I like to use a lot of water/boating metaphors. I'm not sure why this is, except water analogies fit a lot of life experiences and I really like to swim.
Today is like a boat. The time that comprised yesterday can be described as the wake behind the boat--it's behind us.
I love that. Just me, in my boat (it's a canoe, by the way) just paddling along, today comprised of my current thoughts, feelings and interactions. I gently and sweetly paddle along and allow the current to take me down stream. The wake behind me is nothing more than memories. Although, sometimes, our enjoyment of today is hedged up by the baggage we are always trying to fit into our canoes.
How many of us drag around past events, memories, or emotions that are o-so-over?
I know I do.
But I've learned a trick to be able to actually enjoy today a little bit more:
I choose my own interpretation of events that cause me any distress.
You may be thinking: That's cheating. After all, choosing your own interpretations? Really?? Can you do that???
Yes. Yes you can.
If you think about it, reality itself is just our perceptions. Your reality is based on your perceptions and my reality is based on mine. We could even both be at the same event and interpret it in very different ways--and both interpretations would be "reality". Instead of attaching myself to someone else's version of events, I prefer to choose interpretations that empower me.
Let me give you an example: "Something" happens. Let's say...oh....I run into the driver in front of me. Not fast, just a little tap. I automatically assign meaning to it by saying, "Oh man, this sucks. My day is ruined! I am so dumb!!"
By assigning a meaning to the event (in this case, a negative one) we choose to either empower of dis-empower of the inevitable internal narrative that's going to follow.
I leave the scene of the accident and I say to myself, "I can't believe I did that. I'm such a screw up. It's going to cost money that I don't have when my insurance goes up."
(I stew and stew until I'm feeling pretty rotten about most things in my life.)
In that example, I chose a dis-empowering thought that lead to a negative internal narrative that defined my experience as "bad". I don't know about you--but I don't really enjoy feeling like crap.
So, let's try another one: I run into the guy in front of me. I automatically assign meaning to it by saying, "Oh man, this sucks....well, at least I didn't hit him terribly hard and it looks like there's no major damage, so that's good. No one was hurt either, so there's something else to be grateful for."
In this example, the event still happened, but I chose a different interpretation of the events. It changed from dis-empowered (I'm so dumb) to empowered (It wasn't that bad, and at least no one was hurt) which eventually changes how I relate to the world around me (my behavior).
If I'm feeling good, then the way I feel has a direct effect with everyone I meet after the accident. The positive feelings that I feel are a lot like tossing a stones into a lake. My good feelings create ripples that come right back to me on the shore. Likewise, if I'm tossing out stones of negativity, all that's going to ripple back to me will be more negativity.
Life is hard enough without re-living traumatic events, re-focusing on old grudges, and chewing on past dramas that zap our energy and leave us feeling powerless. I base my joy on how I feel. As I'm sitting in my canoe, I want to feel good as I make my way down the stream. If I need to think about past actions or relationships, I want good feelings of past events in my boat with me.
And here's where choosing your own interpretations come in handy: You get to choose how you feel about moving down the stream. You get to choose, right now, today how you are going to feel.
Now, that doesn't mean that you have to live in denial.
Painting a rosy face on something that is downright ugly will not help you heal or feel better; but choosing not to allow that event to define your life is power. Empowering yourself by choosing your interpretations just makes good sense--while happiness is a very personal decision, it is also decision that has consequences beyond our personal stories. Unhappiness is caused by unhappy people. So it's therefore our responsibility to learn how to navigate our way down the stream, by being gentle with ourselves during the journey and enjoying our lives today.
It sounds a lot like the song, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" don't you think?
I hope that you enjoy your boat ride today, whether it's in a yacht, raft or cruise ship.
But most importantly, may you breathe in the perfume of today...merrily, merrily, merrily.
Today brings me joy. What brings you joy?
"The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." ~Alice Morse Earle