Thoughts From Six Feet Away: Good Intentions
Here we are again, another year of hope and promise – we scribble our goals for the year down in haste on New Year’s Day. Most of us want to be in better shape or shed a few pounds, but ultimately life happens and derails all but the most determined. There will be enough success achieved by those in our inner circle to convince us to do it all again next year.
The ongoing COVID pandemic has robbed most of us of our ambitions. Everyone continues to argue with little provocation. I have family members who long for the “good old days,” which means different things to different people. To some, it’s a return to a way of living that, let’s face it, wasn’t appealing to everyone. I’m no different in that desire, but my nostalgic feelings dwell on a time where we at least listened to each other and respected each other’s perspective.
I refuse to succumb to hopelessness. I continue to strive to make myself a better person, to evolve into something that will transcend my time on this rock. It’s become blatantly obvious that I can’t make someone wear a mask or get vaccinated, much less change anyone’s behavior but my own. I had originally planned to share some of my resolutions, but I’ve decided instead to share only one – my intention to be more aware, to abandon my biases and view everyday events with a degree of objectivity. Consider it my “random thoughts” on steroids.
· I’m beginning to think the God above makes us wait so that we’re not distracted when a serious amount of insight is about to drop. (If it makes you feel better to substitute “Fate” or “Life” for “God,” you do you). The other day I was stuck in a drive-thru at Long John Silver’s. I know – I don’t feel any better typing it than you do reading it. Anyway, after about 20 minutes of waiting in line (an occurrence that is becoming all-too frequent since the start of the pandemic), I turn to my wife and say, “I’m going to guess that they’re understaffed, since the lobby is closed.” Imagine my surprise when I get to the window to find one woman, making all the food, pouring all the drinks, collecting all the money, and handing out all the food. I never tip fast food, but that day I did. What did my wait give me? A healthy dose of perspective, and the knowledge that I just met one of the most extraordinary humans I’ve encountered in recent months.
· I’m constantly reminded that happiness is an inside-out process. We chase possessions with the hope of artificially creating joy, but it is fleeting at best. I was in the grocery store looking for an item that ended up completely sold out (another side effect of the pandemic). On the way out, stomping in frustration, I spot a woman’s wallet lying on the ground. I immediately forget my petty concerns and set out to find the woman I passed while walking out, someone I presumed to be the owner of the wallet. I circled the entire store twice and didn’t see her, so I decided to go to the customer service desk to turn it in. It ended up being closed, so then I tried to find identification in the wallet, but I got little more than a name. Just when I was about to give up, I see a harried-looking woman at the door, her mouth agape and pointing. Turns out the owner found me. I reassured her that all her money and cards were still in the wallet, and through tears she told me that she was a single mom, and she didn’t know what she would have done if she hadn’t found the wallet. I have tremendous respect for all single moms out there, and I offered her some words of encouragement before getting in my car. What’s the point? I’m still feeling the happiness generated by that small gesture. To those who wouldn’t have gone to those lengths, look at the psychological payoff and consider it in the future.
· Want to lose weight? Shed the weight of unrealistic expectations placed upon you. Shed the weight of toxic people who only withdraw from your relationship and never make a deposit. Maybe it won’t alter the scale, but you’d be amazed at how much easier it is to shed unwanted pounds when your minds are free.
· I hear so many people utter the phrase, “I need a change,” when really what they mean to say is, “I need to be reminded of why I get up in the morning.” An attitude overhaul is better than a hasty change that puts you in a worse position than before. Trust me on that one – the last time I ‘needed a change,’ I lost two productive years of my career. And that’s happened to me twice. I’ve learned my lesson.
· I’ve grown to despise pessimism. I feel that if we continually discuss the negative, we manifest it in our own lives, like inviting a vampire into the house. I tell my kids that life is a huge buffet. Yes, there’s broccoli and creamed spinach, but if you spend all your time focused on it, you’ll miss the giant table of cake at the other side. I get it, some negative can’t be avoided, but if you know that broccoli is inevitable, eat all the cake you can.
· Most of the conflict in our lives comes from the fact we aren’t always completely honest with those around us. Flawed assumptions are lethal.
· My patients like me because I’m a “straight shooter,” but I’ve learned people don’t like it as much when the gun is pointed at them.
· I’m concerned that we will never trust one another again. Has good faith been eroded to the point that we instantly think someone is trying to control us or lie to us?
· Anger never serves us – we always end up serving it. It’s a lesson I’m trying very hard to learn.
· I’m realizing that common courtesy and compassion have become so rare that people are flabbergasted when they receive it. Or they’re suspicious that they’re being manipulated (see above)
· I’ve become paranoid about manifesting reality through speaking, as I mentioned above. It started with the avoidance of talking about death and disease. Now I don’t even speak of things I don’t want to happen, and I certainly don’t say things like “bad things always happen to me,” or “if it’s a one in a million occurrence, I’m the one.” Again, it gives way to pessimism. And if you know you have a pathologic weakness, stop using it as a crutch and figure out how you’re going to overcome it. I hear so many young people talk about how anxious they are, and I’m reminded of a saying that guided me in my own youth: you’ll either fail because of something or succeed in spite of it.
Hope that wasn’t patronizing or heavy-handed – that was not my goal. I intend to think less about heavy-hitting, profound blog posts in the new year, and focus more on just writing what’s on my mind. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve decided to do this for me. If you’d like to come along for the ride, great. If not, I know I’ll have a good time. As always, be excellent to each other, and…