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Two hands: why not use them both?

Having a great life requires two-handed cooperation


Some people call it “keeping a good balance.” That’s often not the best metaphor. The better metaphor is “using two hands in collaboration.”

We have many sets of two hands. Get them all working/clapping together to great applause.

Two hands: your Now AND your Next


Eckhart Tolle said,

"Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never NOT now."

Your Now, which just wants to feel good now, is important. You don’t know the future for sure. Regardless, even when the future comes, it will be now in your future. So be happy now. Take care of now. Enjoy now. Everything is now anyway. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.”


Your Next, whose job is to feel good in the future, is important. The future will be now at some point, which we are now calling the future. If you don’t take action to have a better future, then when that future becomes now, you will have made it more difficult to be happy now.


Eat the cake now. Be overweight tomorrow. Exercise now. Feel fit tomorrow.


When the “two hands” of your Now and your Next are mutually supportive, then you'll feel great about yourself and you'll be your own best friend.

If they are fighting and your Next is "winning" and your now is tolerating, then you feel bad. If your Now is winning and your Next is blaming your Now or your Next feels resigned, then you feel bad.

Two hands: your Oneself AND your Others


Buddha said, 

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Your Oneself, whose job is to be concerned for your own feelings and your own self-interests, is important. Taking care of yourself. Making sure you’re happy. Saying “no” to others. Making requests of others. Keeping good boundaries with others. Standing up for yourself. Being assertive. Expressing your feelings and desires.

Harold Kushner said,

"Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness."

Your Others, whose job is to be concerned for the feelings and interests of others, is important. Taking care of others. Concern for the thoughts and feelings of others. Saying “yes” to others. Belonging. Avoiding hurting the feelings of others. Looking good to others. Being a team player. Keeping your agreements with others.


When the “two hands” of your Oneself and your Others are mutually supportive, then we are friends with the world.

Two hands: perseverance AND quitaverance


Perseverance and persistence, often in support of Next, are important


Calvin Coolidge said,

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Keep on that diet. Apply for that next job. Master that skill. Ask her out again. Time to go to the gym. Finish your education. Just one more day as a non-drinker. Make your marriage work.


Quitaverance, often in support of Now, is important


As the lyrics of Kenny Rogers expressed,

“You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em.”

More humorously, W.C. Fields quipped,

“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.”


My mother suspected she made a mistake in marrying my father after the first two days. But she believed in perseverance. She finally divorced him after 41 years of persistence. Every time I spoke with her after she left him, she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me how great life would be without him!?”


When the “two hands” of perseverance and quitaverence work together, then the game of life works and makes sense.

Two hands: assertion AND accommodation


Peter McWilliams said,

"Learn to ask for what you want. The worst people can do is not give you what you ask for, which is precisely where you were before you asked."

Josh Billings said,

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”

Assertion is important. Ask for what you want. Say “no” when you want to say “no.” Let others know if something doesn’t work for you. Speak up, don’t be a wimp. Take care of yourself.


Josh Billings also said,

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

Accommodation is important. Dogs are masters of it. Think of what others might want or need. Look for ways to take care of others. Listen first to understand. Try to say “yes” whenever you can. Be sensitive before making requests. If you must say “no,” do it gently and with respect. You are your brother’s keeper.


When the “two hands” of assertion and accommodation dance together, then our relationships work great.

Two hands: structure AND spontaneity


Benjamin Franklin said,

"For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned."

Structure is important. Planning. Following the plan. Getting organized and staying organized. Having regular times for things. Creating and following routines and practices. Having others hold you accountable for things. Making promises. Keeping promises.


Jane Austen said,

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”

Spontaneity and flexibility are important. Feeling free. Being in the moment. Following your feelings and intuition. Doing what you feel like doing. Being a bit or more crazy. Expressing your thoughts and feelings openly as they arise. Canceling your plans and promises and letting the day flow.


When the “two hands” of structure and spontaneity work together, life is even more amazing.


Two hands: peacocking and masking AND innocence and authenticity


Iman said,

"Looking good is a commitment to yourself and to others. Wigs, killer heels, pilates, even fillers - whatever works for you, honey."

