And really, just stop saying “should” to yourself about your thoughts and feelings in any context. You feel how you feel. The things in your head are the things in your head. You can’t change either directly through sheer force of will. You can only change what you do. Stop beating yourself up for who and what you are right now–it isn’t productive. Focus on moving forward.
George Saunders gave the commencement address at Syracuse University this past spring and it was recently republished in the New York Times. It touches on the nature of success and kindness.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. […]
[A]ccomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended. […]
Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf - seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.
Franz Kafka, the story goes, encountered a little girl in the park where he went walking daily. She was crying. She had lost her doll and was desolate.
Kafka offered to help her look for the doll and arranged to meet her the next day at the same spot. Unable to find the doll he composed a letter from the doll and read it to her when they met.
“Please do not mourn me, I have gone on a trip to see the world. I will write you of my adventures.” This was the beginning of many letters. When he and the little girl met he read her from these carefully composed letters the imagined adventures of the beloved doll. The little girl was comforted.
When the meetings came to an end Kafka presented her with a doll. She obviously looked different from the original doll. An attached letter explained: “my travels have changed me… “
Many years later, the now grown girl found a letter stuffed into an unnoticed crevice in the cherished replacement doll. In summary it said: “every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
For me there are two wise lessons in this story: Grief and loss are ubiquitous even for a young child. And the way toward healing is to look for how love comes back in another form. - May Benatar