The TV Psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw has noted a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So why do we keep doing Mondays?
About four weeks ago, I woke up and hit that wall that most of us know all too well: I’ve got to go back to that damned job.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve got a good enough job. The pay is keeping me afloat and the benefits are certainly adequate (a true blessing in today’s mangled economy), but that morning, like most the Monday mornings of my working life, I just didn’t want to have to go to “that place” again.
Fortunately, instead of falling into the pattern of buying into a low-grade resentment or giving in to the “Monday Morning Blahs,” I had the presence of mind to question it.
Frankly, I could finally see it was ridiculous to continue reliving this same emotional roller coaster I had been riding, basically, since a few years into elementary school.
Gratitude vs. the Entitlement Mentality, or, “Oh, Suck it Up You Spoiled Brat”
Sitting there waking up in my modest (read: cramped) home office, my first thought was about gratitude, or a grievous lack thereof.
Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am something of an advocate for establishing and maintaining a mindset of gratitude. So there I was, acting like a sulking little ingrate … and feeling like I was commiting a gratitude whale fail.
I could readily see the perversity of my feelings. It had not been all that long before that I was scrambling for a job — any job — at all, and here I was resenting what was, in reality, making it possible for my wife and me to survive.
It is painfully apparent to me that American society has undermined itself by engendering an almost pathological self-centeredness. The roots of this go back to the post-WW-II baby boom, of the plenty that surrounded the citizens of a nation becoming prosperous from an industrial base forged in the inferno of world war and retooled for peacetime Capitalism. An impressionable, coddled generation was raised expecting every problem could be resolved effortlessly, as Professor Morris Massey of the University of Colorado so astutely noted, in an hour with three commercial breaks.
If we thought the “Me Generation” was selfish, the following ones have raised this to an art form.
I was seeing (and I still see) this constantly in the workplace, people bitterly complaining about the most trivial issues in their jobs, somehow oblivious to what their lives would be like without them.
So I had to ask myself: am I doing this, too? I had hoped that, having spent as much time focusing on the power of gratitude that I would be “above” this.
(So much for being perfect, huh.)
Something Else, Something More
Though in all fairness to myself, there was something else in the mix, and I know I’m not alone in this.
Let’s think about the other end of the work week. Isn’t the reason we love Fridays so much (or whatever the last day of our work week is) is because despite whatever return we get from our jobs, we hate them and have a chance to get away from the accursed things for a while?
And why are they accursed things?
I think for most of us who aren’t satisfied by our jobs, we really don’t mind working. What we mind is that we are unfulfilled in our work. We hate our jobs because, at some level, we know there’s some other kind of work that would satisfy our personal sense of purpose. That there’s something else we want to do with our lives.
And we all know, at some level, that not finding this sense of meaning in our work is no damned way to live.
It’s one thing to be an ungrateful little snot, but another to acknowledge, honor, and embrace the inner knowing that, even in these outwardly uncertain times, our lives could — and even should — be something more.
The Future We Want
That morning, while I lay on a thin blanket on the floor, struggling through the morning stretches and reminding myself to breath, my answer hit me:
The Future we want has to come through the Now.
Put another way,
The Now we want has to come through the Now we have.
Do you see it?
Forgive the semantic word play, but the Future we want is actually the Now we haven’t achieved … yet.
(There’s only one Now … I don’t see a way around that one.)
If we dismiss the value of Now (as in, if our Now happens to be Monday) then we are denying the Now we want from entering the Now we have.
Likewise, if we only value the Now of our weekends, we are dismissing the value of the Now of the rest of the week.
(I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can reject the present moment for a contiguous 120 hours.)
We want what we want, and it is only right that we literally want it Now.
So What About Mondays?
Laying there on my floor, pausing for a moment from trying to stretch out hamstrings that are just too tight for their own good, I let this realization settle for a few moments.
What this meant was that I could step back from the emotional baggage I had brought to the day for all these years.
What this meant was that, even though I was still tied to having forty two and a half hours (or so) plus travel time monopolized by my job each week, I felt more freed up to utilize what time I did have available outside of the job, instead of clouding and effectively diminishing that same amount of time with resentment for how little there was of it.
What it meant was that it would be easier from that point on to focus on creating the Now I want to eventually replace the Now I have.
Hey Buddy … Affirm This
In the weeks since, I’ve had to greet several Mondays, and I think I’ve done fairly well with keeping a better attitude about them. Honestly, this last Monday morning I found myself backsliding a bit, but I was able to break up the Monday Morning Blahs that were clouding my horizon by using my realization as a kind of personal affirmation.
So, repeat after me:
The Future I want has to come through the Now.
Copyright © 2010, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.