What time is it?

by Sam on April 26, 2011

This message first went out as an email at 4AM ET on April 27, 2011. But it could signal a return to an earlier time if it triggers memories of confinement by your past. Not a good thing!

Only when we stop wishing for a better yesterday will we start experiencing the complete joy of today. Only when we release the past and refuse to let it darken the present can we plan for a better future that’s aligned with the purpose for our life.

So, what might have gone before you that could be holding you back from your fullest potential? Consider six possibilities. Might one or more of them imprison you? And do the suggestions offered help to release you?

1. Missed an opportunity. Do you repeatedly yearn for a second chance at a missed opportunity? (“I should have begun saving toward my retirement years before I did.” “Why didn’t I go to graduate school?” “I should have taken advantage of help offered by my friend.” “I wanted to buy gold when it was only $300 an ounce.” “I wish I could dial back the clock so I could do what would have been better to do.”) Suggestion: It’s been said that every time God closes a door He opens another. Recognize the second opportunity that was unveiled when you blew the first one and seize it.

2. Unforgivable mistake. You’re here when you keep beating yourself up for a mistake or for hurting others, even long after they may have forgiven you. (“I can’t believe I made that bad investment!” “Why didn‘t I drive more carefully on that icy street?” “I should have never gotten started on cigarettes.” “Oh, I wish I hadn’t said that to her. Why wasn’t I more thoughtful? I’m such a pig!”) Suggestion: Never turn away from your mistakes until you have learned from them and have determined not to repeat them. But neither allow them to drag you down. Forgive yourself, certainly once others do.

3. This is who I am. Are you convinced that you’re an unimprovable product of your upbringing or your DNA—your nurture or your nature? (“This is me, and people will have to deal with my behavior in situations like that.” “They have to accept who I am. I can’t change at this age.”) Suggestion: This condition reminds me of the quip that there are two kinds of people in the world—those who die in their 90’s and those who die in their 30’s and keep breathing for 60 years. The people in your life almost certainly love you the way you are, but they just as certainly love you too much to want you to stay that way.

4. Grudge holder. This is your station in life if you can’t forgive someone else for what he or she has done to you or to others. You hang on to resentment. (“One of these days I’ll get back at him for what he did to me.” “I’ll never speak to her again.” “He’s about to get a rude awakening!” “I don’t get mad, I just get even.”) Suggestion: Holding a grudge is akin to taking poison hoping the other person dies. When you forgive others you take the antidote. You lift a burden from yourself thus freeing yourself to be all you can be for yourself and for others.

5. Disappointed. Do you have a hard time getting over an outcome that wasn’t what you had hoped for? (“If only the economy hadn’t turned down when it did.” “Why wasn’t I given that promotion?” “It would have been so much better if it hadn’t rained yesterday.” “If only I hadn’t been sick I could have gotten much more work done.”) Suggestion: Recognize that there is opportunity in every adversity. This is true because every adversity, by definition, represents a change in the status quo. And change always presents new potential. In other words, every bad thing ultimately has the prospect of working for your good with the help of patience and faith.

6. An idealized past. If you fantasize a return to earlier times, this is you. (“Those were the good old days.” “My best years were in high school.” “That was the best time of my life—oh, how I wish I could return to it.”) Suggestion: This one recalls a philosophy shared with me by one of my earliest mentors. He said that the happiest people are those who when asked, “What is the best age you ever lived” will respond, “The age I am right now.” Help for answering this question rightly comes from inventorying everything good you have in life that wasn’t there at any time in your history. Also force yourself to admit what really wasn’t so good about “the good old days”.

It’s a new day!

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