We think of ourselves as very modern souls devoid of superstitions and yet some of us still enjoy playing silly games online that claim to give us insights into ourselves. Thus it was that I took the bait and tapped a few keys to supposedly find out what my bywords for 2023 will be. I had to gaze at a hodgepodge of letters and quickly find the first four words that became apparent. With my slight dyslexia and difficulty seeing well on a computer screen it took me more time than it should have to finally notice the words, strength, alignment, lessons and money, in that order.
Of course the list of possible words encased in the randomly placed letters were undoubtedly so generic that they might apply to anyone who managed to find them, so it was not surprising to me that they somehow resonated with me. It was no doubt pure luck rather than some incredible dive into my mind that led my eyes to the four words that I eventually found. Looking at them I also realized that each of us might interpret their personal meaning in different ways.
Like most people my life has been a serious of ups and downs, victories and challenges, happy times and sorrowful ones. I learned how to take each day one step at a time long ago. That is not to imply that I’m always optimistic, determined and calm, but that I eventually find my way back to a resigned determination to simply keep moving forward in spite of the roadblocks that have come my way. The truth is that it is rare for success and happiness to come easily for any of us.
If I have learned one lesson it is that every single one of us struggles at some times in our lives. It is quite rare to sail through a day, a week, a month, a year without difficulties taunting us, making things difficult for us. From small annoyances to life changing tragedies we are constantly challenged to find the strength to use our talents, our skills, or beliefs to be our better selves. It is virtually impossible to avoid difficulties in our lives even if we try to isolate ourselves from realities that threaten our happiness.
Life is hard work and as adults we would do well to teach this important lesson to our children. We may see individuals who appear to have had an easy time learning, succeeding, finding the key to happiness and bounty, but if we take the time to study them we almost always find that they have quietly put forth great effort while others only dreamed and talked about improving their situations.
I’ve often said that happiness is not a mirage or an attempt to run away from sorrow. It is a state of mind that comes from facing our problems head on and understanding how to find joy in small things. If our optimism depends on extravagances outside of our hearts and minds we will struggle to love ourselves and the people around us. Happiness is simple and yet we make it so complex.
I have found a kind of alignment to guide me for most of my life. I would be a liar if I were to claim that I am always beholden to the advice that I give others. Like anyone I sometimes fall apart from the pressures of life. I feel sorry for myself, worry incessantly, complain that I am somehow more beset upon than others. I allow myself to wallow in self pity for a time, but then I face my difficulties and step by step get back in the game. I force myself to do small tasks, then bigger ones, to use my mind to consider solutions to my dilemmas and then to try them. I try to be open and honest with myself and with people that I trust. I arrange to be around people, outside of myself, attempting to focus more on helping others than obsessing about my own woes. It’s not as noble as it may sound, but it is a way for pulling myself out of the doldrums that plague me now and again.
Who would not enjoy having more money? It would seemingly erase many of the worries that we have. I try to think of money with perspective. When I’m worried I try to remember that I am more fortunate than most of the population of the world. I think of how delighted the people starving for food and freedom would be if they had all of the luxuries that I take for granted. I realize that with only a few small sacrifices I might live much more frugally than I presently do. I really do not require more so I should be wishing that someone less fortunate might fine the gift of money this year, not me.
The lessons I have learned have helped me to align the trajectory of my life and have made me strong. I have enough money to be comfortable and free from hunger. Somehow the words strength, alignment, lessons and money are less important to me than the word gratitude. I don’t have to play a game to understand that being thankful for what I have should be my byword for 2023. I have been fortunate through all of my life. I do not need more.