We can always choose to start over

One of the good things about getting older is that it forces you to make peace with the truth that nothing lasts forever. What’s especially powerful is the recognition that it’s not only the fun and exciting moments that don’t last—it’s also the unpleasant and painful ones. A bad day, or even a string of them, will end. 

But we can also take that truth one step further. We can learn that rather than just waiting for a bad day to end, we can choose to begin again at any moment in the day. This is a teaching that you hear a lot about in recovery circles, but is useful for everyone. 

We just celebrated the beginning of a new year—a time when most people are thinking about making a fresh start. It’s a good time for letting go of the stuff we’re carrying around that no longer serves us, and making space for new growth and experiences. But so often, whatever our intentions and resolutions, we end up returning to our same old habits after a few weeks. Change is hard, after all.

What if, instead of choosing just one time of year as a fresh start, we make a practice of making every day, or even every breath, a new beginning? 

Here’s an example. Let’s say you sleep through your alarm, forget to have breakfast and run into traffic on your way to work. Sounds like a recipe for a rough day right? You can spend all day mad about it, letting that anger affect how you treat the people around you and loading you up with stress, or you can start over. You can take a breath, say something like “I choose to begin again” to yourself, and feel that intention wash through your body. You can also take a break at work to get a snack.

The point is that you have a choice. You can either be caught up in the story of your difficult morning, or you can acknowledge that it’s not doing you any good, be gentle with yourself and let it go. 

If this doesn’t feel natural at first, that’s normal! You don’t have to change all at once. Just make a practice of it, or even a game. See what happens if you commit to starting over, again and again, every day.

Happy New Years!

Joan Borsten