My mother had this little ditty she would recite whenever she wanted us to buckle down and do our work.
"Good, better, best," she'd say, "never it rest. Until the good is better and the better is best."
Yeah, it's a little simplistic, but it's also hard to argue with. What? You want to just sit there and be mediocre? Come on, now...
I've been trying to watch my thoughts since 2007 began and I've notice my tendency to get angry and stay angry, like rage is some kind of drug. Of course it is, and if you don't get a handle on it, it can be deadlier than heroin.
I recall incidents in the past, get all worked up, waste time and damage my health. I started getting worked up about something the other day--I can't remember what it was to save my life--and I thought of the line from John Lennon's Christmas song, "war is over if you want it."
Obviously he was talking about wars between nations, but I think it applies to individuals as well. I make myself miserable by getting so angry, but yet I keep doing it, which tells me that, on some level, I must want to be angry.
If that's true, then I can train myself to want something else--like, oh, I don't know...happiness? It's not going to be easy, but I can't afford not to do this. The alternative is a life of misery and poor health.
The web has been jammed with tons of articles about making changes for the new year and most of them are pretty good.
I go back and forth about making resolutions but these articles all accent the positive and that's good for me since I have a lot of trouble eliminating the negative.
Funny You Should Ask
I particularly liked this article by David Bach entitled "Five Principles for Happiness in 2007." All the guy does is ask a series of questions, but if you take them seriously, you can learn a lot about yourself. Give it a try, if you dare...
- What makes you happy at work?
Not a heck of a lot, frankly. I know, I know, who the hell likes work? But there should be more than I getting right now. I got some good feedback on a story I did today and I've been trying to buckle down and do a better job with my new beat. I'll never be in love with it, but I'm trying not to hate it.
- What makes you happy at home?
Same as above, but I'm working on that, too. Getting out more, looking for that special someone.
- What makes you happy with your friends and family?
Laughter, intelligent discussion, memories of my mother and good times.
- What makes you happy when you’re by yourself?
Feeling safe, unhurried. I enjoy peace and quiet.
- What do you love to do?
Watch a good film or play. I didn't say writing because I usually don't love it until I'm done. As Dorothy Parker said, "I hate writing; I love having written."
- What would you do with your life today if you weren’t afraid of failure?
Move to LA and try to be a filmmaker. I love questions like these because fear of failure is such a key part of my psyche. I'm also afraid that I'll look stupid--whatever that means. It's all wrapped in my ego and I know if I can step away from this irrational fear, I'll be much happier.
- What’s not working in your life?
Just about everything. I’m having trouble finishing projects and I can’t seem to hook up with anyone. But then that's what new years are for--to change all that crap.
- What are you currently doing that prevents you from experiencing joy?
I am not making the calls I need to make for a new job. I am not devoting enough time to writing, and when I do devote time to it, I spread myself out on various projects. This could be a way of not finishing anything and thus avoiding the possibility of failure. Unfinished work is always so brilliant.
- What’s working in your life?
When I get down to writing, it goes very well.
- Who in your life is subtracting value from and adding misery to it?
I could name a lot of people here, but that’s just being bitter. Ultimately, I’m the one who subtracts value and adds misery to my life, by not standing up for myself, failing to take risks, avoiding writing and ducking relationships. No one’s holding a gun to my head, as they say.
- Can you fix any of those relationships, or should you let them go from your life?
I should let go of the past, that’s for certain. As far as relationships with others, some I can fix, some I can only stand pat, and then others must end.
- If we were getting together one year from today, what would have to happen for you to be able to tell me that you now have more joy in your life?
Better job, better living situation, wife or a steady girlfriend, and if I’m not published or produced, at least a better handle of my writing projects.
- What’s the single most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a result of answering these questions?
Change is up to me.