One of my favorite holiday films is the timeless classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.
In the opening scene people all over the bucolic town of Bedford Falls are praying. Their pleas to God are for the benefit of the well loved man, George Bailey. As the chorus of voices drifts upward they are replaced with the booming voices coming from the constellations of stars…
Even as a child this heavenly conference between God, his Angel-Assistant and the Angel-Hopeful, Clarence, was one of my favorites scenes.
Clarence: You sent for me sir?
God: Yes Clarence, a man down on earth needs our help.
Clarence: Splendid! Is he sick?
God: No. Worse — He is discouraged —
He is discouraged. Think about that. How often in life do we trip over something that discourages us.
Last night as I was looking back over my shoulder at the day I began to feel a bit discouraged. And as I reached to turn out the light I had a sinking feeling that somehow I was at risk of slipping into what I have long referred to as — “my old wooly ways.”
And in the stillness, waiting for sleep to pull me in, the internal chatter began to ramp up.
See that? You never stick to an exercise routine…”
Oh no, you don’t.
I flipped on the light and wrote down the following message…
While I was at the gym this morning I thought of a blog post that I wrote at the beginning of 2011, A Decade of Achieved Harmony. It occurred to me that feelings of discouragement can lead to the harboring of negative messages inside my head. And those are anything but harmonic.
When I got home I attended to a few things that had to get marked off the list. Then, in the quiet of the kitchen, I sat down and re-read that old post. So much of it still resonated with me. That was a good feeling. From there I decided to make a quick reference — something I could pin above my office desk — a reminder of my commitment to achieving harmony this decade.
So with modifications here it is…
Approach each day with a grateful heart:
- I am grateful for; A loving marriage, healthy engaged children, and a sweet dog. Extended family. Safety. A body that moves and is disease free. Friends near and far. A home that provides a sanctuary of sorts. Freedom to express myself. Work that has meaning, purpose and brings me joy.
- Make time to sleep under a starlit sky. Be still enough to hear the call of birds. Be awake when the sun breaks across the horizon. Walk the beaches. Go barefoot. Find more dirt under the soles.
- Nourish body and soul by design—
- The body—Smile. Move. Exercise. Laugh. Dance. Sing. Stretch. Meditate. Play. Do things that build physical strength. Eat clean.
- The soul—Choose your thoughts. Seek out individuals vested in making a difference. Be involved. Do things that help. Read. Learn. Listen. Attract people who are committed to living an examined life.
- Have an attitude that–if you were contagious–you’d be worth catching.
- Read. Volunteer. Be generous. Cultivate and grow the spirit of abundance—lift up others and celebrate what they offer. Take risks. Use your voice. Be brave with your life.
- Now is what you have. Allow the moments to unfold. Your time here is a gift. Cherish the all of it. Notice.
I have plenty of days where my mind is at peace, but when old ways of being try to creep in and usurp me, I need to grab onto tools that I know will help me remember how wonderful life really is — visual queues help.
What about you, what do you do when you feel discouraged?
Carol Cassara says
Those movies that belong to that era really were heartwarming and inspirational.
Ruth Curran says
I am definitely going to write out the Truth and Lie lists next time agitation creeps in when I close my eyes!!!! That is an amazing strategy Elin! I love reworked post. Maybe it was because I could hear your voice as I read – assuring, supporting, expressing so much gratitude….
Glad it was helpful to you, Ruth! Thank you!
Cathy Chester says
Of course I love this post because I love all of your posts. But since I know “It’s A Wonderful Life” by heart (why do I need to watch it again?) I also remember that line about George being discouraged.
Late at night my mind races around of things I need to do, promises I make to myself. Then, in the light of day, most of it never happens.
I love your list, and what you promise to yourself. It’s a good reminder of being kind to ourselves, making small steps to achieve what we want in life, and how blessed we are to be able to do both.
I love what you said Cathy, thank you, it is a blessing to be able to do both.
Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs says
Old movies are pure magic. As is getting outside and MOVING. I’ve been stuck indoors for days on end, due to frigid temps, and it’s making me absolutely nuts. I actually relished my moments outside cleaning the darn cat boxes this morning. THAT is proof of how badly I needed some light and fresh air.
