Two Degrees Makes All the Difference

Two Degrees Makes All the Difference - Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”  —John Steinbeck

I've Been Thinking...

“Preach the gospel at all times. Use words only when necessary.”

I have heard that message echoed in church many times, but I share it with you this morning because I believe it is especially pertinent today.

Spreading good news—being a messenger of what’s good in the world—is something we can all be doing today. Think about it. We don’t even have to speak or write something to spread love, compassion, kindness, or goodness. It’s all about how we show up in the world. It’s all about our actions and how we make people feel.

Are you a messenger of hope, love, and good news? Or are you stuck in a cycle of negativity and doom, pointing fingers and spreading bad news?

Every week in this column, I try to use my platform to make sense of the week that was and provide some hope for the week to come. I do that for you, but I also do it for me. After all, we could all use some hope right now. I know I could. We all need perspective. I know I benefit from perspective that helps me make sense of what’s happening. I benefit from wisdom in whatever form or forum I can find it.

I’m encouraged by those who remind me that things will be OK, maybe even better than they were before. I’m inspired by those who call me up and who ask things from me. I don’t care if they call me up from the past or the present. I just constantly want to be encouraged to rise up and to be a messenger of what’s good in our world.

Here’s the truth, though: things will not get better unless each of us commits to making good on our mission. Better will not come easily. It’s hard work.

That’s why I loved the speech that Kara Lawson, Duke University’s women's basketball head coach, gave this past week. She said, “We wait for stuff to get easier. It will never get easier. What happens is you handle hard better.”

I’m so glad to welcome her and her message to The Sunday Paper this week (see below). Her speech had me saying, “Yes, yes!” and “Preach, sister. Preach!” out loud.

We’ve all got to get better at handling the hard stuff, because things are never going to get easier. Better only comes when we get better at the hard stuff. Handling the hard stuff builds your resilience and self-esteem. It builds your confidence from the inside out.

I grew up with parents who loved doing hard stuff. They had dreams that were bigger than themselves. They had dreams that required stamina, creativity, resilience, and determination. Their dreams were hard to achieve, but they didn’t believe in giving up. They never spoke of easy. In fact, I don’t think I ever heard them utter the word. I know they would be stunned at how easy it is these days to get so much of what you want. They would say that easy gets in the way of the hard. Whenever I would say anything was hard, my mother would say, “I don’t want to hear a yip out of you.” She would ask me what did I expect, did I expect it to not be hard? She would say, “Everything is hard, just keep moving.”

A few weeks ago, my daughter Christina went to a workshop. She said there they spoke about the truth and that sustainable change happens in what they call “two-degree shifts,” small adjustments that have a monumental impact over time. Two-degree shifts, she was told, have the power to change how you see and experience the world. Two degrees is possible, achievable, manageable. It can make a big difference.

Now, you may be sitting there thinking that two degrees is nothing, but it’s actually big. It can be life-changing. Imagine if you made it your mission to simply improve your ability to be a messenger of good by two degrees every day. Imagine if every day you showed up just a little bit better in the world than you did the day before.

I know these are hard times. They are really, really hard times for millions. People are struggling with inflation, gas prices, and a sense of hopelessness, grief, and despair. I know millions of Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. I’ve read the polls. I know others are warning us on a daily basis about the threat to our democracy and calling us to safeguard it, lest we lose what we hold dear.

Yes, these times require perseverance, strength, and hope. We can only get through these times if we believe we can do what Coach Lawson told us we could do. We can only get through these times, I believe, if we each commit to something larger than ourselves. I believe we can rise up if we believe we can make a difference in another person’s life.

So today, think about that. Realize that we can each do what the coach did. Each of us can inspire another. Each of us can help another person shift their perspective of how they see the world, even if it’s just by two degrees.

Two degrees can make a difference. Let’s go.

Love, Maria

Prayer of the Week

Dear God, help me to be a messenger of what is good in this world. Allow me the strength to complete the journey to the other side of "better." Keep me inspired and motivated so that I may do the same for others. Amen.

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