CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This time of year we hear a lot about holiday "wish lists" -- if not directly from those around us, then certainly from the barrage of TV commercials and newspaper inserts.
So, I've been thinking more about wishes. As often happens when I'm getting ready to write this column, I'll hear something that results in an "a-ha moment" for me. This happened the other day when a wise friend reminded me of the proverb by the philosopher Philemon: "It is better to want what you have than to have what you want."
I believe it's healthy to set goals and to work to achieve them. I also know, from personal experience, that this can get out of hand -- and the focus becomes totally on the future. My mentor and cable television pioneer Bill Turner always guarded against this possibility by cautioning those around him to "stop striving and start arriving."
I fall somewhere in the middle along this continuum. While I think it's important to accomplish goals and to learn and grow, I also know the value of living in the present -- and not depending on some future event for my happiness.
How much time and energy do you spend wishing things were different? Most of us spend a lot of time thinking things will be better when ... we lose weight, make more money, get out of debt, have more free time, get married, get divorced, recover from an injury ...
Author Mike Robbins, points out that while the circumstances of our lives -- both positive and negative -- do have an impact on us, we always have a choice in how we relate to our circumstances and to ourselves. A big house, a great job, lots of money, a fit body, an incredible relationship or anything else we say we want, can't and won't make us happy if we don't choose to be.
In other words, to create authentic fulfillment in our lives, we have to learn how to want what we already have. This doesn't mean everything is perfect -- which is almost never the case -- or that we can't desire for things to evolve in a way we deem positive. It simply means we choose to accept what we have in our lives, right now, with a sense of gratitude and surrender.
Learn to make peace with life as it is. The passion, joy and fulfillment we experience doesn't come from life itself. It comes from within us -- and our ability to accept, appreciate and celebrate what we have in our lives.
Here are some great questions, compiled by Robbins, to ask yourself when dealing with some of your most difficult aspects -- the stuff you say you don't want: