Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Dawn, And Working At It

Yes, I am ready for the “time change” this coming weekend. I really wish we could eliminate the switch and just live in real time, but that seems unlikely to happen. And isn’t it ironic that a person who would prefer to stay with “real time” — the time that now prevails only from late October to early March — has a perfectly awful time adjusting to the switch from DST to EST in the fall, and thrives on the spring-time switch.

Wait, let me get this straight: The autumn time change, where we “fall back” and thus gain an hour’s sleep, messes with me, but the spring time change, where we “spring forward” and lose an hour’s sleep, is good for me? Yep, that’s right. I don’t understand it either, but like clockwork, I begin to have trouble staying awake in the evenings when we fall back, and I wake up insanely early in the mornings throughout the winter. Insanely early, like 4:00, 4:30 — sleeping until any time after 5:00 a.m. feels like sleeping in.

I don’t know if it’s some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder or if the “fall back” time change just messes with my circadian rhythms. I know that this year, the maladjustment (which used to readjust itself by Christmas or New Year’s) has persisted throughout the winter, and I am really looking forward to “springing forward” next weekend. I would love to just get up in the morning, stay awake all day and through the evening, and go to bed between 11 and midnight and sleep through until 6:00 a.m. or so.

Fortunately, I am a morning person, and for many years I have required only about 6 hours of sleep a night (yes, including the doze-offs that prevail in the winter evenings).

So, the sleep thing may solve itself in a few days. I hope so. Although I think sleep is somewhat overrated, when I am doing it, I like to do it well.

Now, this morning, I noticed something interesting. I love opening my drapes early, early in the morning and watching daylight find its way into my little wooded hollow. It does not bother me in the slightest that I start out looking into darkness, because I know dawn is coming. But at the end of the day, I find myself closing all of the curtains well before it actually starts to get dark. I don’t want to watch it get dark.

And that got me thinking — again — about change, and how people deal with it. I like the early morning change from dark to light, and I push away and block out the change from light to dark. And it’s because I like morning. I get up feeling excited for what I have planned for the day and feeling energized to get at it. Getting to the end of the day and letting go of its possibilities? Not so much.

Like most people, I deal quite well with change that I choose and, therefore, like. Also like most people, I resist change that I do not choose. And each event of the day involves some kind of change, some movement from what I was just comfortable with to something different. All change brings stress with it, but the stress of coping with a change that one did not choose is a sharper stress, and it requires a more conscious effort to manage it.

It’s the conscious effort, which involves a series of conscious decisions, that gave birth to the second part of this post’s title. Don’t we love reading those wonderful, pithy, positive, affirming quotes our friends and our “liked” pages share on Facebook? Maybe it’s reading a page from a favorite motivational book in the morning. It generates good feeling, and that carries us, some days, for quite a distance.

Then there are other days when that boost falls short and the good feeling does not persist very far into the day at all. Those are the days when we have to Work At It. What a strange idea — to work at feeling good!

Which of these things is true? Is it that “feeling good” leads us to do good things in our day — that acts of kindness, good interactions with other people, going to the gym or out for that walk, doing our best work, accomplishing goals, all are made possible if we start out “feeling good.” Or is it the opposite? What if the way we live our day is what generates our feelings about it and about ourselves?

If the second thing is true, then a person can make a conscious choice to act in a positive way — to take on the unchosen change and find something good in it, to do whatever is the right thing in each situation that presents, to smile, to be pleasant, to be aware and mindful. Those motivational posts then become a springboard; their effect does not have to last so long, because each conscious decision to embrace the next moment creates its own energy.

Now, some people would like us to think that relying on feelings to manage our day is at best a shaky way to manage life. Maybe so. But the fact is, we really spend a lot of time with our feelings, and what matters, I think, is whether we let ourselves be led by them, or whether we choose how they are going to affect us. Grab the good ones and use them to create energy! Make a decision to overcome the not-so-good ones and turn them into something that creates energy!

You can call me Pollyanna if you want, and I’ll still go through life thinking that positive thinking is a good way to live.

Not only that, I just love starting the day with a good ramble!

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