Is it true?

Oscar WildeYesterday on “work in progress”, I posted the following quote from Oscar Wilde:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I did so as sort of an experiment. Because I was wondering if people would react to it as strongly as I did.

Here’s what I got: Nobody “Liked” the Facebook link and no-one downloaded the attached PDF as would be the usual thing to expect for any regular post. No approval, but also no aversion. I got no reaction really.

I saw the quote (written before 1900) for the first time very recently. Here is how I reacted. At first I thought: “Ah.” And then: “Huh?” And finally: “Is it true?” After thinking about it, I noticed that this short statement made me feel downright uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why.

Then I realized. It is one of those tricky, subtle, pseudo-positive messages that we see and hear almost every day. In the paper, on TV, in conversations with co-workers and so on. The content varies and other words are used, but the modern gist is pretty much the same. In my mind, suggestions like these rang out:

This world is in a mess, but some of us (in the West) are lucky.

+++ or +++

Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up.

I had to ask myself these questions:

  • How much suffering are these types of seemingly harmless suggestions and our adoption of them causing?
  • How much depression and stress are related to this type of thinking?

Byron Katiee

In her process of inquiry called “The Work“, Byron Katie recommends we question our own thinking and ask ourselves four basic questions. She concludes the process with a so-called “turnaround“.

On her homepage “The Work” (http://www.thework.com) she elaborates:

  1. “Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
  5. Turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don’t forget to find genuine, specific examples of each turnaround. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Let’s turn around Byron Katie’s process – because I find it fun and inspiring to use it in both directions…

First the turnarounds:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” can be turned around to:

  • We are all standing in the stars, but many of us choose to look into the gutter.
  • Some of us are standing in the gutter, but we are all stars among men.

“This world is in a mess,but some of us (in the West) are lucky” turns around to:

  • The world is as it should be, but some of us are unlucky not to see it.
  • Luckily, the world is always perfectly arranged.

“Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up” can be turned around to:

  • Life is easy, but we keep putting our heads down.
  • It’s hard to keep our heads up when we make life so difficult.

or maybe just simply…

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

And now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. “Is it true? [that life is beautiful]
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? [write a list of evidence if you have to]
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be with the thought?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Now I am going to modify yesterday’s post. It practically gave me a bodily allergic reaction to post it – ha, ha. I hope I receive a reaction from some of you this time, if only in your own minds.

Until we meet again,

Shailia

P.S. Add a “turnaround” of your own in the comment field below, if you think of one.

One response to “Is it true?

  1. Pingback: Standing in the gutter « work in progress…

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