MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “quotes”

Genuine Smiles

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There was a difference between when she smiled wholeheartedly and when she simply forced it. Her aunt knew how to read her. She was just like her. The fake smile caused more muscles to tense. It was strained and didn’t seem natural.

We all have moments like that. When we feel obligated to smile and be courteous when in fact we feel nothing like it at all.

Charlotte saw so much of herself in her niece. Joy lived up to her name most times. But when her aura clouded, it could be sensed a mile away.

“The secret to maintaining that smile is to keep the child inside you alive”, Charlotte said.

Joy tilted her face like a cat in awe.

Think about it: when we’re simply living in that moment, blurring everything around us to the point that nothing else exists beyond what we’re doing and who we’re with at the present time, aren’t we happier? We shift all our focus to that precise period of time that we don’t care about past or future or anything else that causes us concern and stress. We feel relaxed, playful, carefree, and genuinely happy. Your heart is open to love and…well, joy, and your mind is thinking positively by default. You view the world brighter because you’ve turned the mood switch to that direction”.

Joy smiled, her head turned back straight. The smile was authentic this time.

She didn’t need to say much. Charlotte understood anyway. She gave her a hug. One of those long ones where you wait for the other person to let go first and so you stay entangled for what seems like hours, laughing while you feel each other’s heart vibrate. The embrace was so tight, Charlotte could actually feel the crack that had marked Joy’s emotions.

We’re all loving people the way we wish we were loved and hurting them the way we wish we were not hurt”.

How different the world would be if we could – even for an instance – see things from another’s point of view, step in their shoes and view their perspective. How much better everything would be, if we could just let our pride aside for a minute and show some empathy to the people around us, particularly to those we say we care for the most”.

Sometimes, love has a way of coming back to you”, Charlotte added, loosening the squeeze.

If it’s meant to be, it won’t miss you. There is always a way if we truly want it”.

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70,000 thoughts a day

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Experts estimate that we make around 70,000 thoughts a day. Most of them are obsessive-compulsive. And that incessant mental chatter steals our energy and drowns our focus. We’re pushed into creating scenarios about things that probably won’t even happen, interpretations that don’t stand, and events that aren’t true.

Yet, these are still thoughts that occupy our minds.

We have a tendency to gravitate towards the negative. If we hear ten positive things and one not-so-positive, we will automatically focus on the latter. Call it our innate instinct of survival, it’s what we feel threatens us and we need to act to fix it.

Perhaps the problem, however, is that we stick to how we think people should act. And that’s what makes us react so much to everything. Because we have in our head a whole list of actions that we are expecting others to make: to check up on us without any particular reason; to send a good morning text simply to show they’re thinking of us; to show up at our doorstep with a bowl of hot soup when we’re sick; to just sit with us when we’re not feeling well and all we want is some company to watch TV with. We long for things that others maybe don’t even think of: a goodnight call to make us feel loved before we end the day; attention when we’re upset; a smile when we’re frowning; the sharing of good news; a walk together to clear our minds. For us, we’re not asking for much. But nothing is obvious, and we shouldn’t expect others to act as we would. Perhaps that is the most difficult and troublesome thought of all: that we cannot expect others to behave in the way we would anticipate them to. We can’t compel people to change; they’ll do so if they truly want to.

We demand more of ourselves and oftentimes we force that upon others too.

We think too much and we perplex our minds with situations that sometimes don’t correspond to reality. But those thousands of thoughts soon take over our feelings. And that is the most dangerous of all. For we feel even when we sleep; when we spring awake from a nightmare, when we smile from the love we dream. We feel constantly. Some more than others. Not everyone can be as insensitive as not to realise when they’re causing trouble to others, or as empathetic that they carry the burden of others’ troubles. We need to find a balance. But the weight of our endless thoughts often hinder us from doing so.

We’re caught in an endless stream of thoughts that exasperates when we’re tired, stressed or worried. And this further adds to our exhaustion – both mental and physical. But like this article notes:

  • Just think how much energy and time you could have saved, if you could reduce the number of your thoughts.
  • Just think how much better focus you could possess, if thoughts did not bother you.
  • Just think how much inner peace, calmness and happiness you would have enjoyed, if there was a way to stop all these thoughts, which add nothing to your life.

Let me ask you, do you keep the engine of your car running after arriving at your destination? You certainly switch the engine off. So why not do so with your mind?

Some thoughts steal our peace, and in time, our lives too.

Disappointed but not surprised

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Every new month we start with the hope that things will be better in the next 30 days. We garner all the optimism we sort of lost along the way during the previous month to start over.

Until it crashes over our head much sooner than we’d hoped for.

Perhaps we are living out a self-fulfilling prophecy in that we expect to be disappointed so we’re just waiting for it to happen. But what if this pattern is a recurring one? What if the circumstances around us simply lead up to that painful loss of optimism? Or maybe it’s just that we hope for a lot.

