Sunday, April 20, 2014

Things I Would Have Done Differently

“Don't count the days, make the days count.”

Muhammad Ali

“Sit in a room and read--and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”

Joseph CampbellThe Power of Myth

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”

Frances Ann LebowitzThe Fran Lebowitz Reader

The healing power of Purpose is one that I never expected when I began this.  Looking back on other times of my life, I see that the more purposeful times were richer and more rewarding.  I also see how I could have made them even better.  The following is not criticism, complaint or regret, but rather advice or guidelines for having and maintaining a more peaceful and more purposeful life.  So, if I were able to go back and relive some of those times, here’s what I would have done differently:
1.  I would have devoted more time to my Purpose, whatever it was at the time. 
This would have been so helpful.  Looking back on certain periods of my life, the ones that were really good, I know now that I could have made them better by managing my time better.  As well as I did, it never occurred to me that the solution for doing (and feeling) better was to put more time into my Purpose. 
Instead, I often found myself being needlessly distracted or involving myself in pointless dramas that would have eventually passed with or without me.  I should not have allowed certain situations into my life…or certain people.   What I should have been doing is spending more time in my Purpose.  I could have been more directly active, or indirectly active, through studying how to improve my work.    Every moment I should have been asking myself, “Is this the best use of my time?”
2.  I should have practiced the inverse of using my time well, by eliminating or reducing activities and situations that weren’t the best use of my time.  When we make a choice to do something, anything, we are making a choice to not do all other things at that moment.  I should have made more choices against things as well as for things.  This sounds negative, but sometimes “No” is the best word.  By not saying “No” to many other things, I was also saying “No” to my Purpose.  This allowed other events, and even other people, to decide my life for me.   The cost of this was more than I could bear, but I allowed it anyway.  Now I’m saying “No” more often.  It isn’t easy, but it makes life easier.
3.  As mentioned above, I should have spent more time developing my Purpose through study and training.  I should have had a mentor.  I should have read more.  No matter what the subject, no matter how naturally gifted I was at it, and no matter how well I think I knew it, I could always learn more.  In fact, that’s one of the most fascinating aspects of Purpose – the infinite ability to learn more and to go deeper.
As I said, a mentor can be of great help, but if I can’t get a mentor, there are thousands of mentors available in books.  Most books are the sum total of that author’s understanding and experience up to that time.  That doesn’t mean, however, earlier works aren’t extremely valuable.  In fact, in some cases, an author’s earlier works are better.  Either way, no author intentionally writes a bad book.   It doesn’t matter.  I should have just read more, and not just books.  There are magazines and newspapers.  Now there is also the Internet, which is an almost unlimited font of information.  Still, I prefer books.
4.  I would have been less self-absorbed.  I spent much of my life complaining, being negative and looking for help.  I realize now that these were attention-getting devices to keep me from being in my Purpose.  Granted, I was younger and didn’t understand Purpose or the Enemy.  A more positive view is that I was constantly moving towards self-healing; I just didn’t know that I was going about it in the completely worst way.  Had I been doing my work, I would have created much of my own healing.
As I said, none of this is meant as criticism, complaint, or regret.  The past cannot be changed, but it can be redeemed, by living differently in the present.  I was who I was and I knew what I knew.  Now I know differently.  More importantly, now I behave differently.  It is behavior, even more than knowledge, that creates wisdom, maturity and change in life.
It is helpful to look at what I would have done in the past and ask myself if I am doing these things now.  The answers are yes and no.  Yes, I am.  I can take pride in what I’ve accomplished.  No, I’m not.  I can do more.  Far more.  This is not an accusation, but an encouragement. 
Get Started and Keep Going.  That’s the best advice ever.