Progress

12. ADVICE FROM THE GROUND FLOOR

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If you want to fast track a higher quality of life there’s a shortcut most will totally ignore.

STOP. BEING. LATE.

The habit of being late is the same thing as saying “My time is more valuable than yours.” As far as I’m concerned there’s no argument for this. If you go to the same place to work for years, and are late again for the four hundred and thirty-seventh time because traffic the sucks, I’ve got news for you pal, it’s NOT the traffic.

As far as the subject of self-help goes, it doesn’t get any more basic than this. Punctuality is in reality, rare. This is true because all of us instantly know those who are always prompt, and they do indeed stand out. The generalized identify of this trait is nothing more than showing up ahead of schedule. Few realize it also indicates a willingness to stay longer. There’s no doubt all of us want more time, but what good are a few extra minutes if they are not productive and peaceful? Why subject yourself to a lifestyle of constant rushing to get out the door when all one has to do is start earlier?

Early in my recovery I was clonked over the head repeatedly with this topic, and for good reason. The habit of tardiness is basically one of self-centeredness, and boy did I have buckets of ego. Along with the action, I also had a filing cabinet full of excuses to accompany my behavior. There were some pretty creative ones too. My personal favorite (at the time) was claiming I’d been pulled over by the cops for some minor infringement. I’d tell my inconvenienced audience that they were nice and let me go with just a warning. Not only was I lying about why I was late, I was attempting to generate sympathy for myself as well. Using lies like this to perpetuate my laziness turned my mind into a garbage dump. My collection of lies and pointless excuses eventually took up so much mental room, there was little left over for even the most basic of needs. It finally became clear the only thing I could be counted on to do was to be unreliable. I eventually turned this lifestyle around by realizing all that was required to change it was to walk away from it. No clean up was necessary, just abandonment.

When I came to the conclusion I had no need to drag the past into the present, it allowed me the freedom to move forward without attachment to previous behavior. Over the years I’ve practiced a lot of habits I’ve vowed never to repeat. These slips of character are not who I am; they exist only as memories to help me define what I am not. I did not want to be the last person to show up anymore, and I had plenty of examples to use as leverage to help me to change that. I left a broken lifestyle behind and went forth with a willingness to do what would be asked of me from those I had wronged through my sloth.

It’s just my opinion, but I think a lot of the world’s problems would disappear if everyone would just make a commitment to show up on time. Traffic would ease, health issues due to stress would lower, production would rise, and trust would increase; all because of one thing changing. It may be a fool’s wish, but I’m sure it’s one that can be clearly envisioned by most of us.

There are some habits I’ve developed that help to nurture a more reliable (and relaxing) lifestyle.

  1. When I wake up, I choose to get up. If the thought enters my mind that I would like to sleep some more, I replace it with, “Wake up.” When my mind hears a request from the conscious part, my sub-conscious part (which is still driving the bus)  responds and starts the chemistry that makes me want to get out of bed rather than stay there. Let’s face it, five more minutes, or even a little more, makes almost no difference on a complete night’s rest anyway.
  2. I do my best not to leave anything undone at the end of my duties that I don’t want to do upon returning. In other words, at the very least, I’ll give myself something to look forward to “not doing.”
  3. IF a delay really does come up, I will inform those waiting on me as soon as possible. If I tell someone ahead of time that my behavior is going to be disruptive, there will be no need to excuse it later, and that earns respect.
  4. Rest is a priority to the expenditure of energy. I try not to short-change myself in this area. It does seem that the older I get, the earlier I go to bed, and the earlier I rise– which automatically gives me what I need.

I do not follow these ideas as strictly as I would like. The only one I don’t break is the third one. Yes, I am still late on occasion. I am not without fault here, but I am much more aware of others who are waiting for me, and that has allowed a less-selfish approach to the day. It sounds simplistic, but the bottom line to curing a tardy life is nothing more than choosing to give yourself enough time.

It has been my experience that reliability equals abundance, and this was the first step I took that opened those floodgates. If nothing else, the more we are late, the more we miss out on life, and I for one don’t want to miss a thing.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

11. ELIMINATING REGRET

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In my post “What I Believe”, there is an affirmation that says “I believe in doing the most, what I’ll regret the least.” This philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the statement: “I believe regrets are grudges I hold against myself.” These two ideas are like bookends that keep the direction of my life organized, upright, and on purpose. My past has proven that the presence of regret equals an urge to manufacture excuses. Once I’ve done something I knew wasn’t supposed to, I’d feel compelled to justify why it happened, leading to a defensive posture. As soon as I’ve done something someone else knows I shouldn’t have, and they point it out, I’ve been known to take an offensive stand. Both times I’ve sought to excuse my behavior.

I live my life in two modes, action and reaction, or offensive and defensive. They have their place, but one should not be favored over the other. They compliment with strength and harmony when properly mixed. The people who do this skillfully lead well-adjusted lives. They are easy to pay attention to and quick to listen. A balanced approach attracts, while the unbalanced delivery repels.  No one likes those who are too defensive. Neither do they take kindly to those who are overly offensive. People who play the defender claim to be constantly victimized, and those who play the offender claim to be forever insulted. In either case neither person generates respect or trust from those around them. Each example must come up with constant excuses in order to continue their theatrics, or the behavior will not persist. I should know, I’ve visited the two sides with great frequency over the years.

If the erasure of regret equals the disappearance of excuses, then I say bring it on.  Without regret, I cannot own or operate being either patsy or aggressor. This does not mean I’m not opinionated or that I won’t stand up for what I believe that is right and good. What it does mean is that I’ll move forward with the attitude of doing the most what I’ll regret the least. When I find myself at an intersection, the only question that must be asked is, “what will I regret doing?”  I then avoid moving in those directions. As soon as I choose a lesser way, and create regret, then I begin to hold a grudge against my own actions. Those actions that we hold grudges against, we feel the need to punish. If I do the same to myself, then I’ll inevitably seek out some sort of punishment–mostly unaware I’m even doing it. This is a primary root of self-destructive behavior. ALL self-destructive behavior needs excuses to survive, so it stands to reason that it will consistently choose the lesser of two (or more) destinations in order to perpetuate its existence.

When I feel the impulse to defend, I do my best to use it by helping someone else, especially if they are not present. I’ve noticed people are more willing go into attack mode when there is no chance of retribution from the focus of  their argument. Rarely will I defend a personal agenda. If what’s being threatened is my safety, only then will I not hold back. On the other hand, I’m rarely offended. I’ve chosen a few items over the years I want changed, and these I’ll let offend me. Nothing gets better unless I become dissatisfied with how things are, so this attitude is useful when an action follows that’s designed to improve something. I never do anything that undermines someone else’s quality of life just so mine can get better. Looking at both actions, I will of course avoid doing anything that would lead to a regret.

I think all of us have had episodes of supreme confidence. When I’m in these moments I move forward without complaining or explaining. No excuses, just action. “Don’t complain, don’t explain” is a very famous and useful saying. It helps eliminate other people’s opinions, bad OR good, and keeps me focused on the task at hand. When the thoughts of others are eliminated, then there’s no need to argue (defend) or no need to listen (take a chance on being offended.) There are, of course some people in my life I want feedback from, but there are VERY few.

All I know is, I’m not going to be laying in my death-bed and allow the last words of my life begin with the line “It’s too bad I didn’t…..” A life lived without regret is one of the greatest freedoms we can seek. It’s absence serves to eliminate pain and helps to invite serenity.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood