Every time I come home and walk through my door, my pitbull-mix dog Opal runs to greet me. She has done this every time I’ve walked in the door since I adopted her on February 16, 2013. Every. single. time. She loves me, this is true, but she also does not tire of routine or sameness. She doesn’t get jaded or bummed out because she’s been missing me all day.
I walked into a bank today and the young man who greeted me was very enthusiastic about everything: greeting me, asking me if I needed help, guiding me to my appointment, and then going on to greet others. I later learned that he just started working at the bank. Do you remember being new at your job? I do. I loved everything about my day. Nothing could get me down. Everything excited me.
Buddhists have a saying: “Happiness is a choice, not a result.”
Sometimes our most important challenge is to keep life new and choose to not be jaded by things.
I started to lose my way when I learned that our school superintendent did something (it has not been revealed to the public) and will be fired and be paid out several hundreds of thousands of dollars. We just passed a tax hike for education. I’ve been pretty down about it, thinking that certainly, the next expenditure for education will not pass because of this. I got angry thinking about all those tax dollars going to this one woman and not to the thousands of students in our district. But I can’t worry about that. I need to choose to be happy because I have students in front of me now.
I am more productive when I’m happy than when I’m frustrated/disappointed/sad/angry.
Visualizing it happening and then doing more work; or
Thinking about it differently and accepting it for what it is. This last possibility escapes most people. They don’t believe they can think or feel differently about something. And they don’t feel they can accept reality. But they can!
Monkey Mind. It’s what Buddhists call the mind that jumps from one worrying thought to another worrying thought, like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
I am well acquainted with my Monkey Mind – especially since I’ve been working on my novella for Nanowrimo this month. I’m chugging along and it keeps saying, “This is terrible. Seriously. Why do you continue? You should scrap this.”
But I do my best to ignore it and I continue to write because if I listen to it, I’ll stop writing. I’ll be a quitter and the only thing worse than being a bad writer is being a quitter.
I know you’re familiar with Monkey Mind, because you’re listening to it all the time.
What if I miss my plane?
What if I don’t lose the weight before the reunion?
What if I fail as a parent?
Donald Trump is our President! He has no experience! I’m worried that he’ll get us into a war because some other world leader makes fun of his hair!
How do we handle Monkey Mind?
Focus on your breath. Focus on the present moment. Notice it and say, “Oh hello, Monkey Mind. You don’t bother me,” and continue on your way.
“Most sea turtles undergo long migrations, some as far as 1400 miles, between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest.”*
I thought of animals like the sea turtle who complete Herculean tasks as a part of just living. Since I started Nanowrimo and set a daily word count goal for myself, I’ve realized how it’s so important to stick to your daily goals in order to reach your End Goal. If I skip one day, not too big a deal, but if I fail to meet my goals two, three or more days, I’ve now got quite the task in front of me and it only adds to my anxiety.
Your good great health is built on a long string of days doing the right thing: eating well and exercising. If you skip too many days, you’re no longer healthy or fit and it’s just that much more difficult to reach your goal.
If you give 50% effort during several days of work per week (or month), the quality of your work (in general) suffers. You no longer have the respect of your peers, your boss(es) or your clients. Most importantly, you no longer have self-respect.
An off day is OK. But be sure to jump up and start your long journey right again the next day and catch up!
I’m still writing, just haven’t blogged about it. Thought I’d share the progress (and I want to hear from you, too!)
I am an entire day behind on Nanowrimo. As I wrote last night, I have been busy planning and executing my husband’s 50th birthday and it was WELL WORTH IT!
My children’s book is also progressing nicely, my teacher/friend is halfway through the Spanish translation. Yippeee! Somehow, it looks more real when I see progress that someone else has added to it.
When I realized I am not on pace with my Nanowrimo schedule (approximately 900 words/day), I started to feel a bit bad/sad/panicky. And then I was reading The Book of Joy and Desmond Tutu said something that gave me pause: sometimes, our ambition wrecks our happiness.
All the spiritual leaders I know have spoken about this. It’s FINE and GREAT to have ambition, as long as it doesn’t stress you out and cause you negative feelings. I don’t want to give up my goals, but I also don’t want to feel bad when I don’t reach my goals. I’ve always used stress to motivate myself (so my husband tells me). What to do?
Work towards them and remain flexible for a bend in the road. Continue working happily. Continue working through obstacles happily. Work around them and just remain equanimous.