I made two promises to people yesterday and they weren’t tiny. They were big, really. If Brady Hoke had promised a UofM win against Ohio State this year, that would have been minuscule in light of the promise I made. I promised two people a better life with more happiness than they could currently comprehend. I made the same promise that was made to me more than twenty years ago now.
I was receiving my nine-month coin (I thought it was my sixth but I was mistaken, it was nine – I was still a bit flaky at six months), a coin given to signify nine months of continuous sobriety, given me by a man I had great respect for. During the presentation, in front of a whole room full of recovering alcoholics, he promised me that if I just kept coming back and worked a few simple steps to the best of my ability, my life would become so good that I would think it couldn’t possibly get any better… And if I just kept coming back and working, I would come to realize it had. It’s come to pass so many times that I can’t even recall all of the times I looked back at how good my life had become and thought it just couldn’t get any better, and it did.
2014 was an incredible year for me. It started out slow, coming out of our worst winter in recorded history but the last nine months were simply incredible.
I am at that most excellent spot in life again… but this year is better. This year I can see that my life can get better. I know it can, because it has so many times before. All I have to do is work a handful of simple steps, do the next right thing at any given moment and just make sure my eyes are open to see it.
There are a few prerequisites that come with this optimism though.
I don’t know what form “better” will take. I surely know what I think better will look like, I have a pretty good idea of what I want better to look like but the trick to this, at least for me, is that I have to seek only to do God’s will for me and let the details work themselves out in the wash. If I get too caught up in trying to manage every little detail I’ll trade happiness for misery. It’s a big picture/little picture outlook that I’m after. If I concentrate on being the best person I can, all will be well. If I concentrate on managing everything so every little detail “goes my way”, put a fork in me because I’m done.
Here’s the down and dirty: I am limited in my understanding of just what “good” looks like. If I try to manipulate every little detail to an end that satisfies my current “vision” of what I think I happiness should be, I’ll end up short of the greatness I can truly achieve because of the limits of my own understanding. This is where faith comes into play. When I try to micro-manage my happiness I get caught up in jumping hurdles and looking for the next hurdle instead of enjoying the journey. Life lived looking for hurdles to jump, enjoying the journey is actually quite impossible because I’m always looking for obstacles. How many times have we heard the quote repeated, “I can’t solve tomorrow’s problems with today’s thinking”? The same principle applies – I can’t understand tomorrow’s happiness with today’s thinking.
Today I have an amazingly simple balance and it is all based on one simple principle, one easy notion: Do the next right thing, at any given moment.
The next right thing may be “go for a ride on my bike”, it may be, “work on a new proposal” (for work), it may be “love my wife” or take my daughters to swimming or take my sponsee out to dinner to talk about how he’s doing and help him to better understand what his “next right thing” is… Sometimes it’s “take a nap”. At any given moment of any given day, there is a right thing to do. All I have to do is that.
Today, at 6:50 am on a Wednesday morning it was “write a post about the promise that was made to me decades ago and how it was fulfilled”. Two hours ago it was “quote a job for work”… After I publish this it’ll be, “write the proposal for that quote” and then, maybe, curl up with my wife for a little bit and let her know that I love her dearly. I don’t know what’ll be after that but I can promise you this: Whatever “it” is, it’s only hill and I’m a mountain climber.
May we all do the next right thing, at any given moment so that we can come to understand exactly how good “good” can be. Happy New Year. I can’t wait! Well, technically I can but you get the big picture.