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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Paint Job or How to Change Your Life

There is a building that is owned by my town that, sadly, needs a coat (or two) of paint. Since I moved here six years ago, I have watched the general decline of its paint job with a feeling of frustration and despair. “What can I do to help?” I have wondered. I decided to assemble a list: I could talk to the town clerk and ask what plans are in the works to care for the building. I could request its condition be placed on the agenda at the next town meeting. I could raise donations to hire a company to paint the building. I could dig into my children’s college tuitions to make a financial contribution of my own. I could wield my pen and write a moving call-to-action essay to be published in the town’s news circular, I could initiate a phone tree calling all citizens to arm themselves with paintbrushes on a designated Saturday in May (a very good month for painting in my opinion). Or I can remain interested but dispassionate. I suddenly realized that, without intending it, I discovered a powerful, life-affirming exercise anyone can do. This was a gift that simply planted itself on this page!
How to Change Your Life Step 1. Make an observation about something obvious that bothers you in your life, or about your life. (The building needs paint.) Step 2. Identify the emotions you experience as a result of this matter. (feeling of frustration and despair) Step 3. Write a phrase challenging yourself to change the situation or condition. (What can I do to help?) Step 4. Write an exhaustive list of what you could do to change this situation, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous. Do not censor yourself. When you get on a roll, something actually feels different inside.
Please give this a try! I suggest you start with something non-threatening before you start with a statement like “I have a job that leaves me unhappy and unfullfilled.” I would love to hear how this works for everyone else, but it sure works for me!

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