Opinion :: Guest Opinion

RESOLUTION ’12 You Don’t Know Jack

by Glen Cunningham
Contributor
Thursday Jan 19, 2012
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Glen Cunningham
Owner of Sadhana Yoga

A few years ago, before we were married, my wife told me a story about riding in the car with her three children and her mom. I don’t recall where they were going or where they were coming from, but I remember that the mood was somewhat somber. My wife’s first marriage had recently ended in divorce, stirring up a lot of concern about how this was all going to affect the kids. Finances were depressing, and life in that moment just seemed...hard.

Change was in the air and there was no clear destination in view. It was one of those "not so good" feeling situations that, as adults, we tend to make just a little bit worse in our mind. I’m pretty sure that when Mark Twain said, "Some of the worst things in my life never even happened," he was consciously trying to help us snap out of our own funk, an attempt at dissuading us from confronting some unforeseen difficulty and doing a "mental cannonball" into the pool of worst-case scenarios.

It’s a plunge we seem to take far too often and far too easily, and this was no exception.

So there they were in the car, the kids being kids in the backseat and a heavy lack of conversation looming up front. At some point, they happened to drive by a house that my wife’s mom had always loved: a cute little farm house in southern New Hampshire, a lazy brook running through the back yard, a wrap-around porch and all the New England charm you could ever hope for.

Gazing out the window, my mother-in-law sighs and with the dissatisfaction of unfulfilled dreams in her voice she laments, "Oh kids, look at that house. Nana’s always loved that house. Wouldn’t it be nice if Nana could buy it and we could all live there together? We’d be so happy."

A few moments of awkward silence follow, as you might expect after such a loaded remark. Then Jack, seven-years old at the time, chimes in with innocent confusion, "But...we’re already happy." The car continues to roll down the road, another awkward silence, but this time my wife and her mom are left shaking their heads and grinning. Thank you Mark Twain...I mean, Jack...for the reality "Doink!" between the eyes. Lesson learned, once again, that life is not so bad.

How does this story relate to New Year’s resolutions and all that?

When it comes to changing our habits - doing less of the stuff that we wished we wouldn’t do, and doing more of the things that we imagine ourselves embracing - there’s a tendency to start off with a, "This is gonna be hard" mentality. Even the word resolution creates that kind of vibe: "This is going to take a lot of resolve! It ain’t gonna be easy!" It sets us up for the likelihood that this shift we’re trying to make is really just a cute little game that we’re probably going to fail at, but...let’s give it a go anyway! ’Tis the season, after all.

Why not start here instead:
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

The passage is from the Tao te Ching. Lao Tzu wrote it. It’s pretty; it’s a nice idea.

It’s also true. And that’s the thing - we forget to be content a lot. We begin our endeavors to create change by building a wall of hypothetical "what ifs" right in our way. "I want to make this change, I want to create this shift, but what if a, b and c happen and stop me?" Emotionally, we’re already swimming against the current before we even start.

So at this time of year when you’re gearing up to make some changes, when you’re mustering up all your resolve to really "get it done" this time, remember Mark Twain. Remember Lao Tzu. Remember Jack. There’s wisdom in their words. There’s a reminder in their sentiment. There’s truth in what they say.

There’s no wall of resistance blocking your way to make change. If there is...you’re creating it. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s not real. See through it and just move forward. Change isn’t a destination and it doesn’t have a strict timeline - the change that you seek is simply positive momentum, created one small step at a time, in the direction you intend to head. Now you can do that.

Sadhana Studios is location at 15 Worcester St. Visit their website at www.sadhanastudios.com.
* Lao Tzu quote taken from Stephen Mitchell’s translation the "Tao te Ching" (Chapter 44)

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