As the day begins, the dim light slowly exposes the wondrous nature that surrounds me. A little later, the sun will peek over the mountain range and a red-streaked sky will welcome a new day. Often, deer or wild turkeys (the feathered kind, not the bourbon kind) amble through the yard looking for food to sustain them through the winter. Or maybe they’re just looking for a place to poop. It’s hard to tell because the light is still dim.
But one thing is certain. The view is breathtaking.
About twelve hours later, as the day ends, the glow of soft lights, the cushiony rug under my feet, and the heat from the crackling fireplace warm up the living room. It may be dark and cold outside but it’s bright and cozy inside. There is a feeling of comfort that settles into the room.
This is our new home and it’s dramatically different from anywhere we’ve lived – because both the inside and the outside are perfect. OK, maybe not perfect but that’s pretty close to how I see it.
Every morning, I get up before dawn, put on a pot of coffee, and sit in my favorite chair where I read the news, study a devotional, and wait for the sun to rise. It’s the best part of the day. It’s quiet, I’ve got caffeine coursing through my veins, and I’m inspired by my surroundings – both inside and outside.
One day, it occurred to me that this is a great way to exist in general – to love both the inside and the outside of our lives. Let me explain.
From a psychological perspective, we know that we can’t really be comfortable with others until we are comfortable with ourselves. And typically, the reason we’re not comfortable with ourselves is that we’ve learned to focus on our blemishes rather than our beauty (and I don’t mean physical beauty).
If we only see the “flaws” in ourselves, we will miss the truly beautiful aspects of who we are. We’ll never embrace our quick humor, the depth of our compassion, or even our mad Sudoku skills.
If I take a similar approach to how I view my living room, I may only notice the scratches on the floor, the gaudy lamp that’s too bright and doesn’t match anything else, the abundance of stinkbugs that seem to be replicating at warp speed, or the funky smell that we can’t quite identify (but is not the stinkbugs) – and I miss all that is right with the room.
So, when you look at yourself in the mirror, figuratively, what do you see? The beautiful you that you were meant to be or the you that your mind has created from all that you think you aren’t?
Now, let’s apply the same principle to how we see others.
The people around us also have wonderful qualities. But sometimes, we only see that rude guy who cut us off in traffic, or that nasty saleswoman who made it difficult to return the shirt that looked good in the store but not quite so flattering when we got home, or the maddening family member who can say just the right thing to make our insecurities rise up like that whale in the Pacific Life commercial.
If I take a similarly critical look at my physical environment, I would see a yard that’s too sloped for the kids to play in, or a billion leaves that will make their way to my porch, my deck, and eventually tracked into my foyer, or a driveway that is covered with deer and turkey poop. But in the big scheme of things, those aren’t the details in my environment that inspire me. So they shouldn’t be the target of my focus.
When you look at others, can you see past the traits that you’ve allowed to define them but that may not define who they really are? Can you discover other qualities that may ultimately endear you to them?
Our inside is inherently connected to our outside. When we hurt inside, we see a world that’s hurting. When we’re angry inside, we upset others who, in turn, upset us. And when we’re not confident, everything and everyone can look like a failure.
We must first adjust our view of our inside in order to see the wonders that are outside. And once we connect the two, our personal and physical world becomes so much more inspiring.
So what can you see from your “living room?”