Today I started to make a “to-do” list, but not just any “to-do” list; I made the MOTHER of all “to-do” lists, the kind that lists everything in my brain from large marketing projects for my business to cleaning out the dryer lint filter.
I finished my list with a feeling of overwhelm, not that lovely “ah, I got some things out of my head and onto the page” type of relief that can certainly come with writing the “to-dos” of our lives down. In many ways, my list was self-punishing. A voice emerged that said, “Goodness Courtney, what a mess you’ve made” and “Look how you have not responded to these important emails in a timely manner” and “Lady, you need to get your act together.” In essence, I felt like I was doing everything wrong.
What is one to do in such a overwhelmed state? Well, I chose to pick up my tried and true copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step. I opened to his section called “What’s Not Wrong.” I knew this chapter would have something important to tell me. And it did. Hanh writes, “I enjoy breathing every day. But many people appreciate the joy of breathing only when they have asthma or a stuffed-up nose. We don’t need to wait until we have asthma to enjoy our breathing….Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.”
I read the chapter again and breathed. I took several deep breaths, actually.
In writing that super-duper list I forgot to be in the present moment with what was going right. I forgot to think about all of the things I have accomplished, all of the emails I have answered, all of the planning and organizing I have done. So I made a “to-do” list of a different sort. This time, I titled my list, “What’s Right: My Put-a-Fork-in-It List of Sparkles” and listed accomplishments, positive insights, tasks completed, and present moment appreciations. I also listed struggles, but I appreciated them, knowing that these challenges are part of my journey of growth.
What a difference a (different) list makes!
It’s list time. Write down everything that is not wrong in your life. What is right, good, positive, or enjoyable? Write what you appreciate. That’s the easy part. Now, focus on some struggles you are having. See if you can find a way to be thankful for these things, too. What do you have to be thankful for right this moment — whether these things are positive or challenging?