Living Well and Empowerment

Back in an early season of Frasier, Frasier Crane says, “You know the expression, “Living well is the best revenge.”  Niles replies, “It’s a wonderful expression.  I just don’t know how true it is.  You don’t see it turning up in a lot of opera plots.”

This cracks me up every time.  While most of our entertainment is geared around seeking more exciting revenge, living well is a far better option.  Perhaps our focus shouldn’t be on the revenge itself, but rather on living well.

Revenge is a petty thing and a dangerous thing.  Living with an aim for revenge is self –destructive in the same way as choosing not to forgive.  Biblical wisdom warns us against seeking revenge as well.  I believe that the willful attempt to seek revenge is personally damaging.  You aim to damage another person, but you only damage yourself.

Revenge is not empowering.  Revenge is a small minded concept.  It keeps your focus on something negative and ties your actions back to satisfy something that went wrong in your life.  People say revenge is sweet, but I have never gotten back at someone and felt any better for it.  Usually, you feel worse, still upset, and now also petty because you acted beneath yourself.

The empowering part of the message is living well.  We should live well for the sake of living well.  We only get one life to live and we can’t possibly enjoy everything that the world has to offer if we are focused on the negative pieces of our past.  When we think of all the good we are capable of doing, what a terrible waste to spend that energy on revenge instead!

I found myself in an elevated conflict a long time ago with someone who began seeking petty revenge against me and then escalated it further and further.  I made it clear that I would not tolerate the behavior, but (even when I was tempted in certain moments) never reciprocated.  Sometimes the temptation got pretty strong, but I resisted.  In the end, I have no regrets.  The situation sort of fizzled out, with her looking foolish and me looking stoic (and that isn’t always something I do well, as excitable as I can be!).  I had no regrets, and while she was plotting, I was working toward a promotion – which I achieved successfully.  Time well spent!

I think of my closest friends and family and how successful they appear and, most importantly, how happy they are.  They don’t spend their idle hours skulking around and plotting against the people who dislike them.  They are volunteers, they work with charities, and they are community participators.  They are the ones creating small businesses, donating their talents to different organizations, working to make their dreams come true.  They are creators of new processes, ideas, and works of art.  They are living well, and an inspiration to me. 

Perhaps the saying should be, “living well is the best way to feel empowered!”