The Donut and the Hole

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

We have all been there. We’re looking at the donut but see only the hole. The donut symbolizes the sweetness of our lives; gifts and blessings so obvious we forget they are ours, even though we are encircled by their light and beauty.

The Optiomist's creed, donut, hole, positive thinkingInstead, we focus on the hole, small and insignificant, yet smack in the middle of all our joy. It is so very dark and so…empty. In spite of the greater size and worth of the donut, we are drawn to the empty place; to what is missing.

That empty space represents every disappointment and loss we have ever known. It is the failed relationship, the financial loss, a devastating illness or the job we didn’t get. Even our self-worth can sometimes fit into a space so small we feel like we have none.  How can so much despair fit into such a small space?

We all have the ability to see what is right in front of us, but sometimes we are more focused on what is not there. Do you see the donut, or the hole? We are human; we find what we look for.

Expectations

Everyone has expectations for themselves. We assume these expectations are rational and reasonable but sometimes they are out of proportion to reality.

There is no such thing as a perfect life. The reality is that you will become discouraged, find faults and flaws, and experience frustration from things that did not go as planned. But even when we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we decide to respond to them.

If you must search for the good and believe no matter how much you discover it can’t outshine the darkness, you run the risk of finding less than you deserve. It’s hard to enjoy the gifts you have if you are unable to shift your focus away from those you don’t have. This is a hard way to live.

Stress, bad news and the disappointment of not getting what we want can overwhelm and exhaust us. Setting realistic expectations and keeping things in perspective is a much more effective way of navigating our journey. It frees us from the belief that we are somehow less that we should be.

Perspective

We find what we look for. The law of the Universe is one of cause and effect. For every effect there is a definite cause and for every cause, there is a definite effect. Beliefs, behaviors, and actions create specific patterns that will insert themselves into life as you know it. We become what we think about.

M.C. Escher, cartoon, perspectiveThe law of cause and effect says this: what we think about in our lives we bring about in our lives. It happens even when we aren’t consciously thinking about it. Our thoughts have the ability to set actions and emotions in motion. The energy—positive and negative—that we send out into the Universe reflects back on us.

If we challenge ourselves to accept life as it unfolds, both logically and rationally, we become less fearful of the unknown and better able manage an outcome different than the one we hoped for. The key is perspective.

Perspective is the ability to look at things in more than one way. Acknowledge that you have a particular process or attitude about something; then empower yourself to see a new and different point of view. This isn’t always easy to do, but it develops a broader understanding of just about everything and allows us to let go of idealized and unrealistic outcomes.

Bad Things Happen

Noticing the good doesn’t mean denying the bad realities. It means you are choosing to focus your attention on anything that could create a shift towards a positive experience. You can channel the good by noticing a positive that’s already present in your life or by boldly stepping out of your comfort zone and creating one.

It Always Rains the Hardest on the People Who Deserve the Sun, donutThere will be times when it seems impossible to find what is good or create a good outcome. You might suffer from anxiety or depression, experience a terrible loss, or feel the challenges you face are insurmountable. We are human, there is no blame here.

We will all travel one or more of life’s darker roads and each traveler will have their own way of processing the journey. We should never set our own expectations based on other people’s lives; instead doing the best we can with what we have been given.

Sometimes the best we can do is look for the sun when we find a break in the clouds. Everyone needs a reminder that this is normal in case we start to think we are the only ones who get stuck in the hole.

Good is Always Present

Two elements that empower us to find a positive outcome are commitment to something greater than ourselves and the joy of pursuing and succeeding in things we are passionate about.

You only live once—unless you’re Shirley MacLaine. Our lives are finite and each day is a chance to appreciate the present moment. Enjoy the donut; acknowledge the hole; for both are part of the road we travel.

If, in that black and empty space, there is a loss you never believed you would suffer, then in the wider circle there may also be a blessing you never believed you would find.

Sometimes you might need a magnifying glass—but good is always present.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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