The famous Tiffany’s window dresser Gene Moore said, “People don’t change. Only their costumes do.” If you don’t believe in change, you will likely only get involved in window dressing, marking time, hoping for the best, expecting little, taking little responsibility for the state of your mind or the world.
If on the other hand, you DO believe in change, it literally changes everything. It gives you a reason to get active, set goals and stay optimistic.
In the movie, Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone defeats the giant Russian boxer, against all odds, in front of a hostile Russian home crowd. In his victory speech he says,
During this fight, I’ve seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me, and in the way I feel about you. In here, there were two guys killing each other, but I guess that’s better than twenty million. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!
If Hollywood doesn’t convince you, here’s my real life story.
Over the last two years, my life has spun out of control. Most people likely haven’t noticed, but I lost my way. I haven’t faced life threatening problems. I never worried where my next meal would come from, or feared for my life. To an outside observer, it would look like I have the perfect life. But I took my good fortune for granted and lost my balance.
I thought I was working 17 hour days to make a living, only to look back two years later and realize that I wasn’t really living. Time management and loss of balance are very middle class problems. But they ARE problems that destroy many lives. I thought I was providing for my family, but really I was neglecting them. If I didn’t have a super patient and accepting wife and kids, I could have lost them.
Something needed to shift for me, and it took our recent 6 week vacation to help me see the elephant in the room of my own mind. One experience stands out.
We were leaving Venice airport, after a couple of tough days lost in Venice in a heat wave and doing battle with a lippy Italian landlord. After getting our boarding passes, we sat down on the grass outside the terminal. We had a bag of grapes, and were tossing them at each other’s mouths. We started throwing them up in the air and trying to catch them. Then things got a bit silly and I threw one as high as I could. I misjudged it and it landed on my top lip, leaving a giant blister in the shape of a grape. It was like in the cartoons when someone gets thumped on the head with a hammer and the lump comes up in the shape of the hammer.
The family laughed at my grape shaped blister for the next few days. It will forever be known in our family as the 2013 grape escape. And it knocked some sense into me.
These are the people that matter, and these are the moments that matter. If I keep working 17 hour days, I miss these moments. I miss out on living and the people I love miss out on me.
So I created a change in my mindset, and so far it’s stuck. I’ve made post vacation intentions before and they’ve only lasted a few days. Soon, the pressure of life piles up and overwhelms the peaceful feeling. But this time is different. I’ve been back two weeks, had a challenge or two, and nothing has shaken my resolve to live with peace and balance. I’m meditating and exercising every day, eating well, sleeping like a baby, enjoying time with my family, even napping in front of TV at night. Life is good! I recommend it!
It’s not even an effort. It’s like the Rilke poem, “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
So I’m writing about it here for two reasons;
1. To keep myself accountable. I will report from time to time on my experience of inner peace, especially once the pressures of life build up.
2. To inspire other people to believe in change. I can change. You can change. We ALL can change.
Your issue might not be time management and balance. Whatever it is, take to heart the words of Garrison Keillor,
I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.
Look at the realities of your life that don’t serve you, look them straight in the eye and deny them. Decide that you will create a different reality and set about making the change you know you need to make.
How long does it take to create this sort of sustainable change? As long as it takes. It took me 6 weeks. Some people claim that 21 days is some sort of magic number. I don’t know about that. I think it’s different for different people, and depends on how stubborn the thought patterns are that created the suffering.
However long it takes, if you’re committed to change, take the time. If balance is your issue, practice balance every day, until balance becomes a lifestyle. If self destructive patterns are your issue, do something kind for yourself every day until it becomes part of your mindset to be kind.
Believe in change. Be committed to change. Create a vision for your life that is SO exciting that the habits needed to create that life are a joy to fulfill. And let me know if you’re on a similar path to a full and peace filled life. Let’s keep each other accountable.