Over the past week, I feel like I’m regaining myself. After a whirlwind year of change, anxiety, growth, and worry, I feel like I’m coming back to my roots.
And it’s not just my metaphorical roots, literally even my hair, which has been progressively highlighted over the year, has returned to it’s normal chestnut color.
Life is good.
What is so amazing about this growing transformation is how little has actually changed physically. My perception and life paradigm is returning back to north. But my circumstances remain largely the same. And I couldn’t be happier.
While re-reading The Seven Habits, I have found where so much of my stress has generated from. I let my center focus on outward influences rather than principles.
As Stephen Covey explains in detail, there are many centers that we can have which will act as a barometer in our life. They become our compasses which help us analyze how we feel and react at any given moment. Centers can be focused on spouse/significant other, family, work, money, friends, self, and even enemies. And each of these centers will guide decisions that we need to make each day.
But each center has specific vulnerabilities which can leave us less effective and more reactive throughout our lives. And several centers can overlap one another and cast all sorts of distorted shadows on our lives and guide us in dizzying circles.
I found myself in this vortex myself this summer.
To be honest, I was centered on work, significant other, self, and enemy.Â
Anything that happened, both good or bad with the product lines could cast a shadow on my entire day. Anything that I felt, both good or bad, about Mr. Lively and I could shape my mood. Any thought about getting all of the “stuff” in life that I wanted could cast ridicule on my life’s less perfect areas and make me feel dissatisfied. And any interaction that did not go well with manufacturers (who are certainly not enemies, but shared tense moments when things didn’t go as planned) over the summer could shake me as well.
I was an emotional and reactive mess. And at some point in August I realized so much had changed in the past 11 months of my life, that I almost didn’t recognize myself. I couldn’t connect who I was in August with who I’ve been my whole life.
Heck, even my hair was close to blond.
But coming back to The Seven Habits has retaught me the lesson that I learned several years ago, back in college when I went through a similar bout of doubt, frustration, and anxiety.
I had stopped living by principles.
Principles like excellence, honesty, integrity, potential, patience, dignity, encouragement, and growth had for many years been my guide. But somewhere along the way I had lost that focus. As Covey claims, life simply goes well when principles are followed and centered upon. And from six years of doing so myself, I have lived this and know that it works. In fact, almost all major and lasting religions and spiritual teachings share these common principles. They are timeless and universal.
I had just forgotten to value and look to them as my guide.
Since revisiting this concept, I’ve begun to reintegrate principles as my center. When things happen in my life that I might feel anxious or worried about, I’ve begun to ask myself how I’m doing in the situation? What is the principle that I can call upon? If I know that I have acted with good intention in the best way possible, I have stopped letting myself get upset about small injustices.
Today for example, I’ve chosen not to get upset about the large order that got lost in the US mail and needed to be remade and sent more expensively to the customer even though it was not our fault. Instead, I chose the principle of being patient, and delivering excellent service to our customer. Since I did the best that I could in this situation, I had no reason to get worried or upset at the money lost on this missing order.
However, when I curtly declined an invite to an event today, I didn’t do so with principles in mind. Because our credit card information had been stolen from an order with this company, I acted out of spite and was unkind to people whose system was simply hacked. Going forward, I want to act with kindness and understanding.
Using principles as a compass is helping me recognize that my ability to choose the right path is where my focus should lie, not in what actually happens to me along the way.
As long as I’m acting in a way that I’m proud of, I have no reason not to worry about what other people do or what happens. Sure, I will need to take appropriate actions as things come up, but I don’t need to dwell and let outside influences carry too much weight.
And the best part is, principles lead to peace. Which is what I’ve sought in vain for so long this summer.
It feels great to be peaceful and brunette again.