In the past few months (or even years) we’ve been through so much – so many ridiculous, unperceivable, irrational situations – that we’re no longer surprised by anything. Yet, we’re still left disappointed.

And that is the worst feeling of all.

Maya Angelou had said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We desire the people closest to us – to whom we confide our deepest insecurities, thoughts, and dreams – to actually do what it is they proclaim.

Rhetoric is easy. You just tell the others what they want to hear. But it’s in the implementation that most are found wanting. It’s the actions that will prove who you are and how much you care. And it’s in the adversities – when you need a clan around you the most – that you’ll see who truly values and supports you. It’s all bright when you’re having fun, but when lightning hits and you’re called to confront the difficulties, who is by your side?

We rethink everything when the world overturns. It’s a push to awaken when we’re caught doing the same mistakes. When we still believe that everyone loves and cares the way we do; at times, prioritising others’ needs above our own because that’s just who we are.

We expect our people to support us in all our endeavours, professional efforts, and personal goals. To push us to be better and to help us maintain our sanity and serenity. Who will demonstrate their encouragement through the slightest of things: a virtual like on a social media post, a digital heart on our business page, an online follow to keep us going. It’s the people you can turn to at any time – be it in the middle of the day or at 2 am – because that’s when you want to speak your heart out. The people who will understand your burden and who will sit and listen to you despite having a great day themselves. The people who will try to soothe your distress because they respect, empathize, and acknowledge that that is what you need at the moment. Who will use a calming tone to communicate with you because criticism and patronisation won’t help.

Showing you care doesn’t mean moving mountains. Love is in the little things; it’s in the time you devote, the priorities you set, and the concern you show. It’s in making the other person feel safe and cherished, that they’re important and worth fighting for.

The more we mature and the more we experience certain things in life, the better we learn to appreciate the people who stand by us regardless. Unfortunately, we don’t always receive the support from the people we anticipate it the most. And we continue to realise it in a hard way. But we should be thankful that there is a handful who will help us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move ahead because that’s what we do best. Egoism is bad if it borders narcissism and arrogance, but it is often good if it helps you build confidence and makes you realise your value.

We keep telling ourselves to expect less to avoid disappointment, yet that too is on the list of things easier said than done.

Shine a light inside

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There are two types of people in the morning: the chirpy one, who chatters, sings, and is hyperactive from the moment they get out of bed; and the one who doesn’t want a single noise to interfere in the still sleeping zen phase they are painfully trying to get out of.

Miranda was the second type.

Alan was the first.

You can see the problem.

The worst was when the only chance they had to discuss about something was before going to work in the morning because often their shifts did not coincide and they could spend entire days without seeing each other. Despite living in the same house, they didn’t always have the energy after work to talk about anything.

This made it all the more complex.

Because she was also the type to keep everything inside. She restrained herself from expressing what bothered her, be it from the slightest of things – from their online presence, to his behaviour towards others, to her problems at work, or financial difficulties.

The body had a mind of its own, though, and it began to demonstrate its anguish and exhaustion in various forms. The signs were ignored and neglect led to stronger pain in every form.

He saw what she refused to.

How she faded her own light and began to personify that “what doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness (Marcus Aurelius).

So he surprised her with a week away.

To a place she only dreamed of; where mice and ducks were favourite cartoon characters; where laughter was the only sound you could hear; where to feel the innocence and carefreeness of a child was mandatory.

Different states of mind

People are different. It would be boring if we were all the same. From the way we look, think and act, to the stimuli we’ve had and our varying backgrounds, it all changes from one person to another.

It’s something neither good nor bad. It just is what it is. And we need to accept that.

Some people have the tendency to be more outgoing than others, to talk more and more easily. Others seek those moments of silent retreats, the loneliness of their own thoughts to be able to gather themselves before entrusting someone else with them.

Introverts are often seen by those outside their inner circle as having quiet minds. They only allow those closest to them to see the chaos that this quietness entails. An introvert will yak to you once they want to. Winning an introvert’s trust may take time, but once you do, be sure you’ve unlocked a special place reserved only for a selected few.

There is a very apt leadership quote that says be “slow to hire but quick to fire”. Consider it for a moment. It can easily apply to every relationship we have – from social to business relations. We need to be slow in developing our thoughts about people we meet, in trusting them with parts of us that we sometimes don’t even tell our own selves. But once that trust is lost, or the ties we have are broken, we shouldn’t hesitate, they’re gone immediately.

We often believe that there is only one time to make a good first impression. Do you ever get that feeling when you meet some people that you either like or dislike them without really being able to explain why? It’s your subconscious at play – gathering all those experiences you’ve already had to analyse the new entries in your life. But the truth is, there is a second chance for a first impression when you get to talk with the other. When they let you into their thoughts and positions on life, when you are allowed a glimpse of their mentality.

When we’re emotionally overcome – either by sadness, grief, anger or happiness – we’re not in the best position to make any decision whatsoever.

