Today is a New Day!
July 1st, 2013
Today is a new day! I am optimistic enough to agree with this, and I am realistic enough to know that this new day comes freighted with baggage from all the yesterdays of our lives. We humans are blessed and cursed with memory. Everything we are today is shaped by all the experiences of our lives.
Expect the best
A friend of mine who is a psychiatrist has (facetiously?) diagnosed me pronoid: someone who thinks everyone is out to do good things for them. This is true partly because of my experiences in life and partly because I am great at denial.
- *My experience has been that when we expect the best of ourselves and others, we all often live up to the expectations.
- *When we reduce our expectations to below perfection, it is easier for all of us to come closer to the mark.
- *It is easier to forgive and suppress (if not to forget) than we have given ourselves credit for.
Some things are unforgivable. Some things must not be forgotten for our own safety and well-being. Most of the slights and affronts we encounter are neither life-threatening nor spirit-crushing unless we make them so by getting caught in the maze of "what if" and "I should have said/done." Give it a rest. Replace the turmoil with gratefulness, and see if today seems new and bright again.
Any time you catch yourself wallowing in the maze, reliving the affront, STOP. As quickly as they come to mind, name five things for which you are grateful. (Little things, big things, things we often take for granted.) Think about each one for a few seconds and savor the goodness of it. I guarantee you will be out of the morass before you get to the third thing. This takes a couple of minutes. How much longer than that would reveling in the misery take?
Try out some new methods of doing things Today is a new day. Some of us have accepted that "that's just the way it is" for too long. "The way it is" can be changed, and sometimes we are the ones who have to change it. Sometimes we are the ones who have to allow ourselves to be changed. Growth is change. I don't do everything in my 60s that I did in my 20s. (Sometimes I say that with a bit of regret; other times, with jubilation, depending on the context.) Circumstances change. Environments change. Technology changes in a nano-second. We don't move forward for long if we are constantly staring into the rearview mirror.
- Do something.
- Make some mistakes.
- Do something else.
Progress is measured by outcomes, not by the number of attempts. Two detriments to progress are refusing to think of new ways of doing things and failing to act on the new method you thought might be better. "We've always done it this way" is a great reason to explore new methods. Ruts impede rather than propel. "What do we want?" we used to chant in protests. After we shouted our one word answer, the reply was "When to we want it?" "NOW!" Today is the tomorrow we dreamed about yesterday.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
Don't change your whole life today. "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better" was an affirmation I heard a lot in the 1970s. To make it more realistic I'd say today, "Every day in one little way I'm getting better and better." Here are some practical questions to spur our taking advantage of the new day.
- What one outcome in my life would I like to see changed?
- What methods in my everyday life do I need to change to get there?
- What one thing can I begin to do today that will eventually affect that change?
Then do it. It doesn't have to be earth-shaking. Baby-steps are endearing. I have nearly 30 year old photos of our children's first steps. What accolades we gave them! ABCs were a song that our grandchildren mastered at three years or younger. They weren't reading volumes, but they had the basics. One of my treasures is a reel-to-reel tape recording of Phil Pletcher at three singing a Sunday School song for the church. I wonder if his parents had any idea that that little success (with lots of every day determination and practice) would lead to recordings and performances across the country. Think little to move into the best you have to give. Progress, not perfection. One day at a time. These things are cliches for a reason. Do they resonate with you?
What one thing little thing will you do differently today to impact all of your tomorrows?