You are funny. And I agree, the old movies are the best. Hope the warmth comes back a little bit for you.
Carpool Goddess says
Going for a long walk outside does wonders for my mood. So, usually that’s where I start. I try to not be so hard on myself. Easier said than done! That internal dialogue is worse than what anyone could or would ever say to us. The older I get the more I understand about cutting my self some slack. Also, I search for things to make me laugh, which is probably why I’m so drawn to comedy in all it’s forms.
Cutting yourself slack–so important! I feel as if I have written a million post on internal dialogue, the good news is there has been some progress. Thanks for sharing what works for you Linda. 🙂
I love “It’s a Wonderful Life” just for the message your addressing. Day after day we have our dreams and plans and day after day we accomplish little things, but face our share of set backs too. When we look back over life, hopefully we can see how we did make a difference in the lives of others. It might sound hokey, but I think it resonates with us because there is a deep truth in it. And like you said. When I find the blues setting in, I count those blessings – large and small.
Not hokey at all. And if it is? the I guess I like hokey! Thanks Jamie.
Helene Cohen Bludman says
You inspire me with your beautiful writing and also your determination to get fit. I wish some of that would rub off on me.
Thank you Helene. You inspire me for all the incredible work you have done this month on your book! As for the exercise? Baby steps, right? It all adds up. 🙂
Mary Lanzavecchia says
I love this post because:
1. You wrote it and you have yet to write anything I don’t genuinely love and stash in my heart.
2. Fabulous tip, Truth and Lie List–pure genius!
3. You made me think about Clarence tonight and God and hope.
Thank you so much Mary. I’m glad it was helpful.
Lois Alter Mark says
It’s a wonderful life – and this is a wonderful post. In fact, I think I may have to print it out to remind me of every beautiful, true, important thought you wrote so eloquently here. I’m going to be sad when NaBloPoMo is over if I can’t read your posts every day. xo
Thank you, Lois, glad you liked it. As for Nablopomo…it’s kind of inspired me to keep pecking at it. No promises about daily…but better than 1/4ly! haha. I have you to thank for lassoing me into it — again!
what do I do when I feel discouraged? Great question! I suppose my answer would be that I push through. I have no choice. And then, it’s funny, but I’m less discouraged — because I powered through it. It’s not magic, really. It just is. 🙂
Power through it, good advice! And you’re right, it just is. 🙂
Tricia Foster says
Ok this will sound crazy, but I am learning to embrace, accept, and even be grateful for my “cranky” pessimistic self. In some Celtic traditions, the trinity is expressed as the child, the maiden, and the hag. To be complete, you have to accept all three and get them to work together instead of fighting against each other. I think the exercise you did is a great example of acknowledging the hags concerns and coming to peace with her. Let’s face it, when we break a promise to ourselves, there is a part of us that is going to feel betrayed and act out. That part deserves just as much mercy as we would extend to anyone else.
Great points! Thank you so much for your perspective, Tricia!
That “truth and lies” exercise is pure gold! I’m going to do that the next time I start badgering myself. (which will probably be in the next twenty minutes or so or perhaps in the morning)
And this quote: “. . .allow the moments to unfold. . .” will be making an appearance on my blog in a few weeks.
Thanks Laura, glad it was helpful and I can’t wait to see your blog post!
Rena McDaniel says
It would be very easy for me to get discouraged in taking care of my mom day in and day out. I watch her fade away before my very eyes every afternoon. Same time, same place and everyday I try something different to try to change it with no clear results. I am determined though to keep a positive out look and that includes giving myself pep talks, getting outside for some fresh air (even though we are freezing our butts off in SC these days). The days are long and hard. Then she will tell me a story or give me a smile or say something funny. That is when I realize that I wouldn’t trade this job for anything in the world!
Such a great perspective, Rena. Watching someone you love “fade away before your eyes,” is so challenging, add that you provide all the care… I love that you find strength through her stories, a smile, or something funny that your mother shares. Thank you so much for sharing.