Contributions to Self Clarity, Wholeness, & Health

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Voluntary Living: What Is It?

THE COMPASSION SWITCH is now out!!

Freedom & Voluntary Living from:
The Anger Habit: Proven Principles to Calm the Stormy Mind
by Carl Semmelroth PhD & Donald E P Smith PhD

And what is voluntary living? It may be anything—and that’s the point.
 It may mean living dangerously, if you wish, mindful of the consequences and being willing to accept them; or living conservatively, knowing what you’re missing and being willing to miss it but deciding for yourself. It may or may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean that you work at being invulnerable to petty slights, insults, and jealousies of others; impervious to the power moves of colleagues, politicians, neighbors, petty officialdom. It means that you understand the weakness which drives those behaviors, treating them as the problems of less fortunate others and not needing to take them personally. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean working at owning your values and ideas, trusting your observations rather than accepting authority or adopting “what everybody believes,” boldly taking responsibility for your perhaps unpopular beliefs, and being willing to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” because they are part of the price of living the voluntary life. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean not expecting or demanding thanks from others, nor appreciation, nor gratitude from those who benefit from your good works, and then fully experiencing their gifts of thanks and gratitude when and if they are freely given. Those behaviors are their business; and your good works were given freely. It may mean acting constructively, solely for the satisfaction of knowing that you are being constructive. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean “taking time to smell the roses” because they are there; and opening your senses to both the joys and the pain of others, doing what you can to increase the joys and to reduce suffering without being dismayed that you can’t eliminate it completely or forever. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean feeling free to share your beliefs, ideas, talents, skills, and physical favors with whoever is receptive, mindful of both the short-term pleasure and the long-term pain that may result, but to share without fear while mindful of the past with both its joy and its remorse. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 It may mean being guided by rational thought when embroiled in others’ emotionality, but also being guided by emotions when there is no basis for rational thinking and accepting the outcome, no matter how devastating, since it was the best that could be done. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
 Voluntary living may mean working on recognizing criticism (“constructive” or not) as an attack and examining it for whatever information it may contain, then dismissing it. Or it may not mean this - and that’s the point.
Whatever voluntary living may mean for you, it cannot be yours if you remain in the grip of the anger habit. The automatic response to your unmet expectations with angry demands will blind you to the possibilities of giving freely to others and receiving gratefully from them.