Golfers have something called a mulligan. It lets the golfer take a shot over. Is there anyone of us who doesn't draw a quick breath just thinking about the value of a second chance, one that eliminates scoring a bad shot?
Actually, the joy of having another chance to improve anything is exhilarating. That's what all the fuss is about every January when most of us take a look at what is not wonderful about ourselves and determine to reform, improve, succeed. Just thinking about the possibilities is invigorating.
Thinking about it just isn't enough, however.
I love the phrase "If not now, when?" Take weight, evidently always one of the biggest problems and obviously so these days. What is our number? What number on the scale would be too much, finally? Or smoking. How many packs a day would stop us in our tracks while we could still live? How much is too much - of anything?
I really do think we should ask ourselves that question. Why wait? If the scale says 200 and that is okay, picture it reading 300- 400... I do believe we need to contemplate what we find absolutely intolerable. It might move us to action, knowing gaining is the road we are on.
Who among us has not faced something unlovely about ourselves? I was a smoker at one time. Excessive. It is true that if we keep at giving it up we can succeed. It was even harder to quit smoking than it was to give up desserts three years ago. I'm not Barbie, but I'm a size I can live with as I keep celebrating every ounce that goes away permanently.
I've discovered other things in me that need improving and they were less obvious to me (and only to me) than the external, obvious physical habits that needed to change. It can be exhausting to become aware of flaws that beg for attention. None of us want to think we are less than perfect. The reality, however, is that too few of us are flawless.
Maybe we should all make two lists. One can be the things we have succeeded in; the other, things that await improvement. For instance, I do not hold a grudge. My early religious upbringing taught me about forgiveness and I treasure the feeling of both being forgiven and being forgiving. I think we need to hold on to an awareness of our better selves just as fervently as we acknowledge our least lovely attributes. Success does breed success.
Concentrating exclusively on either successes or failures is not healthy. Balance is important. When we recognize what we have done well, we can believe in our own ability to make more changes. Let's never waste a mulligan.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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