When I was a kid, my mother always used to tell me to “take the High Road.”
To a kid, especially a boy, that usually meant being a wimp and letting somebody get away with something.
Clint Eastwood would ride into town with is cigar and his pancho, and exact his revenge on all the bad guys. I’m supposed to let them all off the hook?
I never understood.
We live in a society that glamorizes an eye for an eye.
So let’s explore this “high road” stuff. What is it, and why would anybody want to take it?
Somebody has done something terrible to you. It has affected your life in such a negative way that you can’t stop thinking about it. You’re consumed with negative feelings, anger, and even depression. You want justice.
Taking the high road would be to forgive.
Not necessarily to forget or to pretend as though it never happened (although that would suggest a higher level of being). But to release the anger. Stop letting it destroy you. Be the better person. I know. It sounds like a sissy’s way out. But consider this: No matter how badly somebody has wronged you there’s no amount of revenge that will undo their transgressions. No good can come of revenge. Only more hurtfulness. You may feel a sense of vidication, and it might even make you feel like Clint Eastwood in front of your friends, but it will always do more harm than good.
If your goal is to “feel better” or gain a personal satisfaction, then take solace in the fact that you were big enough and strong enough to take that famous high road. When you laugh at the bully you disempower him.
I know. Your situation is different. Somebody really wronged you and you really feel justified to pay them back.
Well guess what? I’ve been betrayed too. I’ve been stolen from, lied to, and gossiped about too; all unjustly.
Don’t think I haven’t plotted and fantasized about recompense. I’m human too.
My favorite line from my favorite movie (Casablanca) is where the sleezy local crook, played by Peter Lorre, sits down with Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and says, “You despise me, don’t you Rick?” Without hesitation Bogey answers back, “If I ever gave you a thought, I probably would.”
Acid destroys the container in which it is stored.
There’s this think called karma. If you react with vengeance and fury, you can bet that the same negative forces will push back against you. If you react with forgiveness, the world will sit up and take notice and karma will pay you back in kind (not to mention the karma that will come to the person who hurt you).
Let it go! That jerk who deserves your wrath doesn’t even exist in your world anymore.
Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Victory is the supreme vengeance in life.
Go ahead, take the high road. Focus on the good stuff. Turn the page.
Have you ever been so focused on a goal that it consumes your every thought?
You can “see the end from the beginning” and you forge ahead obsessively.
You desire victory so badly that you almost “wish away the time.”
There’s a magic to that, but there’s also an unfair illusion at the finish line.
When you finally succeed in reaching your desired result, you learn that the “prize” wasn’t really the prize at all.
The sports championship, the college degree, the boot camp, the big business promotion . . . these are a few examples of desired outcomes.
Imagine, for a moment, a world where you could just “have” these goals.
You don’t have to actually compete for the championship – they just give everybody a trophy on opening day.
College degrees? They just pass them out on the first day of kindergarten.
No need to go work out at the gym. They’ll just declare you “in shape” and use fun house mirrors.
And your business promotion, or big money goal? Here ya go!
Talk to the people who have achieved these things in life. They’ll mostly concur that the end result, while gratifying, was often anti-climactic. They’ll tell you that the “real prize” was what they experienced and endured (good and bad) during the journey toward that desired goal.
The sports championship means nothing without the practice, the battles, the wins and the losses. The champion will tell you that it would have been boring to win every time.
I have yet to meet a college grad who values the “piece of paper” more than the fun, the friendships, and the education attained. And in most cases, those experiences and relationships are far more valuable.
And the business achiever is usually more proud of the person he (or she) has become after experiencing all the trials and tribulations involved with winning; The ups and downs, the people, the lessons of personal development, and the memories.
Steel is forged by fire.
When these winners were going through that fire (and they all had to), most all of them had moments of doubt, and thoughts of giving up. And, ironically, once they reached they finish line those “tough” memories somehow lost their sting. Those horror stories became their favorite stories. And all the winners look back and agree, “it wasn’t so bad.”
So get up, dust yourself off, and stop wasting energy worrying about how long it might take you to reach your goals and dreams.
Laugh at the world when it throws you a curveball. And most importantly, stay focused on the road and enjoy the ride!