As I was watching the network news last night, I suddenly felt a detachment from the usual gloomy content. Naturally, the vast majority of the television news about the state of the world was bad and threatening. Yet, just for a moment I thought, "Hey, I feel pretty good right now." Despite the "Eve of Destruction" update, I vowed that I would not become more depressed by becoming engrossed in the latest coverage of tragedy, worry, and negative speculation. Today was a part of my life history and I was going to make the best of it in the face of doom.
I am happy to live my life with all of the troubles that surround me and not become fixed on all the woes that would make me so miserable that I would lose my contentment. Choosing to complain about "living in better times" by simply wishing and fantasizing amounts to actively wasting a lifetime. I choose not to let the limited negativity I have experienced from 1951-2012 control my existence. I don't have grand plans for the future. In brief, I love to be alive today.
You know what I mean -- everyone is crying about the escalating price of gas, the lack of good jobs, the threats to America's security, the numerous health issues, the tremendous crime rates, and the devastation of drug addition. And, the news pertaining to these problems represented only part of the half hour woeful broadcast I watched.
As an English teacher, I learned to look for a theme in a story. What was the theme of the news last night? In other words, what was I supposed to take from the broadcast to apply to my life? I concluded that the update pretty much exposed the theme of "Times are getting rough because living continues to become more interdependent and more complicated, and you're just along for the rest of the unpredictable ride."
We Americans suck up the negative because (1) good news makes poor ratings therefore so much reported is sad and/or scandalous, (2) our emotions and morbid curiosity drive us toward a need to engage in dissecting tragedies and misdoings, (3) we have an overwhelming propensity to gossip and speculate about negative outcomes, (4) we have been conditioned to gripe and debate about living conditions by citing blame and scapegoating, and (5) we wake up in the morning preferring to ignore our present state of well being.
$5.00 a gallon gasoline, crooked and inept politicians, lack of money for summer vacations, minimum health care -- the beat of dissatisfaction goes on. It has escalated to such a point that we have begun to find fault in everything, ignoring the blessings of the moment.
The marginally comfortable wage earners are miserable because they believe the "lazy bums" on welfare don't deserve workers' tax money for government assistance. Even the exceeding rich, the group you would assume have certainly "bought" their own happiness, are outraged at being placed in a higher tax bracket. And, of course, the poor feel alienated and forgotten as they believe others discriminate against them and force their inability to maintain an acceptable standard of living.
Guess what, boys and girls? It's our life and in order to reach the maximum potential of joy and satisfaction, we must live it in the conditions in which we find ourselves instead of spending all of our precious time complaining and "wishing on a star."
If, however, we find we are unable to bear our present state,
we must take it upon ourselves to create positive changes.
Many people before us have overcome overwhelming odds
to find a life they enjoy day in and day out.
I'm so tired of hearing about government corruption, public prejudice and the "stinking system" preventing us from enjoying a life in America, a land of continuing opportunity in which millions of foreigners would love to reside. As we do this "blame game" year after year, we have not been able to find pride and delight in living the life that we have chosen.
Full Life or Almost Life
As we recall the times we felt "most alive," we think of times our entire being, body and soul were totally immersed in the moment and in the experience. During these times, we had zero thoughts focused on worrying about the future or regretting the past. Some people call this "living life to the fullest." Shouldn't we aim, within logical bounds, to reproduce the experiences of feeling our Full Life?
In an Almost Life we worry about everything most of the time and about little in the present moment. We speculate on things that could happen without even knowing when or how they might occur. We could get robbed or shot or become the victim of a huge chunk of earthbound space debris. The future is uncertain, and it is coming, whether we worry about it or not. Uncertainties will occur -- we know that. Why choose to shortchange ourselves of precious minutes of life by creating our own stress and unhappiness?
In addition, living an Almost Life is conducive to complaining about the present and finding excuses for our inability to enjoy our lives in whatever the circumstances are. After all, unless we are world leaders, our influence doesn't extend into many major affairs. And, if we desire to become an influential person, we, ourselves, must begin and sustain an arduous, long journey to reach that goal. How many constant Almost Lifers are willing to devote the time and energy to accomplishing that hard work?
What good does it do us to attempt to separate our existence from the realities of the present world? I believe no good whatsoever. The secret is not "separation" but "cohabitation." Our ability to find and continuously enjoy our own pleasures in living entails finding a happy life "within" a real setting filled with bad news. We can make conscious choices that sustain the joy of a Full Life.
In the time it took you to read this, a piece of your life has passed. I hope it wasn't a waste of your precious time. If you are already happy, I hope you find more skills to sustain this wonderful feeling. If you aren't happy, I hope you discover that your life is pretty much what you make it and begin finding those things that you truly enjoy despite your perception of the ugly condition of your world.
Your smile is a gift as is your life. I believe you can "make yourself" smile. The clock is ticking.