Peacocking is important. The peacock with the best display gets the most peahens. Nature built us this way. Politeness. Smiling. Good manners. Dressing nicely, or not at all. Dyeing your hair. Smelling good, or at least not smelling bad. Keeping yourself clean. Decorating your home. White lies. Lies. Trying to appear fair. Being proper. Not showing your anger, judgmentalness, or resentment. Not complaining. Pretending to be confident and fearless. Or sometimes even pretending to be frightened, when you’re not. Creating and maintaining a good reputation. In other words, have fun with the game of guile, which, short of being 14 months old, we all play to varying degrees and forms.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

Innocence, authenticity, and realness are important. Telling the truth. Being open and vulnerable. Not hiding your automatic hurt or anger. Letting go of defensiveness. Trusting the world. What you are is what they get. Listening to and following your heart openly. Not worrying about your reputation and what others think. Doing what you feel like. Letting that child within roam free, fully expressing himself or herself.


When the “two hands” of peacocking and authenticity find a way to work together, life is a blast.

Two hands: mechanism AND intention and commitment


Byron Katie said,

"When you fight with reality, guess who loses?"


Mechanism is important. The car works. The train works. The computer works. If the plane is repaired, then it works. We drink water, then we pee. It works. I shout at you and you get angry. It works. The cancer takes over your body and you die. It works. The doctor sews up the wound and it heals. It works. Objects of a certain size and position, when not otherwise supported, fall towards the earth. It works. Mechanism is everywhere.

Steve Jobs said,

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”


Intention is important. Take a stand. The universe shifts. Decide to do something. Things and events arise to support you. You say you will find a way. And you do. You think the universe is on your side. And it is. You look for the gift in your accident. And you find so many gifts.

When the “two hands” of mechanism and intention support each other, our power and spirit become immense.

Two hands: everything-is-your-business AND nothing-is-your-business


Meir Ezra said,

“You have as much as you create. You create as much as you are willing to create.”


Everything is your business. You are 100% responsible for creating your life as you would like. You are 100% responsible for all the benefits, costs, and risks associated with every choice you make. Anything and everything always comes back to you. You have complete and absolute responsibility.


Byron Katie said,

"And if you practice it for a while, you may come to see that you don’t have any business either and that your life runs perfectly well on its own."

Nothing is your business. You are absolutely choiceless. You can watch the mechanism of your decision machinery. But that mechanism is not you. You can watch one part of your machinery fighting with another part of your machinery. But none of that is you or your business. You can observe your machinery either fighting with or enjoying the machinery of another person. But that fighting or enjoyment has nothing to do with you. You can watch thoughts and feelings flow through you. And these thoughts and feelings are not your business.


When the “two hands” of everything-is-your-business and nothing-is-your-business work together, miracles occur.

Two hands: small picture AND big picture


The proverb says,

"The devil's in the details."

The small picture is important. Just focus on now. Enjoy now. Do this small thing. Make this one thing work. Keep the moment small. Love the moment. Do the moment. It’s all here right now. Nothing else. Swallow. Breathe. Step. Blink. Just be present and focus now. So important.


Steve Goodier said,

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.”

The big picture is important. What are the end results that we want? Does it all work together? Do our actions and tasks have integrity by being mutually supportive? Is this task productive or counterproductive for our target? Are we all aligned together? Does the possibility of our goal inspire the process?


When the “two hands” of the small picture and the big picture flow together, our life becomes a dance.

Two hands: acceptance and love AND let’s-change-the-world


Byron Katie said,

“When I am perfectly clear, what is is what I want.”

Acceptance is important. Love reality. Don’t fight with what is. Love people just as they are and just as they aren’t. Accept and adore yourself exactly the way you are and the way you aren't. Feel and know that everything is already perfect. Bask in the bliss of heaven on earth.


Werner Erhard said,

“Life is a game. In order to have a game, something has to be more important than something else. If what already is, is more important than what isn’t, the game is over. So, life is a game in which what isn’t is more important than what is. Let the good times roll.”

Let’s-change-the-world is important. So exciting to make a plan and set a goal. Let’s make this better. It’ll be quicker and easier another way. I know how to fix that. A cure for cancer would be nice. How about that Hyperloop idea!? If I plant the gardenias now, I’ll be able to enjoy watching them bloom later.


When the “two hands” of acceptance and let’s-change-the-world support each other, heaven and earth combine.

Other dualities to use together

Mind AND body

Masculine AND feminine

Independent AND dependent

Unilateral decisions AND cooperative decisions

Speaking AND listening

Being sensitive AND being insensitive (not caring)

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