Friday, 8 April 2011


a Moment for Wisdom…


Live to please the others, and everyone will love you, except yourself.”


Paul Coelho


Personal Wisdom:

As a percentage of your waking time, how much time in an average day do you spend trying to please others?

How much time do you spend trying to please yourself?

In your mind, are the two mutually exclusive?Can you please yourself AND also please others?

How important is it for you to please others?Do you find yourself trying to please others, at the expense of your own pleasure?Why?

Important: do you believe that others are asking/ demanding that you please them?

Societal Wisdom:

a Moment with Sharif…


As you know, my definition of having one’s values in alignment with one’s actions is AUTHENTICITY. How many of us are authentic in our values and our actions?

Recently, I was speaking to a woman who was complaining about how her neighbor treated her. “She has trouble getting around, so I started doing little things for her… pick up her mail, pick up her prescriptions.Now, she expects me to do these things and is ordering me around like I work for her!”

I said to her, “Why don’t you stop?”

She went on to detail the abuses coming from the neighbor.(It did sound pretty abusive… but of course, I was getting only one side of the story.)Whenever she paused, I repeated,
“Why don’t you stop?”

I said that phrase one dozen times (I am not exaggerating).The thirteenth time, I said something different. I told her, “If I were your neighbor, I would treat you exactly the
same way!”THAT got her to pause a second!I explained, “Where else could I find a personal servant, one who has no intention of ever stopping?”

“But if I stop, she might get angry!”(What she really meant, and the source of the Paul Coelho statement above, is: “She might not love me anymore”.)

And that’s the crux of the problem.

Too many of us believe that love is a “deal”: I do this for you, you give me “love” back.
Quid pro quo.That’s not love, that’s an exchange of services.And, we’re afraid that we won’t get even that much from the Other.

Yes, I believe that in a loving relationship, one extends oneself for the sake of the other, for the happiness of the other.But, that does NOT mean turning oneself into a lap dog, a doormat or a slave.There is an energetic difference between compassion, which flows freely from the heart, and servitude, which does not.

As I tell those in my life: you can rest assured that my “yes” is whole-hearted, since you know I am not afraid to tell you “no”.



PS: The woman mentioned above is still working for her neighbor.Last time I saw her, she said she was taking medication to handle the stress…


All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.

Commonway Institute

for Societal Transformation

PO Box 12541

Portland, OR 97212


To envision and implement a transformation of human societies, one radical enough to match the times, inclusive enough to heal humanity and all other beings, and visionary enough to propel us to the next step of human evolution.



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3 Responses to Friday, 8 April 2011

  1. maja says:

    Great example of how we create our own realities and co-create together! They are mutually involved and the situation is currently disempowering and disrespectful for both women.

    These women have co-created a great space in which to learn their individual lessons.
    Speaking and standing in our truth honors all.

  2. Shirlene Warnock says:

    I needed that – thanks!

  3. Holly Wells says:

    This is lovely, Sharif. As a mediator and conflict resolution “expert,” I think much of my task is helping people empower themselves by simply realizing that they can make choices (too bad this woman wasn’t ready for the help). And there are SO many ways (spiritual, psychological, emotional, etc.) to create the distance from the problem that can allow them to see that there are many more life-affirming options than they had thought possible in any given situation.

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