With everyone looking toward 2021 as our reprieve from the dumpster fire we have been witnessing since last March, I must admit that it’s a lot of pressure to put on a random date. Did we really think January 1 would come and things would suddenly be better, calmer, more peaceful and overall less sucky? Because if we did, 2021 does not seem to have gotten the memo. One of the most difficult elements of that is the fact that so much is out of our control. And if I hear one more time that “we are in charge of our own happiness... Choose happiness… How you feel is your choice”, etc., I think I am going to blow my cheerful top. But all it took for me to “get it” was to sit for a minute and think about what that really means.
And then I realized that the reason we collectively feel so let down is because we have looked so forward to this new year, this new beginning and upward momentum, that the feeling of despair is due to us not feeling like we have anything to look forward to anymore. Only a few weeks in and 2021 has already let us down and people are suddenly counting down the days until 2022.
It has been extra critical this past year that we focus on things that make us happy however, many of the things that make us happy have not been an option.
But if we dig a little deeper, look a little harder we might find that we can still find something… one thing... to look forward to each day. Of course, that varies from person to person and from day to day.
It doesn’t have to be big or poignant. Just something good to focus on.
Take, for example, the fact that right now my happiness lies in the box of See’s candy that has been stashed under the driver seat of the mini van since Christmas. I just came in from a quick visit to the garage not even caring that my mouth still full and crumbs of dark chocolate rested on my white t-shirt. Our housekeeper happened to be there that day and caught me making my stealth entrance. She looked at me, nodded slowly with a knowing look and said, “I keep MY candy in my closet. There’s a lock on the door.” We gave each other a warm smile but we didn’t laugh. It wasn’t a joke. We were merely sharing a page out of our survival guide.
Tomorrow will bring something different that I can look forward to (mainly because the See’s Candy has run out). But there is always something. A phone call to a girlfriend, a walk around the neighborhood alone, a quick yoga session, etc. Whatever the case may be, if we have that one thing that we look forward to, that can make all the difference.
If we can take that one step further and (stay with me now) have some way of actually BEING happy instead of just looking forward to DOING something that is supposed to MAKE you happy, then you are one step ahead of the game.
Take, for example, distance learning.
Zoom meetings are tough. Getting my kids ON a Zoom meeting is tougher and to expect it to happen without complaining is just absurd. So after some desperate contemplation I wondered if I could get my kids to feel a sense of ownership, association or affiliation with the subject they were studying, would that make it better?. Instead of saying, “You have to DO math right now”, I started to say, “It’s time for you to BE a mathematician.” Or instead of, “You have your Science Zoom now,” It turned into, “You get to BE a scientist for the next 50 minutes.” It was on a silly whim and totally unplanned when I threw this at them, but it shockingly made a difference. They felt a CONNECTION to what they were doing. It wasn’t just about the action or the task. It (learning) was enhancing who they were in that moment by providing information and resources to make you a better “you”, whether it was a scientist, historian, etc., depending on what subject was next on the agenda.
It developed over time and then just became normal. Well, ‘normal’ to us.
But then I started to think about how I could implement this into my own life and, better yet, how it can pertain to the game of golf. The answer: pretty easily.
There’s a reason children invoke the names of their favorite athletes and “become” them. When my brother Phil won his first Masters in 2004 the rest of the world saw a man achieve his first major victory. I, on the other hand, saw a little boy pretending to be Seve Ballesteros in our backyard for hours and hours on end, speaking in the third person as a commentator would, as he/she verbally navigated (as an 8-year-old boy would put it) “the greatest moment in history”. To that little boy, this wasn’t short game practice that would surpass hundreds and hundreds of hours. It was a boy embodied in his idol’s character, frame of mind and winning attitude. He wasn’t a little boy practicing his golf swing and short game in hopes of improving to the point of being a champion. He already WAS a champion. And champions practice their golf swings and short games.
So if we can decide that this is going to be a good year (pretend if you must), then we can at least try to approach it in that way. It might not be “good” in the way you want it to be, or it might take a detour, but if you look for the good you will find it. Sure, we might need to look harder and longer than in years past. But it’s there. And it’s ours if we choose to accept it, even if it looks completely different than what we were originally looking for.
Here’s to being on an “upswing” and to salvaging 2021 by turning it around in our heads in hopes of tangible results to follow.