This evening I am sitting and thinking about life as I drink a glass of my favourite beer (Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale, in case any of you were wondering). I decided that tonight is a beer night – as I am not feeling classy enough right now to break open the box of wine (haha!). But, in any case, I’m thinking a lot about how the last seven days have gone. I’m pondering over the ups and the downs, the frustrations and the successes, and I keep thinking about a phrase a dear friend used in conversation today: “the bottom line”.
For me, when I think of the bottom line, the underlying or ultimate outcome or criterion (according to Google dictionary), I think of it as kind of my own analysis of the end result of the day. It’s the time when I look in the mirror as I brush my teeth and wash my face before bed that I realize that how my day went really depended on me and my attitude towards it. Crappy things happened and maybe I made them even crappier by my own responses to them. Good things happened (maybe even on a crappy day) and how I reacted to those things also determined their ultimate outcome and perhaps even how they were perceived by others as well.
The reality is always going to be that crappy things can and will happen each day and some things and days are crappier than others. (I am sparing no fancy word choices here as you can tell by my repeated use of the word “crappy”.) There also can be really great days and great things that happen. Sometimes those days and things are even fantastic! The bottom line is all of those days, both good and bad, do happen, making our lives exactly the way they are, taking everything with the good, the bad, and even the ugly.
Our reactions to those “crappy” or fantastic things often make them better or worse when they occur especially when we consider how we react from the way others have treated us. As I have mentioned many times before, I try to live and preach the Golden Rule (treat others the way you would want to be treated), but not everyone shares this point of view. I am reminded of the final analysis quote by Mother Teresa:
The Final Analysis
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
…Forgive them anyway!
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
…Be kind anyway!
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
…Be honest and frank anyway!
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
…Be happy anyway!
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
…Do good anyway!
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
…Give the world the best you’ve got anyway!
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway. (taken from wowzone.com)
The bottom line is that we need to be who we truly are regardless of the way we are treated by others. If we are generous and giving and we end up being taken advantage of, then we should still be generous anyway. If we are kind and thoughtful and we are criticized for it, then we should still be kind anyway. If we are made to feel that we are not good enough or smart enough, then we should still be the best ‘us’ that we can be anyway. People will forget the good we do, they will criticize us for anything they can, and they will be jealous of our successes and happiness. This will happen, but the bottom line is that we must be true to ourselves and do what we believe is right, regardless of it.
The bottom line indeed is that it is not between us and “them” but that it is between us and God, and us and our own conscience. At the end of the day, we are the ones that have to look in the mirror and face ourselves. We are the ones that have to live with our behaviors and the choices which we have made that day, and every day for that matter. Even if those choices and behaviours make us cringe instead of being proud of them, they are ours to own and to take responsibility for.
The bottom line is that at the end of the day I need to be able to say that I make mistakes, but I will learn from them. That will always be the bottom line to me anyway.