Let Your Better Self Shine
I have a confession to make: I like Shine from Yahoo!
I'm pretty sure it's for women, with fruity colors and Cosmo-esque content. But I like it.
The traits Blumenthal most admires (spoiler alert!) are selflessness, tolerance, genuineness, sensitivity, integrity and humility. She readily admits, however, that the list could be much longer.
This article's title invites the inevitable comparison to Dr. Stephen Covey's 1989 international bestseller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. These are habits he recommends, not traits, but there is some overlap.
Covey recommends that we 1) Be proactive; 2) Begin with the end in mind; 3) Put first things first; 4) Think Win/Win; 5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood; 6) Synergize; and, 7) Sharpen the saw.
No spoiler alert required here. Though some of these phrases, like "Think Win/Win" have made their way into the culture at large, you have to read the book to understand what they mean.
Covey came out with one more habit, in a 2004 book aptly titled The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
. The habit: "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs."
Going back even further, Dale Carnegie's 1937 How to Win Friends and Influence People, which contains too many traits to list here, is as valid advice during the Great Recession as it was during the Great Depression.
What all of these have in common is their approach, which is what I would call Aristotelian. They're addressing what is essentially a spiritual issue on the level of thinking. They're telling us to think about it and do these things to be better, more effective or more influential.
And that's great! But if you've ever read any of these, you may have come away saying, "Yes, I see that I should be selfless and tolerant and humble, but at crunch time I can't seem to do it, or at least not consistently."
This is because these writers are explaining their advice from an enlightened mind into an unenlightened mind. I'm sure Carnegie, Covey and Blumenthal embody the principles they teach. They get it. The rest of us find ourselves on the outside looking in.
Covey comes closest to addressing this problem when he says that real change requires a paradigm shift. He writes: "Paradigm shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful change." But paradigm shifts remain on the level of thought themselves, and Covey doesn't tell us how we can make them happen.
Maybe that's because we can't make them happen. Eckhart Tolle, in his bestseller A New Earth, says such a change of direction doesn't take place on the level of thinking, and it requires a divine touch. He writes, "The first awakening, the first glimpse of consciousness without thought, happens by grace, without any doing on your part."
In another passage, he reiterates, "There is nothing you can do to become free of the ego. When that shift happens, which is the shift from thinking to awareness, an intelligence far greater than the ego’s cleverness begins to operate in your life."
If it's out of our hands, what can
we do? Another pretty important Spiritual Teacher once said
, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
That's pretty definitive. My advice to you, then, would be to do the best you can, and in the meantime keep looking.
Toward that end, there's nothing wrong with tuning into Shine from Yahoo!
from time to time . . . and that goes for both women and men.