There is a popular quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw: Life is not about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself. I read this quote often - it pops up on Pinterest when I am searching for inspiration and on social media from others sharing inspiration. Well, if that's true, the logical follow up question is, "who do I want to be?"
I'd like to think I know who I am. I don't always like who I am, but I know me. Few people know me; most know a version of me, usually watered down. I admit, I can be a lot to take so a full dose of Lauren is not always the best medicine for everyone.
Who I want to be is and always has been an interesting question. I've spent a very, very long time trying to be what I think other people expect. And that was very, very exhausting. In an effort to be accepted and understood, I tried to hide the parts of my personality that were not on everyone's checklist of acceptable attributes. Let's just say, I was not very good at it.
Not to quote every contemporary self-help book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, but I was not living as my "authentic self." So I suppose I want to be me - the real me, not the watered down version.
Happiness, true happiness can be elusive. I am lucky. I have a lot of joy in my life, but I also find myself with a lot of misery (much of is self-inflicted). Often, I am bothered by small things. Some people have accused me of living in a chronic state of aggravation. And while I protest, "No, that's not true," it might be a little true. The thing is, I do not suffer fools, but I also tend to keep my thoughts to myself until they begin to overflow in a sense. When my list of grievances starts to get a little long, I air them. I can be a bit of a complainer, and it's in those moments when I am even beginning to annoy myself, that I have to force myself to change my attitude.
I am not a true believer in the famous contemporary philosopher, Oprah, but I have been considering some of the messages of gratitude she shared with her daily audience as necessary exercises in changing my crummy attitude. When I find myself raging against everything from adversaries to co-workers to machines (the color copier and I are still not on speaking terms), I try to remind myself about the "buts." For example: "so and so is not completing the task I gave her quickly enough and that is so annoying...BUT, I am grateful I have someone to help me with this portion of the project."
I was surprised how the added "but" halted my complaining. And it seems to help with all aspects of my life. "I'm so aggravated that Anna came home late. She should have been home by 7...BUT I'm grateful I had time to myself to organize her closet and pack her suitcase." Suddenly, my aggravation melted away. "So and so never called me to confirm our plans and now I don't know if I should schedule something else...BUT at least I have a plan B." Totally works.
The BUT has helped me change my perspective and my attitude. It's actually a little freaky how well it works. And while there are still plenty of things, people and experiences that drive me batty, that list has shrunk substantially. At times I have to force the BUT (that's what she said...sorry, inappropriate joke from The Office) and there are moments when there is no BUT.
I am finding that I am able to let go of those issues that have caused me grief in the past by turning my complaint into a moment for which I am thankful and that has a direct correlation to my happiness levels. Surrounding myself with positive people helps too, but really, I am responsible for my own happiness. Like most things, happiness is a choice.
So if I am going to create myself or re-create myself, these exercises where I am extracting positives and discarding negatives is probably the right way to go. They say you get back from the universe what you give. I hope that's true.