that I can see not only the connection, but the interdependence, between separate groups, cultures, ideas, etc. At first I moaned about this strength, feeling like it was useless in any sort of job. But, in an effort to live regret-free, it has actually come to play in a timely fassion, and has refined me in an unexpected way.
As a passionate thinker, feeler, doer, life can be exhausting. It's a rollercoaster ride of excitment one second and frustration the next. The world, and people for that matter, haven't always been kind to me. Couple that with a passionate person, and voila! You have yourself a right-fighter. The world should be "this way!" "My way!" "Doesn't everyone see how perfectly RIGHT I am? What they are doing is wrong, and I don't understand why they can't see it!" Standing up for my beliefs is a quality I am proud to possess, but one wrong move and I have allowed the worlds problems to be my burden, which is a cross that wasn't meant for me to carry.
In all of my efforts to try and change the world, and make it a place that loves, hopes, believes, works hard, and loves, loves again...I realized that I hadn't made a lot of progress. I used up countless ammounts of energy trying to make the world what I thought it should be. After all, my ideas are perfect! But sure enough, my lack of progress despite my endless devotion has left the world pretty much the same, and me, well...tired.
So where is the encouragment? Anna, please don't leave us hanging! There is hope, right? YES! There is hope. It's realizing our strengths, and running with it in a way that honors people. Honoring people for who they are, and for their life experiences whether right or wrong, is more important than spending time and energy in ways that we weren't meant to. And then I saw the connection. Oh yeah, that strength of mine that I forgot about!
The world all of the sudden came into focus. Are there bad, mean people in the world? Yes. Is it my fault they are like that? No. I am choosing to notice instead of judge. I am learning to first think of how Anna can be better, and less on how the world can be better. I'm realising that I am more like other people than I am different from them. I am asking myself to change before I ask someone else to change.
Focus on the connection between us, our humanity, how all of us smile the same. Don't let disagreements rob you of a happy life. After all, we don't know what others have been through. We only know what we have been through, and I'm grateful for the journey.