Now that I am no longer in the workforce, there is no need to get out of bed early in the morning. The alarm is only set for the days I go to a morning exercise class. Other than that, I let my body dictate how much sleep it needs.
Last week, for several days in a row, I arose and left the house while it was still dark outside. It would have been easy to grumble and complain about the early start and the long days.
Instead, I changed my attitude from, “I hate to get up this early” to “I choose to get up early for the benefit of ..” I was privileged to spend my days with an amazing group of people who are changing the world one heart at a time. For me, the benefit far outweighed a few hours of lost sleep.
This attitude is not just useful for getting me out of bed in the morning. It can be used throughout the day in a myriad of ways.
When I consciously think of what I get to do, rather than what I have to do, my mind shifts from unhappiness to gratitude. It’s amazing the difference this simple change in focus makes.
Things I would normally take for granted are appreciated. The abundance in my life is recognized and I become a more positive person to be around.
I may not have control over all situations in my life but I can choose how to react to them. I choose to look for the benefit and live in gratitude.
Our aquafit instructor asked us to do a cross-country ski movement with our arms and legs. The added twist was we had to do this without letting our feet touch the bottom of the pool.
She said, “The resistance will be felt in your whole body, from the neck down.” While completing the exercise I thought, “My resistance is normally felt from the neck up!”
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. My mindset controls what I am capable of achieving.
Years ago I clipped a cartoon out of the paper and had it displayed on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve realized that I’m the only one keeping me from reaching my full potential.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”
This served as a powerful reminder to get out of my own way. Too often the resistance I face doesn’t come from outside sources but from myself.
I read an excerpt from the book, Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado that addressed this very well. He said the widest river in the world is not the Amazon or the Nile. It is a body of water called ‘If Only’. He talked about the number of people who stand on its banks wanting to cross but never doing it. They are convinced the ‘If Only’ river is what separates them from the good life.
We all have a choice to make. Are we going to let the resistance in our minds stop us or are we going to cross the ‘If Only’ river?
“The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Max Lucado
My frustration level was high and I wanted to quit. “It’s no use,” I thought. “I’ve never been artistic and just can’t do this.”
The class I found myself in was not what I expected. Self-criticism was at an all-time high as I muttered inwardly. My work looked nothing like that of the instructor and I wondered if I should attempt to quietly slip out the door so as not to embarrass myself further.
Then the instructor said something that changed my entire outlook. Her words, “Give yourself permission to be a beginner,” were not directed to me but still hit me hard.
Why did I expect to be an expert at a craft I’d never tried before? This was totally unrealistic. Yet, I grew impatient with myself for needing time and practice to accomplish this new skill.
One thing I knew for sure; I would never learn it if I quit trying. It was time to change my mindset.
I thought back to my first attempts at writing. Only by persevering, studying my craft and learning from my mistakes did I start to improve. There is still much to learn but the more I work at it, the better the chance of continued improvement. If I hadn’t given myself permission to be a beginner I would not have discovered the passion I now have for writing.
This year my writing was accepted for publication in three anthologies. Each of these stories was written, refined, edited and rewritten many times before they were ready to be submitted for consideration. My first draft was not good enough. Nor, was the second or third.
Any new skill takes practice and by exploring new things and putting time and effort into them, there’s no telling what new abilities and passions I will discover.