This past January, I made only one resolution. I usually make a list of goals to check off as the year goes by. This year, however, I felt like I could sum up my wishes and goals for 2007 in one sentence: “Live each day for the joy of it and stop stalling on all the logistics.” This loosely translates to, “Life is a Journey, not a Destination.” Being a Virgo, a first-born child of four, and a hyper-organized person, this resolution has, for the past several months, proven to be the best one I have ever made.
I like to be in control…of everything. This trait has become more noticeable over the years as levels of responsibilities have increased, and life has come to seem more and more fragile. Grad school really did me in. I went from shunning a planner to being an addict, toting it along with me like a trusty water bottle. Water is the source of life; a planner is not. I didn’t realize the degree to which I was allowing logistics to influence my short and long-term decisions. This boiled down to developing a fear of the unknown or unexpected, and pushing away the possibility of living spontaneously. I could vaguely remember a time when people described me as “happy-go-lucky.” That title implies a sense of uncalculated whimsy, doesn’t it? It means that I was perceived, at least, as being happy and optimistic despite the occasional mishap or, how do you say…”logistical error.” When and how did I become so off-kilter and how could I find that same sense of whimsy and balance in my adult life?
I live an incredibly easy life and have come to believe that humans create their own happiness within the context of their lives. Likewise, we create our own misery, even within the context of an easy life. Negativity manifests itself underneath my eyelids before waking some mornings like a fog rolling in. We’ve all woken up at some point feeling “off” without being able to figure out why. This, of course, leaves us with a sense of having lost control of our emotions somewhere along the way, whether during sleep or as a result of an occurrence during the day. How can we push through this fog of negativity quickly and efficiently and live each day simply for the joy of it? And can we do it without implementing control and force?
For me, this is where my resolution comes in. A logistic is what gets us from point A to point B. It is the plan we have to make for the future that prevents us from enjoying what is going on in the present.
Certainly, it pays to plan ahead in many circumstances and a well-laid plan is often preferred. But when logistics cause us to feel overwhelmed and stressed, then it is clear that we are spending too much time and energy on them. We have thus relinquished control to the Great To-Do List of Life.
Since making my resolution, I have responded to this dilemma by doing the following: When I am bothered by something that is not happening in the present moment (i.e. something that I’m going to have to deal with later), I give myself a silent cue and take a deep breath to shift my focus to the present moment. Dwelling on it now is not allowing me to feel happy now. I am stalling on negativity and not doing justice to my hour/day/life. “Now” has its own array of experiences and emotions and I might miss out on them if I am simply planning ahead and worrying about logistics.
I have started to say each morning upon waking, before any other thoughts about the day are allowed to creep in, “This is going to be a great day. Today is my one chance to have a great day.” It’s a simple endeavor, and doesn’t involve force or control as long as you put your mind to it first thing. It puts all my focus on just one day, which is much less overwhelming than thinking about everything I’m going to have to do over the next week/month/year. It also limits my To-Do list to one goal, having a great day, which is a lot easier than thinking about all the little things that need to be done. Having a great day is a subjective experience and, as I mentioned before, you control (for lack of a better word) whether your day, no matter what happens good or bad, is happy or miserable. It is a choice and having a choice is a very happy thing.
Larissa Chace Smith, 3/31/07