Live with a good heart

Green on green in the heart of the forest. McKenzie River Trail, 2020


Approx. read time: 1:45 min.

I’m playing with words again.

A friend says to me: “I’m struggling with negativity.”

My first thought is: Hooray! You’re willing to name what you’re feeling!

Negativity is one of the darker emotions—not an enemy come to do battle, but a messenger with something to tell us.

So I wonder: What’s the opposite of negativity? Positivity?

Positivity feels like a sticky-sweet attitude, fake through and through, and exhausting, like a forced smile that makes my face ache.

Negativity—here, a negative attitude—may suggest … a loss of hope. Anything in the news today could make you lose hope. You can’t just make hope happen.

Unchecked negativity can be corrosive. Like battery acid, it eats away the muscle of the heart.

So the opposite of negativity is … and the phrase now comes to me … a noncorrosive, nonviolent heart.

Nonviolent, I say, as in not pushing against but inviting in the flow of grace, the natural flow of good, of life’s hidden yet ever present generosities, life’s invitations to live with a good heart.

My worthy response, it seems, to the violence I witness in the world, is to root out every form of violence within me, starting with heart, with attitude, with word choices, whether that’s self-talk or conversation with others.

If expressions of these subtle forms of violence were weeds in my garden, I’d have a heaping mound of them.

I want this nonviolent heart, always. It doesn’t just happen, anymore than weeds just uproot themselves and vanish.

Living with a nonviolent heart means choosing Love, expressing Love, purifying the attitude, mind, and spirit.

It means living in this world, the world I touch and care about, with a good and kindly heart.

It starts, not with having the last word, but with gently asking, “Are you able to tell me more? About how you arrived at this way of seeing?”

It starts with wondering how someone has gotten to where they are today, what histories stack up against them, what innate poverties crush them, what wound has never been tenderly tended.

Jesus lived with a decidedly nonviolent heart, all the way to his death. Even in his resurrection, he did not gloat. He breathed forth peace.

I want this kind of heart, always. I’m pretty sure you do, too.

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Be well. Live in peace. Love one another.

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