So, how’s it going? Are you living the life you want? I mean, right now? John Lennon observed that “life is what is happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Good for a wry laugh. However, I prefer the call-to-action implied in Katherine Hepburn’s succinct statement: “Life is to be lived.”
All too often, people spend their days planning for the future, or recalling the past. Days can be chock-full of striving (for the future) activities, or hiding (from the past) activities, or both. But pre-occupying yourself with either doesn’t change the fact that all we really have is right now. Better Living asks for a present focus.
To me, the concept of better living means to be engaged, to be attuned, right now. To be an active participant in one’s life. Being able to respond to what is going on, not just reacting to it. To be able to be at choice and responsive requires the confidence that you’re living the life you want.
Are you? Earlier, I posited a few “curiosity questions” for you to ask yourself about your relationships with people, with your environment, and with money. The most important relationship, of course, is the one you have with yourself. Are you honest with yourself? Loving? Patient? Encouraging? Accepting? OR are you harshly critical of yourself? Do you minimize your effectiveness, lambast your output, and devalue yourself? That has to stop! It’s only with a kind and affirming eye (the better living way!) that you can honestly assess your life as it really is now. THEN you can actually be at choice to keep what works, and to change other aspects to meet what better living would mean for you.
Take a deep breath, and write down how you spent today. From how you well you slept, to the time you awoke, and all the activities you undertook to prepare for today. Get really detailed! Was your bed comfortable? Is the room dark enough? Quiet enough? Did an alarm awaken you? Music? Or was it the news reporter? Another person?
Onto the activities—did you have sufficient time for showering, or exercising? Or did you start the day in silent contemplation? Did you rush out the door? Did you eat well, did you feed others? Are you the captain of the morning for your household? If so, are you the ONLY one who must do ALL of the managing?! Did you enjoy the morning today?
As you can see, there were almost 20 questions to ask before even one hour had elapsed. Continue through the day—consider work, service activities, socializing, transportation, every activity that you did, and everyone with whom you interacted, until you’re back into your bed at the end of the day.
Now review what you’ve written about the day. Had you spent it in the way you’d wanted? Start a new page, and write now about your ideal day. Again, describe it fully from how you would awaken to how you complete it.
How do the days—the real and the ideal—differ? How are they the same? What do you want to do about it?
Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D.