I once belonged to a twelve-step group trying to come to terms with my mother’s alcoholism when I was growing up and which continued until she died. One of the slogans from this group went as follows, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” I pondered and pondered over the possible meaning of this saying for several weeks wondering what in the dickens they were going on about. To you, reading this blog, the meaning may seem simple but to my mind which was so horribly muddled at the time this slogan seemed as nonsensical as Dr. Seuss. However, one evening as I sat and listened to more advanced members speak of how their lives had changed for the better by applying this simple axiom I was suddenly struck by its deep meaning. In essence it was saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Finally, a beam of light began to shine through my darkened world. I had the ability to change my life, to improve my lot, but only if I chose to do so. This began my spiritual awakening that has been on going now for twenty-seven years and will continue the rest of my life. What did this saying mean to me and how has it changed me? I could go and on about the differences between before understanding this simple principle and now but for the sake of the length of this piece I’ll focus on only three of them.
One. I am the only one who can effectively change me. No one else has the power. Yes, I can follow along someone else’s path but that will not lead to personal freedom.
Two. Continually going down the same path without changing my direction is a bit like beating a dead dog. Nothing good can come from it. The only way to change the outcome of my circumstances is to change the direction I am going in. This may mean changing physical locations or changing a mindset to become more alert and aware of what I have to be grateful for today.
Three. Life is life and it’s not always fair. The facts are that my life will change and not always the way I want it to. My life will also be full of challenges. Accepting these truths allows me to relax and enjoy the ride. This way I am not always trying to force solutions. Yes, I must plan for the future but since I’m not getting out of life alive, (none of us is by the way), I need to make up my mind to pay attention to the beauty all around me. This is a recent decision and choice I have made—something totally foreign to my old way of thinking. If I continued to go down I had been going down it would have led to discouragement and I would have allowed myself to be cheated out of all the loveliness life has to offer by the harm that was done to me as a child. That would have been a dirty shame and (the next three words are vital) MY OWN FAULT!
As you can see I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to repeat the old patterns of thinking that have held me down for so long. I do not want always do what I always did and only get what I always got. I want to move on into the future unafraid and live my life with courage and meaning.
I challenge everyone reading this piece to do the same, to reach out for the future unafraid by enjoying all the beauty and blessings you have today. Will I fail? Will I have hard days ahead? Yes, of course, but I’ll get back up and keep marching forward because I’m a survivor—that’s what I do and life is a miracle to be relished not a horrible ordeal to just survive until I die.
“Don’t ever forget that in our life, nothing remains unchanged. Everything changes at some point of time. We must learn how to adapt to every situation and change with them.”
Anvrag Prakash Ray