Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I just watched the Oscar-winning movie, Slum Dog Millionaire. What an amazing film! I experienced a full range of feelings, from sorrow and fear, to elation and joy. I sat in the theater after the movie ended and let a gamut of emotions wash over me.

The movie was awe insring in a number of ways. The most obvious example is it sheds light on a subject that is easy to ignore. India is thousands of miles away, so it is easy to remain oblivious to the poverty and pain of millions of people, especially when we have problems at home to deal with. However, as the movie unfolds through the lives of three young children and what they encounter, it is impossible to ignore the pains and joys they experience. The viewer is swept into their world and vicariously experiences what life is like for billions of people. Hopefully, this glimpse at another world will invoke a desire to help - or at least cultivate compassion - for the plight of others.

Watching this film also reminded me of one of the main reasons I became a writer. Writers can use language to inspire, educate, generate fear, or simply entertain. I've always been drawn to the humorous component of writing, but I took a more traditional route when Jackie and I decided to write, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. I'm a problem solver. I see an injustice and I want to correct it. When I notice how an action or habit is causing a problem in someone's life, I feel compelled to help.

I can't go around pointing a finger at folks and saying, "Hey you, if you would just do this, this and this, your life would be so much better." Well, actually I have done that, but only to people I know. I usually preface it with, "I'm going to offer you some unsolicited advice..." Most of the time I wait until people come to me for these pearls of wisdom. If not, it can be like passing out a snow cone on a hot day. If you want a snow cone, that's great. If you don't, it's a drippy mess. However, I must confess, there are times I can't restrain myself and I offer suggestions anyway.

The best way for me to keep out of trouble - and still acknowledge my compulsion to help others - was to write a book. However, my coauthor, Jackie and I didn't limit the book to our own experiences. We interviewed a number of people, from meth addicts to millionaires. The result was life stories that provide useful examples on how the reader can erase negativity from their lives. There is advice in each chapter too, but a lot of the power of the message is by using the life stories of others as a teaching tool.

So here's a story I want you to create. Since I'm writing this on April Fool's Day, it can be a little game you can play to trick yourself into feeling more compassion. When someone annoys you, I want you to send them a silent prayer. Instead of invoking the four letter word that easily coomes to mind, try substituting the word, "bless." When someone cuts you off in traffic, say "bless you." Is your boss grumpy again? It's time for another blessing. Living with a snotty teenager? "Bless you, bless you bless you."

At first you may feel like a whiff of pepper at an allergy convention, but that's okay. Saying "bless you" is better than cursing, it will keep you out of trouble, and, in time, it may even provide a little perspective. Because just as it is difficult to imagine the poverty of those in third world countries, the same is true for your grumpy boss, a rude sales clerk, and discourteous drivers. Anyone can curse, but it takes a rare individual who can offer a little prayer.

Make each day a blessed one.

Sally and Jackie

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