Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Day at a Time

   It seems mundane advice to give someone, given that it is not possible to live more than one day at once.  So why is it that people so often offer the adage to another in a tight spot?  It’s because sometimes life comes charging at us with both barrels loaded and it feels like even one minute might be too much to handle.  At those times, it’s essential to remember that we really only have control over the current moment and that is enough to manage.
   Fortunately, all we can affect is what is immediately before us.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, we spend an abundance of energy worrying about what has been and what is to come so that we don’t really live in the present.
   As human beings, we tend to find things to worry about, even when everything is pretty much okay.  We are often thinking about what happened yesterday and wishing we had handled it another way or that things had turned out differently.
   Nothing is ever exactly as we wish it would be; disappointment, anger, sadness are all natural emotions and should be expected.  It’s when we hold on to these emotions that we get into trouble. 
   We might hold onto disappointment about something that did not work out the way we had hoped.  We might still be stewing about some mistreatment we feel we have received.  Perhaps our biggest problem is guilt over hurting someone’s feelings or causing an avoidable disruption.  Perhaps we tend to hold grudges and stay mad instead of using our angry energy to take better care of ourselves or others.  Many of us harbor emotions from past experiences that actually increase the anxiety even more. 
   We all make mistakes.  Noticing them helps us grow.  So does apologizing, changing our course of action and setting new limits.  The idea is to take responsibility for ourselves, make a new decision and take a new action.  Worrying gets us nowhere, except stuck in our heads.
   We cannot affect the past.  We may as well accept that. What we can do is make a decision in the current moment to affect the present circumstances.  We can plan for the future, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how things will really turn out.  A good friend of mine and I used to refer to worrying about what might happen in the future as “making up scary stories”.  This is when you decide what is likely to happen or what someone might do and you get yourself all in a tizzy about it.  This is a huge waste of energy.  The truth is that you don’t know.
   Live life.  Experience this day.  Notice the beauty unfolding before your eyes.  Nature, laughter, the antics of children.  If we set reasonable expectations of what can be accomplished in one day, even when life feels like too much, we realize that we need only make the decisions immediately before us.  Then let go to enjoy what life has to offer today; for tomorrow, it will be gone.

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