Ever since beginning this blog last week, I have awakened each day with the thought of writing on my mind, and I get frustrated when a topic just isn’t there. It wasn’t very long ago I told someone else that I would write again when both the urge and a topic collided simultaneously and the words flowed independently onto the screen, yet that sentiment was quickly forgotten to me and there I was, once again trying to force that which needs to happen on its own.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the story of my life and the dominant force behind my own stress and frustration on a daily basis. Indeed, I have major issues with control.
“You can not always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.”
I know that every single word of the above quote is absolutely true, yet I have a very difficult time remembering it on a regular basis. Upon reading the last blog, a dear friend said, “you are very philosophical.” Without a thought, I replied, “I stay stuck in my head.” In other words, I worry too much about things over which I have absolutely no control. I am a control freak to the nth degree – my classroom has to be organized in a particular way, my lesson plans have to be completed in such a way that I create way too much work for myself, I plan events and get-togethers down to the smallest detail fully knowing they won’t quite work out as planned. All of these are things I can, for the most part, control, so I don’t worry about them too much. It is those things I know I cannot control that consume my mind, often to the point of distraction.
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”
I know the above quote to also be true. I set one overall resolution for myself this year, and accepting the above quote as true is a big part of bringing that resolution to fruition. Instead of trying to control that which is outside my reach, I must learn to control my mind. To find happiness and contentment with today, I must stop trying to change the course of tomorrow, especially when no one has any way of knowing what tomorrow has in store. I know this, but can I live this? I can admit to myself that I don’t have control, but can I convince myself that I can’t wrestle control from life itself?
“It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there's nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.”
And herein lies the problem: worrying about that which I cannot control takes my time, energy, and focus away from those things I can change, those things I can control, and away from being happy today, now, in this moment. I am immobilized. Instead of being productive yesterday, I spent the entire day on autopilot while my brain ached with worries about things beyond my control, things that could happen tomorrow, next week, next month, even next year. Yeah, I was sick too so I wasn’t feeling very productive anyway, yet I let my mind rule the entire day and nothing was accomplished other than reminding myself that I had resolved to stop this nonsense once and for all. “The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.” The activity of worrying is keeping me from taking chances today, from jumping on opportunities that present themselves today because I fear what they will mean for me tomorrow, from being happy today because I fear unhappiness is awaiting around the corner. I can’t continue to live like this, and a little over a year ago, I didn’t live like this. I need to find my way back to honoring today instead of fearing tomorrow.
I have to learn that the vast majority of life is made up of circumstances that I cannot control. I have to accept that I cannot change that which is as of yet unknown. I can no longer lose today in fear of tomorrow. Maybe this is why I enjoy my job so much – my kids force me to live in the moment, make me focus on the here and now. Indeed, in a classroom of three-year-olds you cannot anticipate what will happen in the next five minutes, much less tomorrow. My kids bring me into the here and now. Once again, I am left thinking that my little group of preschoolers teaches me way more than I will ever be able to teach them. So here’s to letting go, to happiness in this moment, to letting tomorrow bring what it will bring. I won’t pretend that I will never slip and once again get lost in my head as I attempt to control that which I fear is waiting for me, but it does mean I will make a more conscious effort to stay focused on today, and I will find contentment in being out of control.