As one of foremost comics of his time, Groucho’s irreverant humor was legendary. The schnoz, glasses and bushy eyebrows, gave hope to many of us young non-aryans. But I never thought of him as a font of wisdom. So when I came upon the following quote, I was amazed:
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
The remarkable thing is not that shitty things happen, it’s that they happen no matter what we do to prevent them. The folks who got nailed by Bernie Madoff were not fools. They didn’t misbehave. They followed the rules and trusted the former head of the NASDQ. Most people who lost their homes or jobs didn’t do anything wrong. The illusion is if we just try hard enough, if we just pay more attention, then we won’t make mistakes. The real secret is what to do after the mistake happens. We can’t go back in time, nor are we very good at predicting the future. All we’ve got is today. And one of the best ways to feel good about today is to connect with others. Matt Weinstein is a comic, motivational speaker and all around jester. He was nailed by Madoff. You might enjoy his video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIbkqUm_xKk.
There’s been an outpouring of unemployed people volunteering for great causes now that the economy is in trouble. The irony is that non profits also have had to lay off their volunteer coordinators since their donations are down. But all the people who do stuff report that their former misery, the feelings of helplessness and remorse give way to a more expansive sense of purpose. I don’t want to sound like Florence Nightingale here, but he irony is that helping others can be a wonderfully selfish act. It ends up making the volunteer the beneficiary.
I guess the Beatles knew what they were singing about when they realized:
I get by with a little help from my friends.