But that doesn't mean I didn't stumble in the process.
The fact that we are given countless opportunities for growth and progress doesn't mean that we seize each of them. If we did, we'd be perfect, and none of us is. Rather, we must do the best we can, come to a logical understanding of what we could have done better, and forgive ourselves for those missed opportunities and imperfections. It's the only way to be fully human: to strive, acknowledge and accept. It's a liberating, healing and exciting process: becoming our best selves and creating our own happiness.
But it can be nothing short of exhausting on occasion, catching curveball after curveball while still putting forth maximum effort. Sometimes we would like things to be just a teensy weensy bit easier. Sometimes we wish we could just sit in the dugout for a few innings and let someone else do the hard work while we rest a bit. Sometimes we want to run home and quit playing baseball altogether. It would, we tell ourselves, be easier. And perhaps that's true. But running away isn't always feasible. And it certainly isn't always rewarding. So, we have to find within us the motivation to get back out on the field or to get up to bat after we've struck out again and again. And on those days where we don't have it in us and scream "I quit!" to everyone within earshot, we must be prepared to deal with the short- and long-term consequences.
Last night I'd had one of those days. I felt defeated, angry and anxious. I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. Pack up my bats and my glove and go home, all the while bemoan the fact that I am a victim of injustice -- that life's not fair; what did I do to deserve this?; and, why didn't I move to the Caribbean the last time I felt like this?
But then I had dinner with a new friend. It was an opportunity to laugh, to learn and to relax with someone who doesn't yet know my baggage. This innocent bliss is not something that can last for long (alas, that would be denial, not a diversion!), but it was glorious: to talk about books, movies and music; to smile; to intently listen; to feel hopeful again. And it struck me: this person seems truly happy -- not just outwardly but inwardly. I found it infectious. And so I asked him about it. And this is how he responded: "Well, I mean, ultimately you have to decide whether or not you want to be happy. Sure, things happen that are frustrating, irritating or downright maddening. But there's nothing you can do about that. The only thing you can do is decide whether to let it control you, and I just don't see the point in that. So, yes -- I guess I'm basically a happy person."
I was stunned. Humbled. Sitting there in wonder and awe. So I asked, "Have you ever read a book called This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson?" No, he said, he hadn't. "Well," I told him, "There's really no need. You just described her thesis."
So that was reminder #6: be humble and grateful, and take stock and give thanks, because someone else has already learned the power of this, and it was so profound you noticed.
As always, feel free to leave your own reminders in the comments section.