Cheryl's Blog

How to be a good human

As the pandemic picks up steam in some parts of the country and we continue with restrictions, it seems we’re being invited to make a relationship with uncertainty whether we want to or not.

As a result, I’ve made the decision to cancel our October retreat and have reserved new dates for next year – April 9th -11th and October 22nd -24th. Let’s hope all is well by then. If you’d like, you can put yourself on the waitlist here so you’ll know when information becomes available.

These are tough times for many and as life continues to require us to make sacrifices, patience is wearing thin. Yesterday, a close friend told me she was yelled at while shopping at the grocery store when she moved out of the way for a store clerk who stocking shelves and ended up too close to another shopper. “It was my first time shopping during the pandemic so I was already a bit anxious and the angry outburst left me feeling awful.”

Last night, while driving home alone from spending an evening with friends, a man in a pickup truck tried to pass me on the right. When he couldn’t get through, he pulled up behind me, put on his high beams, and followed closely for several miles. Given these crazy times, I have to admit I felt nervous all the way home.

I’ve had my own share of behaving badly during the last few months. I’ve been bitchy and impatient, easily triggered by silly little things, and frustrated with the restrictions and inconveniences of living during a pandemic. But, I have enough self-awareness to remember the importance of being a good human. I have a few rules…

Rule #1 – Mind your manners. I do my best to remember that my overreaction to others is about me, not them. When buttons get pushed, I have a responsibility to manage my inner state rather than lash out or try to get someone to behave in a way that makes me feel better. The directive is clear:  Do no harm.

Rule #2 – Refuse to engage in “us or them” behavior. There’s so much divisiveness in the world right now and I refuse to be a part of it. I don’t need to educate others, to save them, to instruct them on correct behavior, or to attempt to influence their thinking. My job is to mind my own behavior.

Rule #3 – When judging another, look for a mirror. It’s so much easier to point a finger at someone than to notice that when I do, there are three fingers pointing back at me. I don’t debate with people. I don’t get pulled into arguments on social media. And I do my best to notice when I’m taking a “holier-than-thou” position while doing the very thing I’m complaining about. It’s good to remember that self-righteousness builds walls, not bridges.

Rule #4 – Stop redecorating hell. When I’m upset and replaying scenarios in my head, I stop the movie. As I’ve said many times in my blogs, the mind can be a bothersome companion.

And finally,

Rule #5 – Come home to the present moment.  While this rule sounds like an overused cliché (especially by me these days), the truth is it’s the most powerful one of all.  Rather than get yanked around by anything happening in the outer world, I do my best, moment-by-moment, to cultivate a calm inner state. The world is crazy right now, but I don’t have to join the party.  Yes, it takes practice to come home to the moment. Lots of practice. But fortunately, every day, in a multitude of ways, life gives us plenty to work with 😀.

In the end, there’s a simple way to check whether or not we’re being good humans. Throughout the day, ask yourself:

Are people better off for having crossed my path today?

Let’s do our best to make it yes.


P.S. – To continue this discussion, please join me for a fundraising zoom event to support Leapin Lizards in Portland, ME, on Tuesday, July 14th at 7pm ET.  The gathering is called: Reemergence: Self Care Lessons from the Pandemic and all proceeds will go to support the organization in keeping staff and stores in operation. You can get tickets here.