Sometimes I awaken worried. Perhaps I had a bad dream; perhaps my things to do list has gotten way too long and I don’t have enough time in my days. The more stressed I get, the less I accomplish. I become like a kitten chasing its tail. Isn’t that a silly image?
I don’t have a magic formula to solve it. We have all read the advice over and over: make a list; prioritize; get up earlier; don’t over-commit yourself; and be efficient. Yes all of these concepts can certainly help. Perhaps it is important to remember that getting things done is a lifelong process. It can be like paying off a lot of debt. No, you can’t do it all at once [unless you win the lottery]. But with your debts you can gradually pay off each bill a bit at a time in as committed a way as possible. Eventually you can pay it all down. Depending on how bad it is, it could take 10 years, 20 years or even more. Reminding yourself that you are making progress and even making a chart or graph of it can help you actually see your progress.
The same technique can be used for my things to do list. I have finally decided that if a particular part of the house, or pile of papers, or deadline is driving me crazy–then I will focus on that and try to address the problem. If I can get that done (or at least partway done) I will feel really good about that. Then, and here is the important part, I try not to beat myself up for the fact that I was unable to get every last item on my list done. Eventually I will get a lot done — and I need to believe that.
What does all of this have to do with optimism? Here it is: the messages you tell yourself impact your mood and self-image. This in turn, of course, affects how you see the world and how you interact with it.
Fear overwhelms me at times. My absolutely favorite Bible verse at those times is: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.” (Jerimiah 29: 11 – 15).
Having that strength of conviction of God’s love and protection lifts my heart, my soul, my spirit, my psyche. This in turn improves my approach to my marriage and to motherhood. Being a harsh and pessimistict judge of myself drags everyone down. Encouraging myself spills over into warmth and encouragement for my husband and son. So there you have it — Jeremiah and I are buddies today!
God is walking with me today — actually, I think God is skipping with me today. Perhaps we all need to skip a little bit each day—just for the fun of it!