At first glance, I know this site looks like it's about fluff. If you are reading beyond a quick glance, I am sure that you will agree that it's not. It can get pretty deep in here. This letter adopted from one by Seth Andrews (heck most of it is his writing) is a case in point. I adopted it to fit me, I encourage you to do the same. It's for the misfits and oddballs who have risen above circumstances to enjoy life and make the world better. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it is to me.
Be encouraged. It's OK to be yourself.
I learned a lot about my family when it was discovered that I was not living my life by their rules. I learned well the consequences of doing something so shocking as to be an individual: a singular voice, an often inquisitive voice, with its own tenor, its own style, its own song, its own message.
I was not treated kindly, because I was different. Therefore it has become my passion to treat others with kindness, no matter how different they are. And to share this passion with others. That's a work in progress, always will be.
We live in a world where conformity is comfort, and we all know well how comfortable people can become. So many voices are merely an echo…a hand-me-down from a previous generation, and the generation before, and the generation before. Breaking the cycle is unthinkable, and why would they ever consider it, as the cloak they inherited feels so warm and safe.
Everyone around them looks like them, walks like them, talks like them. Everyone…except for me. An odd ball like me, and it is the odd balls like me, who question and challenge conformity that also work to make the world better.
They nod in agreement. I raise an eyebrow of doubt. They just know the answer. I just know that the answer raises many more questions. They take security in staying on the path. I feel compelled to break out and carve a path of my own.
But this is not what was expected of me. They laid out the guidelines for a proper person to live, and they would make sure that I turned out right, no matter what. So what the hell happened?
Sadly my mother and father carried to the grave, the embarrassment and shame that they failed as a parent, because I left their straight and narrow, because I re-wrote the playbook in a language that they consider to be foreign...confusing…even shameful.
I had two choices. I could keep the peace and line up with the others. Or I could walk at my own pace in my own direction for my own reasons and accept the consequences and rewards that come with being my own person. I tried the first and failed.
The fallout has been significant. These days, my family only sees what they think I should have been, what I could have been, if only I had done it their way. They speak the words of love, but just barely, and by lacing "love" with distance and disdain, they cheapen the word.
Yes, I’m sure they love me. But the full package, the 100 percent, the unfiltered love is kept on reserve until I straighten up, fit in, conform and stop making waves. Not until I start acting…normal.
For just a moment, let’s take a look at normal.
Normal is a husband and wife, married per the bible, in a church and under a mythical God, condemning non-heterosexuals for ignoring and even desecrating the lawful and ordained marital union that they now enjoy…after two divorces.
It’s a mother telling a daughter that sex is dirty. That her body is dirty and shameful. That sexual desire is harmful lust. And that she is cursed by the fall of Eve in the garden, a by-product of sin, designed to gain her worth from a future husband who, according to the book of Genesis and the design of God, will rule over her.
It’s a teacher frightening a 6-year-old child with torture in a fiery Hell and a devil lurking in the dark with designs on its very soul.
It’s refusing to purchase a new car without first test-driving 15 vehicles from six different car lots, checking the vehicle history, payments, insurance, safety record, resale value and consumer ratings…but accepting the bible as fact without even knowing who wrote the book of Genesis.
It’s a church communion ritual where the men, women and children symbolically eat flesh and drink blood.
It’s thanking a mythical God for food grown and prepared by human hands. It’s giving this God the glory for providing the new house that came with a 30 year mortgage. It’s praying for safety after buckling your seatbelt, locking your doors and loading your handgun. It’s praying for healing…after you call 911. It’s praising God for a medical miracle, while ignoring the doctors and staff who performed the surgery.
It’s Sunday school songs, a bible on the nightstand, a check in the offering plate, an evangelist on the television, a Jesus fish on your car and a t-shirt that reads, “Seven days without Jesus makes one weak.”
It’s a prison disguised to look like a mansion. It’s a veneer of kindness reserved for those that fit the mold. And I’m not going to live like that.
I’ve questioned, I’ve read books (not just one) and even that one. Yes, I’ve read the Bible (unlike most believers) I have read it word for word, cover to cover, more than once. I have seen some history and learned some science and realized that the world is much, much grander that most people ever imagine. I finally found my own voice, and I’m going to speak in it. I’ve had the epiphany that I don’t owe it to the rest of the world or even my family to keep them happy. I owe it to myself to create happiness for myself. I have realized that an effective way to do that, as hard as it sometimes is, is with kindness towards others. And even though, wherever and whenever I can, I am kind, and I say the words and take the actions that build bridges and soften the sharp edges and demonstrate a love for people and a desire for a better world, I’m not a sheep to be led, an echo to be repeated, I am not a cautionary tale, a bad example, a freak, a pervert…shameful…broken…ugly.
