The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Points for Participating

This week our task was to “participate in your own life.”  This might be better entitled “when touchy-feely goals happen to cynical people.”

Still, the Jolly Librarian recognizes the importance of such a directive. After all, most of us spend way too much time worrying about the future, agonizing about the past, and simply plodding through the days like a zombie between feedings.

According to author Brett Blumenthal, we  need to concentrate on six areas to participate actively in our own lives:

  • Take time each day to notice what is actually happening.
  • Always be trying something new.
  • Focus on the present.
  • When about to react impulsively, stop and take breaths until you’re in control again.
  • Accept that new challenges will be accompanied by uncomfortable feelings and forge ahead.
  • Shut off the autopilot in your head and focus on consciously making decisions throughout the day.

Our reports:

Colette: I already know I’m getting an abysmal grade this week.  I’ve never been good at just being, unless I’ve gone hundreds of miles from home on a lengthy vacation.  I’ve smelled a lot more foreign roses, I’m afraid, than the ones in my own home town.  Vacations seem to be the only time I grant myself permission to let the “have to’s” of daily life slip away and allow myself the time to bask in the luxury of “get to’s.”  I know I need to focus more on the journeys in life and less on the destinations, but being a hyper-responsible person always seems to get in my way.  If I want to smell more roses, my natural tendency is to go to the local nursery, read up on the care and feeding of roses, and plant my own.  All I can say is that I’m working on it; I have been for years, with sloth like progress.  I’ll know I am a rose smelling, deeply breathing person who has given up thinking, when a task like this doesn’t make me fret over the bad grade I’m sure to get.

Pam: To live each day, each moment, in the present, in the now, being aware…This I feel I have done the past week, as often as I could catch myself. This, I believe has been the very most important challenge we have had thus far…I have been so sensitively aware, bringing myself back when I drifted—which was easy to do, too easy in fact with all of life’s distractions…most of them being inside my own head. For instance, Sunday as I drifted to some worried future place of needing preparation for a future task, I caught myself and brought myself back to the moment at hand– where my cat sat near me awaiting my attention of touch, and the rain drizzled outside my open windows waiting for me to hear. It was so amazingly soothing and peaceful. I was there then, and so okay in that present moment. In fact, I find that these are nearly (perhaps the only) times, when I whisk myself back to the present,  that I am truly okay…that I am not afraid or worried or fretting about some future fear or regretting some past failure (which then catapults me back into worrying about the ‘some future’ event. I am okay in these moments…one moment at a time, ticking through life…around the sun one day at a time, as they say. And I’d be bold enough to say that this is when I feel ‘God’, if there is a Presence that surrounds me, that – or who – lives within me. It is only at these times that I am assured I’m truly alright. It is so peaceful. These moments, sometimes seconds, are the reasons I hang onto hope that there truly is a God to tell you the truth. This week was an important reminder. Come back, come back. Everything’s okay just for this moment. I can survive. Thanks.

Emily: Unless binging on tv on dvd counts as living life, I failed this week. I, however, do take issue with the “stop thinking” portion of this week’s task. And doesn’t going from autopilot to manual actually require *more* thinking? I just don’t know about this lady. But I’m not supposed to think about it, right? Just embrace the experiment!

Jolly Librarian: While I do try to embrace living in the present and not spending an inordinate amount of time in the past or future, I am just a little too cynical for this assignment. I would consider it a great advancement in actively participating in my own life if I could just get out of bed when the alarm goes off!

Grades for this week:

Colette:  A (She is too hard on herself.)

Pam:       A (She is too earnest to receive any other grade.)

Emily:   A (She is a cynical little being,  but you’ve got to love her!)

Jolly Librarian: A  (Okay, it’s probably obvious that I don’t think you can count points off for life participation.)

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One thought on “The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Points for Participating

  1. Loved everyone being open enough to share honestly. My mind pricked up when I read Colette’s words, which I hadn’t thought about being the case in my own life but which were a very interesting and insightful way of perceiving how true it surely is that we often have to go away to be able to participate in right now. What is WRONG with us? Good grief, we must be doing something wrong in this great journey to live as such. I think, too, the reason I beleive that we’ve all gotten somewhere lost along the way of understanding how to live in a more meaningful way is this thought–WHY ARE WE HERE? The absentness of NOT being here in the moment makes this floating through life doing often-just-exsisting living so …well, unmeaningful, really…Anyway, thanks for the A. Do I ramble??? Let me worry on that a bit and ….

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