New Years Resolution: If Only…

If there is one thing I want to be more conscious of this year, it is the ‘If Only’s. You know – those things we blame for whatever we don’t like about our lives.

If only I was thinner or younger or my back wasn’t bad. If only I had more time, more money. If only I had everything I think I should have.

The ‘If Only’s (aka blame) suggest that our happiness and peace of mind are blocked by forces outside ourselves. Something somewhere is standing between me and the bliss I deserve.

But here’s what I’ve learned: The ‘If Only’s blind us to the power we have over our own joy, our own peace of mind – the power we have over our own bliss. While we may think it feels good to blame our finances or an ex-lover or the powers that be for our dissatisfaction, the truth is we have just given that person or entity control over that piece of our lives.

Lest you think we only do this as individuals, community organizations are often pros at the ‘If Only’s – blaming, playing the victim. And that means they, too, are blinded to the immense power they would otherwise have, with which to make things better.

If only the government hadn’t reduced our funding. (Translation: We have allowed ourselves to become completely dependent upon the government, and have not learned to take control of our own mission and our own destiny.)

If only our board was more on the ball. (Translation: Whatever it is, it can’t be our fault – it must be the board’s fault. And there is simply nothing we can do about it!)

We all know individuals who are chronically ill, who seem to lead more joyful, rich, gratifying lives than anyone we know. I hate to sound trite, but the old adage applies – it is not what happens to us in our lives, it is what we do with what happens to us.

So this year, I resolve to be more conscious of my own ‘If Only’s. I resolve to see the power I bring to each of my own obstacles. I resolve to see more clearly just how much of what is standing in my way is really just me.

Graphic courtesy of stock.xchng

5 Responses to New Years Resolution: If Only…

  1. Hello
    I just sent you an email. Not to worry I’ve sort of answered my own requests, hence here I am.

    Those “if only’s…” they are the same as the “I can’t’s…”, meaning of course that that outside agency has stamped its authority upon us again, stopping us dead in our tracks. “I can’t…” is an absolute statement, one that we use to remove our own control from ourselves.

    What strange things our brains are; We, being unhappy in our condition, convince ourselves that we cannot change things, and then, having accepted this entirely fabricated logic, spend the rest of the time complaining… and, being unhappy in our condition. I wonder where that loop began?


  2. Welcome, Ray!
    We humans sure are complex and contradictory creatures, aren’t we? I find it always fascinating. Thanks for raising the question. Why do we do what we do? Hmmm…

  3. I began with a comment that incorporated a person’s pesonal environment, the 70s ‘me’ generation, etc by way of reasons or excuses; but what it all comes down to is we spend too much time thinking about ourselves when we should be thinking about others. What matters is honesty and selflessness in every relationship we have. Once you see another human being succeed or even improve because of something you’ve said or done – you will feel better. Once you capture that feeling, the next step to self-help is an easy one – and made easier by the people around you who’ve benefitted from your help and who will want to return the favour.

  4. This is one of my favorite quotes and I was reminded of it from Karens posting.

    From E.W. Emerson
    “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intellegent people and the affection of children. to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”

  5. Karen and Eric:
    Yes and yes! Thank you both for your comments. They are wonderful as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US!