Did This Year Really Matter?


Hourglass

Image via Wikipedia

The end of another year is near. The anticipation of Advent has birthed another Christmas. Now a tired 2011 limps to an end.

Year End Review

For some people, New Year’s festivities are on the horizon. For me, it’s a review time. What about this year called 2011 really mattered? The answer depends on one’s personal definition of “mattered.” I’ll define “mattered” as something that was meaningful. It may only be momentary, but if one can attach significant meaning to the act or event, then I’ll say it mattered.

Minutes Matter

The year 2011 can be divided into 525,600 minutes. Each minute had the potential to have been a meaningful moment that mattered. But how many minutes achieved even memorable status? Far fewer rose to the level of mattering it seems.

Think for a few of these last remaining minutes of 2011. Which of its minutes mattered most to you and why? Will they still matter to you in 2015? How about in 2020?

Look through your planner or online calendar. Read your journal or blog if you wrote one. Scroll through the tweets that you sent and view your Facebook Wall. It’s tax prep time, so review how you spent/invested your money. How did you use your minutes? Sift through your records like an archeologist searching for glimpses of meaning.

Hidden Meaning

What you may never know is how some of your actions had meaningful ripple effects that mattered greatly to others. A smile to a lonely stranger. A note of genuine appreciation to a co-worker. A morning ritual of a wake-up hug and kiss for your kids. Showing up at church on Sunday’s when you really wanted to stay in bed. A random act of kindness because you needed a pick-me-up. They all can matter.

One never knows for certain which of a year’s 525,600 minutes will really matter. Some might argue that all of them do, while others might say that none of them do. I fall somewhere in the middle and hope that more of my minutes mattered than did not. I accept that I have no real way of knowing for sure how many really mattered. But does that fact really matter? Time will tell.

It’s a Matter of Seeing

Perhaps what really matters most is that we stay open to looking for glimpses of what matters in our lives and in the lives of other people. What we recognize and remember—we can potentially repeat.

You Matter, No Matter What

The way one lives one’s life does matter–more than we may ever know. Let’s try to not sleepwalk through another 525,600 minutes and notice what matters to us and how we might have mattered to others, just by being who we were born to be.

I hope that we both collect some meaningful memories that really matter in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Perspective in 10 Seconds or Less


rain drop

Image by anvancy via Flickr

 

Know that

you are

a water drop

in an epic tale

of an amazing ocean.

Control


Ctrl Z

Image via Wikipedia

Ctrl

The control key on my keyboard appears to not work.  I keep typing it by itself in a futile attempt to gain more control over my life, my kids, my dogs, and my job and nothing seems to happen.  If only it were that easy.  What if it is?

Seeking Control

Dictionary.com offers the following definition of control: 1. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.

American Psychological Association (APA): control. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 09, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/control

In a world that sometimes feels out of control, it’s interesting how often we mere mortals attempt to gain control of situations and other people.  We try to exercise direction over, attempt to dominate, or even command that other free thinking human beings should bend to our better judgment, desires, opinions, beliefs, and will. 

Many of us control freaks are most happy to assume the command and control function in almost any situation and to save time, we often don’t even wait to be asked. I remember the famous quote by then Secretary of State, General Alexander Haig who in 1981, told reporters, “I am in control here” as a result of President Roland Reagan’s hospitalization due to having been shot during an assassination attempt.

Frustration+Anger=Depression

Our problems begin to appear when we attempt to control people or situations that are beyond our control or authority. As a result, we get angry or frustrated.

Try as we will, the majority of our most challenging and frustrating life events are in-fact beyond our control. That’s what makes them so frustrating.  We keep hitting our mental “Ctrl” key over and over, harder and harder, and louder and louder and do not get any tangible results most of the time.  The only outcome is our building frustration and anger at the  futility of it all.

Once we reach this exasperating realization, many of us tend to shut down in the form of depression.  Our situation appears hopelessly uncontrollable, so why bother trying?

Some learn this  life truth early in life and make it a guiding excuse for all of their failures and non-attempts.

Serenity’s Secret 

Wisdom gained through experience, is often in the from of a bruised and battered forehead from continually running head-first into the same walls. A lucky person discovers early that there is a secret to ending the frustrating control quest. It is accepting that some things are genuinely beyond one’s control.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change  (control);
Courage to change  (control) the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.” –Reinhold Niebuhr

Real Control

Wisdom and serenity demand that we end our futile efforts to control the uncontrollable.  (My kids will no doubt cite my quote often.) Rather, we can accept fully the responsibility for the two areas of life that we have been granted exclusive control over:

1) My attitudes.

2) My behaviors.

That is pretty much all there really is in each of our personal spans of true control…my attitudes and my behaviors.

In his landmark book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl wrote,

 “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Choose Your Own Way

The path to wisdom and serenity is in accepting full responsiblity for your own attitudes and behaviors or as Frankl says, “choose one’s own way.”  Freedom demands the ability to choose one’s own way. Have you been attempting to form a family-based dictatorship? Are there attitudes and behaviors that are within your power to change that can end your frustrations and anger and maybe life your feelings of depression?

Yes, I know it is true.  Learning to control even a few of one’s thoughts and behaviors can dramatically improve one’s life.  Even if the circumstances do not actually change, their ability to negatively impact one’s inner well-being is negated. Nothing can touch one’s soul without one’s permission.

Are you willing to accept what you can control… your attitudes and your behaviors? Are you willing to give up trying to be god and begin to trust God to manage what is beyond your control?

If you do, wisdom and serenity will be yours and you can begin to live your life, Fired Up!

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