I figured out what so many billions of others have missed. That this life is too precious to spend in someone else’s shadow. That when others judge everyone and everything that is different, they only indict their own shallow heart and cheat themselves out of amazing depth, breadth, color, culture and humanity out there that’s so much more wonderful than the tiny rooms people lock themselves into, and the narrow tunnels they walk. That believing in things without evidence isn’t a virtue, but something to be pitied. That sexuality and the human body isn’t shameful, but something to be celebrated. That the condemnation of what is wrong, even when it’s called sacred, is the obligation of any moral creature. That kindness to others, no matter what they believe, or what beat they march to, creates happiness. That my hopes, dreams, desires, loves, pursuits and passions belong to me and me alone. That I have stepped out of the crowd. To stand forward. To stand out. To stand my ground.
To know that, even though I occupy a tiny speck upon a tiny speck inside this vast universe, and even though I don’t believe my father is a divine king and my mission is written in a magic book and I have an eternal mansion in the heavens, my life is wonderful and amazing and precious and so much more satisfying.
Is that kind of life easy? Nah. Is it popular? Maybe not. But inside this 13.7 billion year old universe, there has never been anyone exactly like me, and there never will again. And I like me. I’m simply living a life that honestly reflects that fact. And while others laugh at me because I’m different, I can laugh at them…because they’re all the same.
And I can be kind to all and create happiness when others reject, bully, and harass those who do not fit into their world view.
- David blood
Click here to see the original version by Seth Andrews
I really did not expect to ever post anything about Drug Addiction on my blog about kindness and happiness, but I saw this article that caught my eye. The title is The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered and it's Not What You Think.
I'd say that title is an understatement to put it simply (because I want you to read the article), it underscores the importance of kindness and human connection. It can make A HUGE difference in peoples lives, so be kind and pass it on!
This web site is about how kindness creates happiness, and that is clearly very important. But other things are as well.
One of those is the freedom to openly be your true self.
Thanks to a friend of mine I found a powerful video on the cost of people hiding themselves in the closet. It can even cut more than a decade off of peoples lives. I would suggest that it also costs people any chance of true happiness. I know this from personal experience, which is of course why the subject of kindness and happiness is such a passion of mine.
This video is about a gay hiding and that is a well known situation, all too well known. But it applies to many other people as well. Virtually anything where a person feels that who they are is in conflict with and will not be accepted by most of the people around them.
It could be in the area of sexuality, religion (someone who is not religious in a very religious culture, or of a different religion than the predominate one in the culture), politics, social, economics (someone who loves someone from a different social status for example), etc.
As the movie Dead Poets Society pointed out very dramatically it can simply be a child having desires for his or her life that are different from their parents expectations.
On my About Page I share that I was a target of an extremely traumatic family intervention, that intervention happened because I was hiding my true self, and I got outed. For me it was because I had come to view body shame as stupid and unhealthy from an early age, but my family was wrapped up in shame, they saw the human body as fallen, sinful, and shameful.
In my closet, I had a web site promoting healthy body acceptance, it got discovered and I got outed.
But let me tell you as hard and traumatic as that was, it was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. There is no happiness when you are hiding your true self in a closet.
But this also gets to the kindness side of this coin. As long as someones true self is not hurting others, no one should ever have to hide who they are at all. In kindness and gratitude for the differences that make life interesting and worth living everyone should be accepted for their true selves. It should make no difference who they love or what they believe.
Some would say that it's religion that causes people to hide their true selves, and I would say no, it's rigidity. Religion is just a symptom or expression of this larger human challenge. I have seen rigidity expressed in non-religious communities as well.
Actually I think it is evolutionary, it is natural to favor those like us and shun those not like us. But because we are conscious and we can see the big picture of the importance of diversity, I think this is an area where we need to rise above instincts.
We can change this, we can learn to see that everyone is valuable as their true selves, to let go of our rigidity and accept others as they are in kindness. And that my friend will lead to much more happiness for everyone.
I hope you get as much out of this video as I did.
David Blood Kindness and Relationship Marketing Coach