It’s difficult to describe my outlook on life – I’m completely an optimist who can be almost nauseating with my Little Mary Sunshine attitude that the future is nothing but bright. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become much more pragmatic – and although I’m still the crazy optimist, the future doesn’t look so bright to me – in fact, it’s kind of hazy and dull. I’ve settled. When I make a decision I’ll think of what would make me content, not what thrills me. I’ve reached an age where I’m not going to change much. Like Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” I’m in my 50s so I’m a finished product and it ain’t gonna get much better.
However this year my outlook has undergone a dramatic shift. First, I became a disciple of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up and began the process of purging my house. Then I began working Judith Beck’s Beck Diet Solution. I was surprised by the similarities in the basic lessons.
- Be mindful – of your surroundings, your possessions, what you put into your body.
- Surround yourself with things you love.
- Don’t waste precious time and space on things that fail to bring you joy.
- Don’t sell yourself short. You can achieve new things. You can change the way you live.
- “Keep your eye on the prize.” Small changes, every day, add up & help you to achieve your goals.
- Change the way you think and respond, and change your life.
Maybe I’m oblivious, but it seems like I forgot that it’s possible to change – to alter my behaviour. Many years ago I spent a fair bit of time working with a therapist focusing on cognitive change and there was a dramatic, long-lasting positive change in my life. But then I got older and things got good, and I became complacent. And I was really stubborn about it. I yam what I yam so just deal with it.
So over the last few weeks I’ve worked on being “mindful” of everything around me – from my clothes to the linen closet, the garage and the pantry. And I’ve sat quietly while I eat, tasting what I’m putting in my mouth.
As I sat in silence chewing a few days ago, a light bulb went off in my head. This is bigger than losing weight or having drawers filled with perfectly folded socks. This is about turning my back on everything that isn’t working for me, and fulfilling dreams. There are no shackles on me – if it ain’t working, fix it! It’s like my eyes opened and I’m about 15 years old with a whole lifetime in front of me. Put down the damned iPad, turn off the news, dump Facebook and do something.
To hell with my age – I can accomplish all kinds of things. There is nothing stopping me from training for a marathon, going to law school, becoming a landscape architect, designing my own clothes, starting a business. Now I don’t necessarily want to do those things, but my age is not the determining factor. I don’t need to live 30-plus years of Groundhog Day. My life is an enormous blank canvas, just waiting for brushstrokes. I can learn, change, be better. I can stop settling and just being content.
Honestly, for the first time in decades I’m excited about the future!
Time is a commodity – each day has as much value today as it did on the day I was born. Thirty years is thirty years, no matter how old I am when the clock starts. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, said that anyone can become an expert at something with 10,000 hours of practice, which works out to 416 days. If I live another 30 years I’ll have 10,950 days left in my life so I have plenty of time to learn new things. My remaining days are of no less value because they’re in the second half of my life. So why would I throw that time away by being stuck in old thoughts and old ways?
My life is barely half over. I can hardly wait to get started!