On most weekdays, I drive my car over 150 kilometres in a day on average.
And nothing can make me go from calm to angry in 0 to 60 faster than an annoyance on the road, whether it be a slow driver in my way or roadworks in unexpected routes.
I can be listening to Christian radio while cursing loudly to myself in frustration.
Embarassingly, it’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing once my hands are on the steering wheel.
Such is our journey in life.
I find that the way we approach major changes, minor setbacks and everyday mundane things can turn us into ugly road ragers or beautifully cruisin’ drivers in the style of Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief.
Don’t know about you, but I’d rather look like Princess Grace than a hairy dude chucking a fit any time.
So here’s my traffic lights inspired rules for traffic-stopping beauty in the midst of life’s journey.
RED = STOP
Stopping bad behaviours that may be contributing to the ugliness of your life.
It can be anything like the obvious whining, complaining, nagging, worrying. Or the subtler ones like overextending yourself, keeping a messy house, eating crappy foods or not making time for exercise.
I had to stop my usual propensity for sarcastic remarks, especially directed towards my hunky hubby. It took awhile, and I still slip up once in a while. But I’ve learned to just focus on my hubby’s delectably hunky shoulders and arms and I let myself melt so I don’t go into the “Isn’t it bloody obvious?” tone-of-voice. It’s really not very becoming, and doesn’t do much for our relationship.
Oftentimes, as long-married couples we forget how to be polite to one another. But we wouldn’t dream of snapping at total strangers for fear of making a bad impression. So it should be with those closest to us who we profess to love the most.
And with my kids, it’s also about modelling to them the kind of behaviour I want them to do. I’m not always perfect, but I’m so much more aware these days.
Hence, there is a lot less screaming going on in the house, and the car, since my personal epiphany in the last quarter of 2011 (ooh, I’ll tell you about that in another post).
“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
– Henry Ford
And don’t fool yourself. You have more power than you think. You can stop any behaviour, even if it means you won’t know what to do with yourself next or what to replace it with. It’s a start, and it’s often enough to take a lot of ugliness out of your day.
Here’s a short list of what you might want to stop right now:
- Stop screaming.
- Stop eating junk food. Or just stop eating after you’re full.
- Stop watching junk tv.
- Stop worrying about things that have not happened yet,
- Stop wearing clothes that don’t fit – either your body, or just you.
You don’t need to make up a list.
But most likely, in the moment, you will have to make a mental note and pause. Which leads me to the next rule.
YELLOW = ACCEPT
I know, the image says ‘wait’ or it can even mean ‘slow down’.
But in the general rule of life, for me it means to accept what is and start from there. Stop struggling.
Let your regrets go. Forgive yourself for the wrong decisions you’ve made. Live the life you have right now.
It means stopping all judgments of what your situation is right now. It’s not good nor bad. It is what it is.
Then go further than that. In my Christian faith, I can calmly accept anything and everything because I believe there is Someone more powerful looking out for me.
In theory this is easy, in practice not so much. It’s that old familiar saying “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.
But I hold on to my faith and I accept my situation with as much beauty and grace as I can muster, so I can calmly figure out what I want to do with it.
To accept is to take a deep breath and say “Okay, where do I go from here?”.
“There is no such thing as a problem without a solution, only problems for which we do not yet have enough information to know what the solution is. When you have enough information, it is easy to solve a problem.”
— Jose Silva
So maybe God wants you to WAIT or life is telling you to SLOW DOWN. Accept it for what it is and stay beautiful!
Don’t look at the things you have to do as a boring chore or a bad joke sprung on you. Accept it as part of your life and embrace every moment. Look at it as an opportunity to grow and go…
Green = GO
Be your own kind of beautiful.
I’m 36 now. Certainly I know I’m too old to be caring about what other people think.
But that is tempered with the maturity that when I am true to myself, I do so not just to prove a point but to grow in love for my God, my self and others.
So it’s not about having a temper tantrum.
It’s about living your life with style and grace knowing that you are doing what’s right for you. Take criticism as it comes, but most of all, don’t expect other people to praise or appreciate you. Do it to yourself.
Give yourself that gift of appreciation because living a life true to yourself is really just between you and God.
If you’ve resolved to stop your bad behaviours, accepted what you need to do (or not do), then go and start building your own beautiful life and be YOU.