Changing seasons are always a source of motivation for me. It's like the natural world is reminding us, once again, for the thousandth time, that change is the only constant. In that spirit, my family spent the weekend cleaning our house, and I mean DEEP cleaning it. Bags of clothes have been delivered to the Salvation Army. Piles of household items and regret purchases are piled in the basement awaiting our upcoming yard sale.
In the process of purging, I found several old journals. What a gift to be able to read my twenty-eight year old self's words. I felt a sense of gratitude at how much I've grown over the past several years. Today I feel strong and whole. In this journal, I was fighting for that but didn't know how to get there, not yet.
One life strategy that I was employing back then was a little something I'll call "externally directed hope." It looked a little something like this:
All of my problems are because of X, Y, Z and if they could go ahead and change that would be great.
In one part of my journal I complained, with numerous exclamation points, about a woman who as of today I cannot remember for the life of me. But apparently she was the bane of my existence and my entire life's happiness rested on her changing her behaviors. But truly, I cannot remember who this woman is! Well really, let's be honest, the woman is me in the end right?
A few years after I wrote those entries, I had a lightbulb moment. I finally realized how to live the adage to "be the change you wish to see in the world." I had to change, not them.
As I chew on a new life challenge, because again, the only constant is change, I've been thinking about the serenity prayer. I think I've gotten pretty good at accepting the things I cannot change and changing the things I can, but it's the wisdom part that keeps tripping me up. When to fight and when to move on? When to hold on and when to let go?
What I am sure of is that relying on an externally directed hope that expects others to change in order to create your happiness is a faulty life strategy. And I'm happy today to know that while I don't have all the answers, at least I'm moving in the right direction.
"But if are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking."
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