November 9th: Beginnings
I love beginnings- the start of a new book (whether I’m reading it or writing it), a new relationship, the first day in a new house, when you are standing in the living room, looking around at the clean floors and the empty walls, deciding where things will go.
That’s probably why I love these early mornings so much, too; if I get up super early, I get just that much more newness out of the day. Time to decide what I can accomplish in the hours ahead, time to set myself up for the best possible outcome by meditating and honoring my creative pursuits, setting intentions and practicing gratitude- you know, all that hokey shit I’m into. Listen, I am practical, realistic, and honest to the point of being blunt, so I know how annoying and weird all this woo-woo spiritual stuff can sound. I also know that it works for me. And if it helps me, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t help you, or anyone else, for that matter. No matter what your circumstances happen to be, gratitude, meditation (or mindfulness), goals (or intentions), and creativity (or doing something that fills you with joy), when pursued regularly, will benefit your life. Take the spiritual component out if it makes you feel more comfortable, and you still have a worthwhile endeavor. Unless you are profoundly depressed, in which case it is basically impossible to believe that happiness will ever exist or even that it ever has existed in your life (I was gifted this knowledge by post-partum depression, circa 2010), or dealing with another mental illness that distorts reality, the practices I’ve listed are more than just mumbo-jumbo.
Mindfulness and meditation have helped me become aware of my thoughts and slow down enough to start to change them. Setting intentions and goals gives me direction and purpose. Being creative or doing something that makes me happy…well, it makes me happy. Joy is super important. And expressing gratitude underlines how much is going right, even when my feelings don’t match my situation. You can feel terrible, and still have so much to be grateful for.
So, back to beginnings- I love mornings, and Monday’s, my birthday, New Year’s, new moons, new months…all of those things. I’m a sucker for a fresh start. The start of something new is ripe with possibility, like the first blank page in a notebook.
But here’s the thing- you don’t have to wait for Monday to roll around to start over again. You can– hell, “Next Monday” is the second most popular day to start a diet, right behind “tomorrow”. The problem with next Monday’s and tomorrow’s is that they have a habit of staying just a little bit ahead of us, in the future. That’s why, even if it’s 2:45 on a Wednesday afternoon from hell, you can choose right then and there, to start over. You can take a deep, dramatic breath, super loud if you want- you can even slump down in your chair and scrunch your eyes shut or shake your hands like you are trying to dry them off, if it helps. Or, you can simply, silently decide “Okay, enough of this.”, and you can reboot. Make a small shift in your behavior or your attitude, and change direction.
And I say your behavior and your attitude because, of course, those are the only things you can control. You can’t keep your coworkers from bringing in piles of baked goods every day, but you don’t have to eat them. You can’t keep slow drivers out of the fast lane, but you don’t have to get enraged over it. You can’t stop life from happening exactly the way it does, but you can choose how you respond to it. Even if you have been grouchy and angry and miserable all day long and it’s eight p.m., you can stop right now and start over.
Today, I want to thank you for hearing me out. I know this was a little longer than usual, but I needed to share this with you. If you realize you are in the habit of being unhappy, you owe it to yourself to change that. If your thoughts are mostly negative, if your life is just this side of miserable, if nothing is working out the way you wanted…give yourself permission to start over. I’m not talking about running away, I’m talking about changing your perspective. Trying something different. We are creatures of habit, and sometimes we don’t even realize the impact our own thoughts and words and attitude have on our lives. I encourage you to pay attention. Think about it. And, whenever you need to, however it looks for you- don’t be afraid to start over. The beginning is wherever you want it to be.