This week’s article is a general discussion on choice and some things I’ve become more aware of as I’m learning.
For those who don’t know the story about how Time to Play (www.TimetoPlay.com) started, about 4 years ago I realized I had an amazing life, but that I wasn’t “enjoying” life – I was just going through the motions of getting up, going to work, taking care of what I could fit into a 24 hour day and repeating the same thing the next day. Then, as now, I have had a WONDERFUL family, kids, husband (together 31 years) and a great job. I can’t say I have had a bad living experience in any way, but just felt like I wasn’t noticing the “right stuff” as I went along, that the days just flew by, and that I felt like I was missing something.
Time to Play was founded when I decided to start re-learning how to enjoy my life. I came up with the Time to Play Philosophy – you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work life balance to have quality of life. I’m not going to go into the specifics of why I chose each area in this article; perhaps I’ll do that for next week’s article. But, the underlying thought here is that I believe we need to learn what we need to know to enjoy life and the goal of Time to Play. To provide different resources for different people, as I know that everyone’s circumstance is different, and that different people have different needs. But, each of us REALIZING something needs to be learned or that something needs to change is the most important thought here. We can only ignore things for so long. They will always resurface.
The following are the two most important things I have learned, so far, that have made a HUGE difference in how I feel and my general happiness.
The first was learning that I was never in the “NOW”, meaning I was always looking towards tomorrow, not really taking notice what was happening in front of my face. I realized I did not always take notice and enjoy my present experience; I was always thinking of my “to do” list, what was next, and where I had to be. I’m sure many of you can relate, and I believe we’re really conditioned for future-thinking in today’s society. For goodness sakes, there are now Christmas trees for sale in stores in what – September? It’s no wonder why we’re always thinking about the next thing.
The other thing I have learned, and that’s what today’s article is about, is that I have a CHOICE of how I am able to feel at any given moment. This was a HUGE revelation and something everyone is capable of realizing. The most important thing I learned is that it is my choice to remain in a situation. Whatever I was experiencing at that time could enable me to feel GOOD or BAD. I have learned that we do NOT have to stay in a situation, whatever it is, if it makes us feel bad.
I need to digress a moment. I recently read a book by Florence Schovel Shinn called The Game of Life and How to Play It. This book was written in the 1920s. In our book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life (www.IfIKnewThenBook.com) I discussed how history repeats itself if we let it. Since starting Time to Play I’ve become educated through the experiences and teachings of authors including Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peal, Dale Carnegie, etc., who wrote books in the 1950s. Through these and my recent read by Ms. Shinn, I continue to marvel at the wisdom of learning from people who have been here before us. That’s pretty much the basis of our book, as well — “Don’t do what we did – pick yourself up and dust yourself off – we made it, you can too — move forward… “, important lessons we can glean from others every day. I believe that everyone has something to offer that can help another.
O.K., back to our discussion – Ms. Shinn’s book, another I just finished reading, “Ask and It is Given”, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and awareness and teachings by our own Rebecca L. Norrington, Happiness professional on www.TimetoPlay.com, it is emphasized that we are in control of our situations; that we have the option to feel good or bad. There’s really no other choice. Think about it. If you are depressed you feel bad. If you are lonely you feel bad. If you are sick you feel bad. If you are frustrated you feel bad. If you are calm you feel good. If you are happy you feel good. If you feel love, you feel good. What would you prefer?
OK, so I hear you asking, “How is this MY choice? I can’t control the circumstances of every day that I am involved in”. I believe, at this point in my learning, that we may not think we have control over our day and our situations, but I truly believe we do… In line with this, I also now believe we have control over our REACTIONS to ANY occurrence we become faced with.
Stay with me here, and you’ll see why I’m introducing this exercise. We always say “life is short”, but I, for one, had a hard time trying to grasp that concept. Time is, kind of, not tangible. Each day that passes is a day, but what exactly is a day? I had come up with an idea a few weeks ago that helped me make this tangible. Take a dollar out of your pocket. DO IT – I’m watching you (only kidding). Now, look at the dollar. Think about paying for this very second of your life with that dollar. Now let’s go a little broader. Think of this day which contains 24 hours. There are 86,400 seconds in 24 hours. Now, think of paying $86,400 for living this very day. Did you enjoy spending your “money”? I realize that life is more precious than that one dollar; even $86,400. You can’t get back your seconds. There are no refunds. I will go a little further and introduce the idea that every day we wake into a situation that is negative to how we want to feel (if we choose that we want to feel good), we are wasting “money”. Perhaps that will make the concept that “life is short” more tangible for you… it has for me.
Take a quick inventory of your life… your living situation, the things you complain about, your weight, your job… everything. What makes you feel good? What makes you feel frustrated or bad? What do you complain about? What are your “problems”?
We can complain, blame, or accept responsibility to change. Unless you are 100% happy with the way things are, the awareness that we have a choice is the key and the first step towards daily and constant happiness. Studying quality improvement for many years in my healthcare career, I believe there is always room for improvement in ANY situation.
As of this day, I am far from perfect. My goal is to realize when I start to feel contrary to how I want to feel and to be able to alter my reaction or the situation I am in. Funny as it is, this awareness has become transient. My family now helps me “catch” myself when my reaction is not in line with my goals. My determination to be happy has provided them with more awareness about their own day, as well.
All I want, and strive for, is to have a nice day. We all deserve the same. We all deserve the opportunity to enjoy life.
Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC: Is the author of If I Knew then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life (www.ifiknewthenbook.com).Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Professional Coach, a Certified Life Coach, and a New York State Department of Health Lifestyle Coach.
Doreen is the founder of Time to Play, a place to find resources for a better life. She came up with the Time to Play Philosophy that you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance to have quality of life, and believes everyone has the right and the ability to enjoy life.