"When all your desires are distilled you will cast just two votes: To love more and to be happy."
In the spirit of both Eastern and Western traditions, in The Ten Commitments: Translating Good Intentions into Great Choices, Dr. David Simon shows how changing our mindset from self-imposed edicts to personal commitment can help us make the life transformations we seek. By committing to loving more openly, embracing abundance, relaxing and being authentic, we translate our desires into actions that bring about peacefulness, vitality and purpose.
Commitment is Intention
"For our lives to change, we have to change."
According to Dr. Simon, commitment is a one-pointed intention toward the fulfillment of our deepest desires. Intentions that carry such power never return to their un-manifested state. The fulfilment of a commitment is realized when our intentions become our automatic style of functioning in the world. The actions we take move us through a door of change through which we don’t plan to return.
To make solid choices that reflect the type of person we really want to be, we are offered Commitments (along with reflections and practices) within 10 realms:
Commit to Freedom
"In the defense our image, we imprison our spirit."
As David says, most people live in voluntary confinement, believing the security gained outweighs the freedom surrendered. Many mistakenly believe external forces limit their happiness. Ironically, our favorite fairy tales and epic sagas are the stories of heroic characters overcoming obstacles to freedom. These internal adversaries are embodied as the troll hiding under the bridge, the wicked witch and the wolf in the woods.
Interestingly, opportunities to be liberated from our conditioned responses present themselves daily. Here is a step-by-step process to create such freedom:
- Identify a violation. The most recent time you were upset might involve a colleague chiding you for being late to a meeting. (You go on the offensive and rationalize all the company responsibilities that made you late.)
- Get clear on the details. Close your eyes and evoke the sounds and images that provoked you. (In response to their critical tone, your self-talk says: “Who does she think she is? I don’t need her telling me how to do my job!”)
- Acknowledge the sensations. Describe the emotions that arise while observing your inner dialogue. (You’re offended and exasperated.)
- Recognize the trespass. See if you can recognize the upsetting encounter as a violation of your self-image. (Your insecurity and self-importance are aroused.)
- Reclaim your sanity. Envision how you could have responded in a way that would be less reactive and more empowering. (You could use the unsolicited information to create more breathing room between your tasks.)
Commit to Acceptance
"I encourage you to look for and nurture the seeds of rebirth in the ashes of loss."
Acceptance for the author means focusing on the present while assessing the choices available to you now. If there are many possibilities, make the choice likely to bring about the best results. If there is only one choice, take it. If there are no obvious choices, relax and accept that for the moment, you cannot do anything.
To reinforce this point, an example is made of Lauren, a senior investment manager in a large organization who was abruptly downsized. After several months of anger, anxiety and depression, she finds a new role with a smaller company where she experiences greater control of her life and more satisfying relationships with clients plus staff.
To enhance the essence of this Commitment, we are further encouraged to:
- Take time at the end of every day to let go of any hurt, frustration, hostility, resentment or regret. Spend five minutes breathing and quieting your mind. Tune into your stomach, heart and throat to release lingering sensations. This avoids carrying unnecessary pain from today into tomorrow.
- Not beat up on ourselves over choices that seemed right at the time, but appear ill-conceived in retrospect. Apparent errors in judgment often provide the most valuable lessons, expanding our capacity for humility and compassion.
- Remind ourselves on a regular basis that everyone is doing their best from their level of awareness. For instance, an independent four-year old child spilling milk while pouring a drink would (hopefully) not incur our wrath.
As Deepak Chopra writes in the foreword, our planet stands at a crossroads. We can either continue to relate to each other with a tribal mentality or we can pierce the mask of “me against you” to embrace our underlying unity. What Dr. Simon does in this volume is to offer a practical path to speed our evolution individually and collectively for the benefit of our children, grandchildren and generations to follow.