I was reading another blogger’s post the other day where and he talked about what a successful life he was living by society’s standards but wasn’t ever really happy or satisfied. He did a 180 and quit the rat-race and altered everything about his life that he thought was getting in the way of what he found to be important. He calls it playing life as if it were a game. We’ve all heard that analogy, but do we really understand what that means? I know it never resonated with me until I read it on his blog.
I spent my 20’s reading every new age self-help book I could get my hands on to try to figure out why I felt like I would never have any passion or success in my life from a career standpoint. I had a great marriage, no children, and a waning massage therapy practice, and only a smattering of credits towards an AA degree. As an artist, it never seemed important to spend thousands of dollars on an art degree that wouldn’t guarantee a job at its conclusion. Besides, I wasn’t interesedt in computer graphics or any of the other office cubicle options an art degree would offer. So I bounced around between self help books and a couple of retail jobs in home improvement and paint stores. Little did I know that those “little” jobs would be the education I needed to launch me into a design career that has afforded me all aspects of creativity (and plenty of stress, like any job.)
So here I sit at 41 and I finally get it! I get that life is a game (tune in next week when I get pissed and accuse life of cheating and abandon all home, again!) It isn’t at all because my life is perfect. I could stand to limit my vices, lose more weight that I like to acknowledge, practice better fiscal responsibility. I’m a glutton of all things wonderful, and although those things are wonderful in the moment, they were the foundation for my pursuit of answers and solutions in my 20’s, and I am still trying to decide if I am ready to assume the responsibility of not only admission of character flaws but also the practice of not letting them own me. I think I am starting to get it.
Over the last year, I have worked hard not to give voice to everything that irritates me, scares me, or hurts me at least until after I have dealt with it within, and can put a funny or positive spin on it. I’m not good at it all the time, and surely I vent about people and situations that piss me off to my close confidants but I don’t post every negative thing that happens in my life on Facebook or anywhere else. Frankly, it’s boring, and it sucks me into the “glass half empty” mindset which is my genetic propensity.
It’s funny, though…we all know from our own experiences that the universe seems to love to push buttons. Sometimes I feel like I have a six-year-old poking me over and over again in the arm trying to see if he can get me mad. Wait a minnuuutteee! I do have a six-year-old that does that—AND a three-year old too. But seriously, you know those times where nothing goes right, everything breaks, the bank account’s drained, and you feel like God has a magnifying glass over you with the sun beating down, just waiting for you to explode. These are always such great times. I tried the whole “use a mantra to change your thought process”—like that book “The Secret.” The difference was that I could say positive things, but if that little voice inside me whispered “Yeah right…” it didn’t change me or my outcomes. I had to figure out a way to speak to myself that was believable or be willing to be wrong in everything I thought I knew. If I believed that certain behaviors in certain situations guaranteed only one specific outcome, I had to also believe that anything was possible—even outcomes that weren’t formulaic. It started to work. I told the Big Guy that I was willing to be wrong whenever I prayed for an outcome that I desired, but felt suspiciously negative about the possibility of it. By being willing not to have all the answers and only believing in what I can see, it changed the cycle of always giving me my own fears as the outcome to a situation.
I have to talk to myself every time something happens that I didn’t consciously choose and find undesirable. This is where the game comes in. Do I react the same way I always have? Like a victim where the power is outside of me? Yes, yes I do for a minute…maybe a day or two, but then I try to take a close look at myself and what it is that I think I needed from the situation that attracted it to me. Is there something that I need to experience? Is it as simple as keeping my cool in a stressful situation and looking for the positive, doing the best I can to stay that way, and then having the faith that a way to resolve it will present itself? That seems to be the case, and it hasn’t failed me, albeit the Universe and I don’t always live on the same timeline…so there’s just some more frustration to quell.
The game (in my epiphany) is to make life work for me! What can I squeeze out of this precious existence to make it as fun and beautiful as it can possibly be? The “game” for me is to find humor in everything—the mundane, the sad, the frustrating, the frightening. I feel like this approach is the life raft to keep me from feeling victimized by my circumstances. It seems like a novel way to approach life’s situations in hopes of staying positive, compassionate and abundant. The game is to practice gratitude by not getting sucked into life’s dramas. Wish me luck—I mean grace!