This post is dedicated to my friend, web designer and marketing advisor, Susan Preston, with whom I’ve had so many soulful conversations, shared much laughter and no small amount of tears. In a recent conversation I said something about how we all can live a noble life. She asked me later if I’d written anything about that, because if so, she’d like to read it. I had not. In fact, I hadn’t even remembered using the phrase “noble life” but, I told her that I thought it sounded interesting! She reminded me of what I had said. I am grateful to her for catching my words and sending them back to me.
I have a way of revering the wealthy, the influential and the well known. I feel tremendous admiration and gratitude toward those who inspire us, teach us, and make the world a better place. I also have a way of comparing myself to them, with an uneasy sense that I’m not enough; that I don’t show up well in the comparison.
I can somehow feel small in relation to those whose influence is greater than mine is likely to ever be. I wonder uneasily if I should be doing more. Striving for more. Sacrificing more.
Honoring Our Shared Humanity
What if, instead of feeling uneasily diminished by the actions of those we admire, we remember our shared humanity?
What if we remember that we all have worth as humans? We all struggle and suffer; we all experience love and joy. We each can make a difference in this world. We can all live a noble life.
Living a Noble Life
There’s the noble life some live through being born into royalty, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure we can’t all do that!
There’s another kind of noble life. It’s one that is available to us when we hold the intention of being the best humans we can be and act on that intention.
We can engage in a conscious process of clarifying what we stand for and believe in. We can discover or rediscover our purpose. That helps us identify and claim our gifts, using those that bring us deep, meaningful joy to help meet the important needs of those around us.
We can do that by being a caring, supportive presence when someone needs us to just listen. We can say, “Please tell me how I can best help you right now,” to a neighbor whose spouse has been diagnosed with cancer. We can volunteer to teach children to read, cook, repair bicycles, or knit. We can use our abilities as writers, speakers, or advocates to take a stand on social justice issues. We can offer a hug. We can show up at a protest. We can donate business clothing to a nonprofit that prepares people to enter the workforce. We may reach one person, or 20, or hundreds. It all matters, no matter how many or how few we impact.
We all can live a life guided by the honorable principles and values that underlie our intentions. We can do so even in the midst of these challenging, uncertain times. We can take comfort and strength in knowing we are one of many striving to do our best. Here are some of the ways we can do that:
- We can hold ourselves accountable for treating ourselves and all living beings with kindness and respect.
- We can approach new situations and experiences with a friendly, open-minded curiosity.
- We can listen to others openly and whole-heartedly.
- We can be part of a community that gives and receives care and support.
- We can take time to slow down and listen to ourselves.
- We can take care of our bodies, which is also an important way of taking care of our minds.
- We can respect ourselves and respect others.
- We can appreciate and take care of this planet and all its interdependent life forms.
- We can stand up and speak out for our beliefs.
- We can advocate for our own and others’ rights.
These are just some things we can choose to do. We don’t have to do all of them all of the time. We can mess up and have bad days. We can forgive ourselves when that happens and keep on trying. But when we do these and other noble things, the impact is notable. And the effect is exponential. That’s what I call living a noble life.