According to the news and the daytime talk shows we are all obese, stressed, sleep deprived, and worried about the economy. I can’t do much about the big problems in your life. I can’t cure diseases or pay off your debts. I can’t make your spouse or children behave better. But I can offer you a few simple tips that have improved my life. Perhaps one or two of these will help you…at least for today.
- Give yourself more time. I changed my life profoundly when I started getting up earlier. If you add even thirty minutes to your morning schedule you may find yourself with time to pray, read your Bible, eat breakfast, exercise, or just complete your usual routine in a calmer fashion. The idea of “sleeping in” sounds good, but isn’t really beneficial if the result is that you “hit the ground running” and must rush through the morning in order to get to work on time. Most people stay up too late at night doing something absolutely worthless…watching television. Surely it is better to give up entertainment in exchange for a better start to your day!
- Be understanding of yourself and others. I start each day with the intention of doing the best I can and I pray that God gives me the wisdom and strength to cope with whatever happens. I try not to be too critical of myself or others. I try to remember that I really have no idea what someone else might be coping with or how that might affect their reaction to me. So I try to be kind and understanding. Am I always successful? No. Do I ever hurt someone’s feelings? Of course; but striving to do better and be better is much more satisfying than giving up.
- Be more than polite. We live in a world that has forgotten its manners. “Please” and “thank you” are often abandoned in our rush to get on to the next task. And technology has made us oblivious to personal contact. I’ve noticed that people can be right in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone, but when their phone rings they pick it up and start talking as though the person in front of them doesn’t exist. Or they carry on a phone conversation while transacting other business. I once watched a woman go through the line at Wal-Mart, pay for her purchases, and put her sacks in the cart without ever pausing in her phone conversation or speaking to the cashier. I’m sure she was much too busy and important for “have a nice day”. I know that was critical, but believe me the conversation didn’t sound the least bit urgent. We have to get back to more than the basics of politeness. Our “thank you” can’t be the equivalent of a child’s perfunctory apology. We all know how meaningful that is! We have to go the extra mile. Compliment someone. Smile. Tell the next person who helps you that you really appreciate their kindness.
- Let it go. Dwelling on the mistakes of the past is one of the most destructive things we can do. If you make a mistake you may have the opportunity to change the consequences of it in some way. You might be able to apologize, pay for something, explain a misunderstanding, or even create a new situation with a better outcome. But you can’t go back and change the mistake you made. It happened, it’s over. Let it go. People who dwell on their mistakes lose sleep, overeat, become depressed, and weaken their relationships with others. They “what if” themselves into a black hole of despair. And it has been my experience that people who don’t forgive themselves seldom forgive me!
- Worry more about what you do, than how you look doing it. Have you ever really considered how much time, energy, thought, and money we devote to how we look? If an alien from another planet studied our shampoo commercials he would think that split ends were right up there with cancer! Bleached teeth have become the hallmark of hygiene. And wrinkles…my goodness… if you have those you might as well stay home and hide. Seriously folks; with all the problems facing the world, do we honestly think that having shiny hair and white teeth and smooth skin deserves all this money and attention? I don’t want to see everyone with dirty hair and bits of broccoli in their teeth, but it is too easy in our society to go from being concerned with how you look, to being obsessed about it. What you do and how you act and what you say should always take precedence over how you look.
I don’t have all the answers, but I’m usually a positive person and most days I enjoy myself and the people around me. I like what I’m doing and I have a few goals for improvement. However, I’ll throw in a bonus tip for you- don’t kick yourself when you’re down. No one is in a good mood every day. No one has perfect behavior. No one meets all of their goals. Sometimes you just survive the day and hope the next one is better.