Monday, July 27, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Love 'em or hate 'em, we're always having to make 'em. Decisions, decisions. Some are easy - cook dinner or go out, what color shirt to wear. Some can be life-changing - whether to go back to school, whether to move to a new city.

Sometimes when we have to make a decision about something, our contentment with life is an issue. We may be unhappy and decide we need to make some changes. So we have to figure out how to go about that. Sometimes we decide just to leave things the way they are. This isn't about how to make decisions, because I don't think there is any guide or how-to article that can help with that. We all know about weighing pros and cons, etc. At the end of the day, making a final decision about something is all on us. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts; sometimes you just have to go for it.

It's not always easy, and sometimes decisions just end up being trying to determine which is the lesser of two evils. I always think of Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds talking to her students about choices and telling them that they always have the ability to choose. One of the students ends up arguing with her that they do not have a choice when it comes to being in class - if they leave class they'll get in trouble, but if they stay they have to put up with her. She tells him that while it may not be one he likes, it is still a choice. He does have the choice of whether to stay in class.

Then of course there are those things in life we don't get to decide because fate does that for us. But we can decide how we react and how we are going to deal with whatever fate has dished out. Fate may hand you an illness, or cause you to lose your job, but you can choose to be angry and bitter, or to have a positive attitude and press on with life.

The worst thing about having to make a decision is the possibility of regrets. We all make bad choices. The important thing is to learn from them and try to keep them from happening again.

Once in a while, we may find ourselves lamenting over a missed opportunity - the "road not taken". Beating yourself up over it is such a waste of time. More opportunities will always come along. It's better to focus on that positive fact than to dwell on the negative regret over the missed opportunity.

Every aspect of our lives is impacted by the decisions we make. While some are stressful, and we may even agonize over them, other decisions can be really easy, and there will always be those decisions we are really glad we made. Another great thing about making decisions is that it shows how many options are available to us, and options are a good thing.

Life is full of choices. It's wonderful that there are so many roads to take, and that we have the freedom to choose them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seizing Those Special Little Moments in Life

Sometimes you can be feeling down and then something really nice happens, or you see something beautiful or funny, and it lifts your spirits. It seems there is always something that jumps out at you and makes you smile. It's as if fate puts it there just when you need it.

You could be having a really bad day, and then maybe you get a phone call or email from an old friend, get a positive message from reading your horoscope, or you notice that the flowers are starting to bloom.

They may not make all your problems go away, but those little moments can, at least for a while, put you in a positive frame of mind. A smile from a baby, an embrace from a loved one. Just some little moment that takes the edge off life's problems.

You can make your own moments, or make someone else's day by just doing simple little things.

Go for a walk, send a funny email, grab the camera and get some pictures of the kids playing, or sit on the beach and let the waves lapping the shore wash over you.

Years after a major happy event occurs in our lives, we can still recall the joys of that day. You may not remember the little ordinary moments that happen, and you may not even remember why you were feeling down before they cheered you up. But they can be just as important, even more so in fact because they can occur anytime.

Sometimes the greatest moments are those that are completely unscripted -those little moments that can make your day, or make you laugh when a moment ago you felt like you may have lost the ability to laugh.

Sometimes you just have to grab onto those little happy moments in life and hold on tight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Julie Andrews said it best (or sang it best) in The Sound of Music, "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad."

Sometimes just thinking about those little things that make us happy can be a great way to lift ourselves out of a dreary mood.

I have my own personal list book, a pretty cloth-covered journal. I started making lists in it years ago. The other day, I sadly entered the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson in my list book. Then I spent a few moments looking at the very first list I made years ago - a long list of all sorts of different things that make me happy, like writing, traveling, watching my cats or having a chocolate chip cookie with a Diet Coke. I got the idea from a little book called 10,000 Things to be Happy About.

It's been a while since I've added to that list, so I figured I'd make a little list here and then transcribe it into my book later. Making a list like this is something I don't mind doing over.

More things that make me happy: going barefoot in the grass or the creek at my favorite park, nice people, my computer, figuring out the words to a song, making others laugh, doing something nice for someone, biting into a fresh pear, peach or plum, collecting state quarters, reminiscing, and, always worth repeating, chocolate!

As we look at our lives and the world around us, we can see that the things that give us happiness heavily outweigh the things that trouble us. Too bad those other things have to suck up so much of our attention!