It’s not easy at the time to control yourself. That’s why you need a support group around you. Who sometimes know you better than yourself, and know what you need and how to get you to see it too. It takes time to build that trust and that family you choose to have.

But it also takes time to be able to acknowledge what battles are worth fighting, with who, when the right timing is, and how, where and when to detect it.

In the midst of it all, perhaps we need to realise that one thing that lately has become so evident: nothing we believe as common sense, truly is. Everyone has their own notion of what is logical and rational and what is not. And we just need to accept that difference of opinion.

Chin-up

He had a way of getting her to smile even when the tears where trickling down her blushed cheeks. Even when she frowned, he would manage her to laugh; that heartfelt laughter that was so contagious he could not help but chuckle along with her.

It was rare to find someone so supportive. Who could not only withstand but also handle her mood swings. She knew it was difficult. This modern era caused a lot of psychological and mental stress; she couldn’t even deal with it herself, let alone expect someone else to.

She was easily disappointed with the world. With friends that turned out to be foes. With backstabbing behaviour, with job offerings going to less-deserved people with under-achievements, with luck not being on her side apparently. She often surrendered arms because it was easier than continuing to fight a battle you were constantly losing.

But he knew more about it than meets the eye. He had faced unimaginable challenges throughout his years and was determined to not give up. Failure was not an option, and he kept repeating that to her so as to make it sink in.

During one of those heartbroken breakdowns where everything seemed bleak right from the sombre start of the morning, he looked her straight in the eyes, gently touched her face, and said, “Chin up, princess, or the crown slips”.

She smiled timidly. But it was enough to dust herself off and start over.

Choose your outlook

We’ve been through so much already,” the little girl said, tugging on her father’s coat. “If someone offers us help, I say we take it”.

He looked at her. It was true, leaving your homeland with only whatever you could carry was a torment in itself, and a heavy burden for any nine-year old to bear. The series of misfortunes that ensued was something refugees were prepared for. Particularly those violently expelled from their own country. 

They had just met someone who promised to get them to safety. But after a couple of failed attempts to believe people who vowed the same, the father was now distrustful.

Not everyone is good”, he told her.

Her mother soon arrived, her eyes drooping from exhaustion. She took the little girl’s hand and gently placed her arm around her husband.

There is still so much good out there”, she hummed. “But life is how you want to see it”. “If you want to find the good, you’ll find it. And if you’re constantly looking for the bad, it’ll catch up with you”.

They all breathed a little slower now. The realisation of this truth sinking in.

We need to acknowledge that practical optimism is a much better framework on life than default pessimism”.

Let’s choose to believe that everything will work out”.

The troubles of the world

It’s consoling to feel you are being heard. To know there is someone there who will allow you to lash out, to yell, to moan, to cry if needed. We need those air pockets once in a while to enable us to breathe. Because we can’t keep everything suffocating inside for too long”.

She paused and smiled. Marian could feel zia Giulia’s gentle gaze look right through her. She didn’t need to say much around her favourite aunt. It was as if she had a super-intuition through which she could perceive every emotion, every perplexing thought.

I’m glad you’re that person-to-go-to for your friends. But the problem arises when you allow all those problems you hear to drain into you and you add them onto your own”.

Marian sighed. Zia had struck spot on.

We need to listen, to comprehend, to offer advice, support, or even nothing more than our company and the reassurance that no one is alone. But you also need to know how to turn the tap off. That is how to allow the troubles of the world to slip off your shoulders. Each of us has enough of their own worries to carry those of others too. It’s not selfish. It’s self-care. And it does not mean you’re not being a good friend if you’re not constantly anguishing over the other’s hardships”.

She could sense the confusion, so she lightened the mood and added:

Even a camel will eventually shed you off when you become too heavy to carry. But that does not mean that it won’t accept to carry you back on again after a short while”.

Know your limits. And don’t be afraid to set them”.

Judges of character

© Dale Rogerson

You can tell a lot about a person from their library. What books they read. What worlds they delve into. What thoughts occupy their minds.

Like Robin Sharma said: “Ordinary people have big TVs. Extraordinary people have big libraries”.

Libraries are almost like your portrait; they reflect an image of yourself only few can see.

You can also tell a lot about a person from the pets they keep and the way they treat them. Animals are a great judge of character.

Combine the two, and you have a verdict, right there.

Happy pet and big library means special owner.

Also part of Friday Fictioneer

Wine a little

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Listen, if you’re going to whine about things, you might as well do it with a good bottle of wine”, he said as he opened the door to an antique wine cellar.

You could smell the ageing cork as the labels indicated the years-old wine that adorned the shelves.

“You’re disappointed because you constantly expect too much. But worse, because you assume too much.

You say you prefer to know the truth and be disappointed than to wonder, but you do both and don’t avoid the heartbreak either way.

Get over yourself and your fictional scenarios. It’s the only way.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

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