The First lesson of The Art of Being

me_on_the_laptopWe all think about our destiny, especially this time of year. We look back on our past year and then we look forward to the following year and make resolutions that within a few days we leave behind. One problem that we often have is that we are either reminiscing about the past or feeling guilty about the past or we are day-dreaming about the future.

It is no wonder that we believe that we simply are what we are, that life just happens. That somehow it all relates to luck and being born a certain way. It’s as Forest Gump’s mother said, “Life is a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll get.”

We can’t change the past, and there’s really nothing that we can do about the future. For the most part it is as she said. “you never know what you’ll get.”

We call that destiny and we feel powerless because change is not something that happens without effort. However, there is a concept called the butterfly effect. Basically it has to do with the idea that on small butterfly flapping its wings can change the weather all over the world. The concept suggests that a small change now can make a big difference later.

It’s as the old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now.”

As Forest Gump himself determined at the end of the movie, it’s not just destiny that determines our future, sometimes we also affect what happens.

It all reminds me of the serenity prayer which says:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Most of the time people associate this with the attitudes and actions of other people, but we can also us this saying as we look at our past. We cannot change our past, we can only reflect on it and learn from it, but we definitely cannot change it. Therefore, why is it that we beat ourselves up over it? We need to accept it and move on. It is easier said than done.

In addition, if we do the same thing today as we have always done, we will end up with a future that reflects on what we’re doing now. We cannot change the future, because we often continue doing as we’ve always done and expecting different results. Or if we do decide to make changes, we try to change everything all at once only to burn out as soon as we come against resistance to those chances. However, by making small changes today, by learning to be a little bit better at being who we are today, we can become a better person tomorrow.

We cannot change the past. It is the one thing that is set in stone. We cannot live in our future. It hasn’t happened yet.We can only live in the now. What I did in the past determines where I am today, and what I do today will determine where I will be in the future. The only real day I have is today. I was in the past.  I will be in the future, but I am being who I am today. I am writing this in the morning of the first Monday of the New Year. What happens the rest of the year will depends on what I do today. I can either let it slip away, or I can learn to be who I am today. Any goals I have for the future can only be done by being a person of action today. That is the first lesson that I have learned about the art of being.

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