What’s the weather like in your life today?
Cognitive psychology suggests that our state of mind and our mood is affected by our core beliefs and by conversations we’re continually having with ourselves. Our interpretation of experiences and conclusions we come to in our thinking; these things make up “how we’re doing.”
So… how are you doing? What “self talk” has been swirling around in your head today?
Although we may make huge efforts to try to control the things happening in our lives, stuff happens, our plans are changed, sometimes spoiled and our relationships are strained. As Scott Peck mused in “The Road Less Traveled,” life is difficult!
It’s not so much what happens to us,
but how we respond to what’s happening.
Easier said than done, for sure. But true.
What are you making out of the weather that’s coming your way today?
The mystic François Fénelon (1651-1715) suggests that our daily bread is actually that which comes to us each new day; fair or foul. This is what we’ve been given, and what we’re able to work with. No magical thinking, no living in denial, no waiting for the lottery, and no whining.
Carpe diem… seizing the moments that we’ve been given.
That wild bard of the Gold Rush, Canadian poet Robert Service (1874-1958) wrote a persuasive little poem called “contentment.” In this he’s decided that (damn it), he loves all kinds of weather!
An Ancient gaffer once I knew,
Who puffed a pipe and tossed a tankard;
He claimed a hundred years or two,
And for a dozen more he hankered;
So o’er a pint I asked how he
Had kept his timbers tight together;
He grinned and answered: “It maun be
Because I likes all kinds o’ weather.
“Fore every morn when I get up
I lights my clay pipe wi’ a cinder,
And as me mug o’ tea I sup
I looks from out the cottage winder;
And if it’s shade or if it’s shine
Or wind or snow befit to freeze me,
I always say: ‘Well, now that’s fine . . .
It’s just the sorto’ day to please me.’
“For I have found it wise in life
To take the luck the way it’s coming;
A wake, a worry or a wife –
Just carry on and keep a-humming.
And so I lights me pipe o’ clay,
And through the morn on blizzard borders,
I chuckle in me guts and say:
‘It’s just the day the doctor orders.'”
A mighty good philosophy
Thought I, and leads to longer living,
To make the best of things that be,
And take the weather of God’s giving;
So though the sky be ashen grey,
And winds be edged and sleet be slanting,
Heap faggots on the fire and say:
“It’s just the kind of day I’m wanting.”
Though these colloquial words may be trite in the face of raw tragedy and grief, they do have good merit for so many of the trials and misfortunes which come across our paths most days.
The amazing thing is that we can train ourselves to respond to life differently.
Even if we just experiment with the idea of bringing muscular vigour, an optimistic attitude, a brightness and a hope, and even humour to the things happening to us, our days and our lives can take on a very different hue.
It’s anxiety which makes us react angrily when things “go wrong.”
“Make it stop! Make it go away! This isn’t fair!” and “Poor me…”
What attitude do we bring to the events that unfold in our lives every day?
One of my father’s axioms, as we were growing up was this:
“Every misfortune, is an adventure misunderstood.”
I remember him reminding me of this with a “lets get on with it” brightness and energy, after our family home burned to the ground.
How will we nourish our attitude today? And what difference might this make to our anxieties and our feelings of contentment?
A few months ago, the Gates Foundation, supporting research at the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy released a detailed study on the super-rich. In this, a majority of respondents (average net worth $78 Million dollars) indicated that they didn’t quite yet feel financially secure. That (again, on average) just another 25% more wealth than they currently possess would do it for them. As Rockerfeller himself once replied to “How much is enough money!?” “Just a little bit more…”
Experimenting with contentment and nurturing a bit of curiosity and adventure about life’s more difficult spots, is very good for us. And for those around us! Just as compliant and criticism is infectious, so too is someone like the “ancient gaffer” in Service’s poem above.
Give it a shot! Why not? Seize all the bits and pieces of today, but with a renewed sense of optimism and mischief!
Saul of Tarsus (c. AD 5 – c. AD 67) explained his take on this in one of his letters…
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hunger, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
– Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:13
Seems they had to make this effort 2000 years ago as well.
Carpe diem! You’ll be even more fun to be with and might spark some life and love in the one you love most! This is afterall, a kind of “love making!”