Americans are angry. We shout at each other on talk radio, from our cars, at political rallies, on cable news and on reality TV -- and, unfortunately, sometimes at home. Perhaps it is our difficult lives, filled as they are with the demands of our job (or the need to find one) and our responsibilities at home, work, community or church. Perhaps it is our stress-filled days and the pressure of making ends meet. Perhaps it is the environment that washes over us, a seeming tsunami of world tragedies blasted across our consciousness, random accidents and killings closer to home and the recognition of our lost opportunities, since so much that means so little consumes our lives. Perhaps it is the difficulty of finding, forming and maintaining loving relationships that might help us weather the storms that pelt us as the price of living. Perhaps it is just that each day seems, at its end, to find us no closer to the peace of mind we had for that brief instant when our slumbering eyes opened on the day.
After all, what does each day bring? A hot shower at the start, briefer than we wish because we are in a hurry; a quick hug to those we love before setting out, with the perfunctory "Have a nice day" that seems so routine that minutes later, no one remembers that we said it; what we call "breakfast" -- probably a Starbucks grabbed after standing in line and gulped down during the morning commute; listening to satellite radio, maybe some old song whose words we half-remember as we try to sing along; meetings with colleagues -- good people whose skills we appreciate (even if we seldom tell them so) -- who we know not quite as well as we'd like, but who has the time?; lunch grabbed at the local mini-mall as we head out for another meeting; texts and emails to return from our boss, colleagues, customers, friends, kids, spouse or partner; phone calls for things that seem so small we wonder why we had to take time to deal with them -- remembering to pick up the laundry, takeout for dinner, milk at the store (whose friendly clerk we recall but whose name we've forgotten); a quick workout at the fitness center (because it's good for us).
Is it any wonder then that we seem short, sharp, easy to provoke. Is this the life we worked so hard to fashion for ourselves?
Now imagine. What if you knew it was the last shower you would ever take, the last hug you would have, the last time you would tell those you loved to "Have a nice day"? What if you knew the Starbucks you just grabbed was the last one that would warm your palate, if the old song was the last time you would ever hear its notes and words pass over you? What if your meeting was the last one you would have -- and that you would never have another chance to tell each person what their work and friendship mean to you? What if your chain-store sandwich was your last meal, if all those texts and emails and cell phone calls were the last time you would see the funny shorthand spellings or hear the voices of those whose words and sounds you had so often tuned out because you were so busy? What if your workout was your last one, the last time you would feel your heart pump and know how truly alive you still were?
Living is choosing. Next time you face life's pressures and pains, choose to savor something in each of those moments. Our lives are lived in each one, not just by putting up with them as the inevitable price we pay for a vacation where we are convinced we can finally "be ourselves." If we can do this, we may find each day creates less anger and more joy. If we can do this we may find ourselves living the full life that our anger denies us.
For more by Terry Newell, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.