This Week in Intentional Living (February 5th)

Understand what you have.

A couple of weeks ago we were making a grocery list and I was sure we needed brown sugar. My Lovely Wife said she didn’t think we did, but I was adamant. Brown sugar is important, because it goes on my oatmeal on Saturdays and Sundays, and if you’ve been reading this blog for long you know how highly I value my weekend oatmeal.

So we bought the brown sugar, and lo and behold, when we put the groceries away, sure enough, there was a half-pound of the stuff sitting right there in the cupboard.

I wanted that brown sugar. I could already taste it topping-off my oatmeal.

We didn’t need brown sugar. We had many weeks’ supply left.

It’s surprising how often what I need is already right there in the kitchen cupboard, just waiting for me to go look for it.

We – as a culture – are convinced that what we need isn’t here, it’s somewhere else, somewhere other than where we are. We need a better job, better grades, newer clothes, leather seats, a bigger screen.

And the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right?

Wrong, of course. The guy on the other side of the fence thinks my grass is greener than his.

Sometimes, we really do need something bigger, faster … greener. But generally speaking, what we actually need is to understand what we already have.

Yes, I know there are those among us who do need more. And I’m by no means advocating slowing down your progress and settling for less than you can be. I’m just saying slow down (maybe even breathe) long enough to understand what you have.

This isn’t about cleaning out your closet and making a list of your stuff. Although that’s not a bad idea. No, I mean instead of worrying about what’s not working in your life and all the things you don’t have, take time to look at what’s going right for you. The things you’ve already accomplished. The people who already love you the way you are today.

Start with that last bit. Who loves you? Probably more people than you think. Right now, chances are you are the center of somebody’s world (besides your own). Stop and think about that. Sure, it’s a lot of responsibility, but isn’t it nice to know you’re loved?

And for every one of those people, there are many more who want the best for you, who want a better life for you. Maybe it’s time to give those people some credit for their love and support instead of worrying about gaining the love and respect of people who aren’t already on your side.

And what have you done that you can hang your hat on? Don’t tell me nothing. There’s something on your permanent record you can point to. Maybe it’s something as simple as a diploma hanging on the wall of your office. Do you know how small a percentage of the world hsa that degree? For that matter, do you know how many people would give everything for an office? Or even a wall?

It’s easy to take achievements for granted once you’ve achieved them. Finishing college was a big deal … while I was doing it. And then it was just something I did a while back. Of course, I never consider how big a deal it is to people who started and didn’t finish or who never had the chance to get started at all.

Do you have kids? You know what? Every day you help them move closer to responsible adulthood is an achievement. A day might slip right past you, but you achieved something that day if you helped your child grow.

Maybe you tended your garden, cut your grass, raked leaves. That took effort, and that effort helps your garden or your lawn grow and develop. You can be proud of that.

Something is going right in your life. It might not be the thing you most want to be going right, but if you take time to be honest with yourself something is working out for you.

You have something. Probably a whole list of somethings. And understanding that you have those achievements, and that love, on your side is a big step in preparing you for what comes next. When you know and can prove to yourself that you’re able to achieve, to be loved … to grow your own green, green grass … convincing yourself that you can do more is a lot less hard.

You might find that once you truly understand what you already have, you don’t need all the things you thought you needed.

Trust me. There’s some brown sugar hiding in your cupboard already. Look behind the peanut butter.


One response to this post.

  1. I love this one! It reminds me of a novel I just finished, that perhaps you might like: Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo–it’s funny but rings true!


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