Here’s the deal — the first three-quarters of my life, I was stupid.
Well, book-smart and sidewalk-stupid.
I collected pearls of wisdom and inspirational quotes like a nine-year-old boy collects baseball cards. Here are some of my faves:
- A man is generally as happy as he makes up his mind to be – Abraham Lincoln
- Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of – Benjamin Franklin
- Ask yourself this question: “Will this matter a year from now?” – Richard Carlson
- If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves – Thomas Edison
In other words, concentrate on happy thoughts, don’t waste time, ditch the melodrama, and never underestimate yourself.
Like those? Believe me, the stash runneth over…I’ve got tons more. That’s because I collected them for years and years. And years.
And, like that nine-year-old who pulls his collection out only when (with great self-admiration) he either adds another card or trots out the whole shebang to impress someone, my file o’ wisdom sat neglected. I didn’t have my treasures at the ready, and dusted them off in my leisure time — not when I needed them, when they would do the most good. It was a someday kind of existence. It was living life in the future tense.
So, I stayed right where I was.
Then, a few years ago, an elderly man stopped by my store and, as he shuffled out, I said in my usual voice, “Have a great day.”
He grinned and replied, “If I don’t, it’s my own fault.”
Stopped me cold. His words struck and stuck. That gift, those seven words, changed my life.
It was immediately clear that I own the interpretation of my day. Those wise one-liners I’d been squirreling away simply pointed to roads that led to being happier someday.
Someday was now.
I knew that trying to engineer an immediate, massive personality change would result in an epic fail. I also knew that, while a simple plan is good, simple and easy is better.
After reflecting, here’s what I came up with:
- Be present…stay in the moment…find joy in the moment…don’t multi-task.
- The obvious — get healing sleep, eat wisely, move your body mindfully.
- You can’t control other people’s behaviors and thoughts. You can control yours.
- Pray, meditate, and visualize.
- Give thanks you are able to pray, meditate, and visualize.
- Trust you’re part of a grander plan — you get back what you put out.
When I thought about the old quotes that struck me as worth remembering, each pretty much flowed from one of the 7 Ways in some fashion.
So, the list was simple, but the execution…not so much. Practicing was a challenge at first because it seemed as though I had to monitor every thought. But, with daily focus on one or two of the 7 Ways, each became easier. Not easy. Easier. Like the game of chess, it takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
I often use the old man’s words now when someone tells me to have a great day. And it never fails that the person to whom I’m replying stops — almost in a mental stutter – then does a quick recovery, and smiles. When that happens, I always hope they will continue the ripple and pass the gift on.
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