A few months ago, a new friend, Laura Thomas, sent me a copy of her book, The Magic of Well-Being. I was just moving into my new house and in the middle of the long, drawn-out process of unpacking and making the place feel like home. I was touched by her gesture, and by the validation that she felt as much of a connection during our conversations as I had. I couldn’t wait to read her book. When I get settled, I thought. It was the first thing I put in my brand new, clean desk drawer.
Other things soon took up residence in the drawer, and the book was buried. The other evening it peeked out at me from behind a notebook and I thought, Ahh, of course. Now I’m ready.
I started reading. A few chapters in, Laura mentions something she reads aloud to herself every morning called My Contract with the Universe. “It’s a list of my life goals and steps for accomplishing them,” she writes, “and also a list of the thoughts I want to foster.”
Wow, I thought. I love this idea of daily reminders. So I started to write my own.
As I started writing, I realized I was writing something slightly different than my own contract with the universe. I was reflecting on my fundamental truths, things I know to be true and real in this world, many of them newly formed ideas. The reminders I want to have handy when the world feels shitty and dark.
I’m sharing them with you because they might spark a thought or give you a moment of reassurance, or you might simply find them interesting. They are my truths, so if your inner wisdom goes, “Nope, that’s not right,” then, well, amazing. Sounds like you need to write down a set of your own. (Already thinking of how I can create a writing prompt to help you!)
So here they are, Ali Weeks’ Fundamental Truths. The way I see the world and simultaneously create the one I want to live in.
Our histories are important—they’ve shaped us into who we are. And they do not determine our futures. If we choose something different for ourselves than what we’ve had in the past—than who we’ve been in the past—we can change our fate. We always have the opportunity to choose.
I believe that people are innately good. When I acknowledge the light in others and share a little of mine, the world gets brighter around me. When I go out into the world with an open heart and give love freely, it is given back to me tenfold.
Walking outside with an open heart visible from across the block, I might get screwed over or taken advantage of. I’ve decided it’s worth it. I’ll get screwed over, hurt, or taken advantage of, but it’ll only be about 1% of the time. I’ve decided that’s well worth the other 99%.
Making that choice is creating the world I want to live in.
We create our own reality. We can either linger on a thought or choose a new one. We can interpret ambiguity as meaning or lackthereof. We can grow or stay the same. We can advocate for ourselves or play the victim. We can remain angry or do the work to let the anger go. These are all decisions, no matter how involuntary they feel. What feels involuntary only seems that way because it has become automatic, habitual. The choice is still there. And in that choice, we create our reality.
We have a say as to how our world looks from the inside. We always have a say. Even resigning ourselves to not having a say is making a choice.
I choose the reality in which people are kind and loving and forgiving. One in which, 99% of the time, my generosity gets reflected back to me tenfold.
What we focus on expands. What we appreciate appreciates. Gratitude is a religion.
No matter how separated we’d like to believe we are, we are all a part of nature. We are interconnected with each blade of grass and arctic fish and jungle bird. We are connected to each other—every single one of us.
The way we treat ourselves is the way we treat others. What we do for ourselves we also do for every other living thing on the planet.
I am worth taking up space. I am worth being seen and heard. I am even worth a little inconvenience. This is not entitlement. This is acknowledging my place in this world, that I am worthy of the same things I want for others.
We live in a complicated world, one much more intense than the world in which we evolved. Human innovation has developed faster than the pace of human evolution, so we are ill-equipped to deal with the many, many sources of information and stimulation coming at us from all angles during all hours of the day. It’s often incredibly hard to live in this world.
Though we’ve been taught about discipline and individualism and achievement, those are not the reminders we need most. We need reminders of grace, forgiveness, and rest. Those are the ways we can balance living in this overstimulating world. Those are the ways we can take care of ourselves.
And taking care of ourselves is a generous, altruistic act. It is each of our individual responsibility to take care of ourselves so we can show up in the world as a fully present human ready to make change and support others.
By not taking care of ourselves, we make other people take care of us. By not being willing to sit with the discomfort of doing work on ourselves, we’re saying, “It’s not worth my time to do the hard work of self-reflection and introspection and change, so you deal with me as I am, no matter how much I hurt you in the process.” (Hurt people hurt people.) We’re saying that everyone else’s time and energy is less valuable than our own.
Not taking care of ourselves is not selfless. (Or if it is, I don’t see that as a good thing.) Not taking care of ourselves is selfish.
Our physical bodies are our connections to this world. They ground us in space and time. Taking care of our physical selves deepens our experience in this world. It allows us to be of greater service to others and to Mother Nature.
Say whatever you want, do whatever you want, eat whatever you want. But be fully present with it. And when you can’t, acknowledge that and be present with the non-presence, too.
The nervous system holds the key to presence, and presence holds the key to happiness.
The more I can be present with what is, the happier I feel.
Rather than dreaming up expectations I communicate to no one (including my conscious self), rather than comparing a moment with how I thought it should be, rather than denying a difficult reality—when I can be present with exactly how a moment or a person shows up, I feel more content.
Approaching life with compassionate curiosity and non-judgment is a worthwhile practice.