Instruction Manual for Life

This weekend I was helping my mother with her outdoor holiday lights.  She bought these cute twinkle lights from one of those home shopping networks on tv.  Unfortunately, the lights were not looking as cute as the informercial.  So,we were searching the owner’s manual for directions on how to change the settings of her light display.

In the owner’s manual it listed the various parts of the equipment with a diagram of each part.  It also listed how to assemble the lights, change the settings and maintain the upkeep of the display.  It even contained suggestions on how to install the lights and where to locate the lights for the best effect.

Analyzing this owner’s manual got me to thinking about how I have scripted my own instruction manual for my life.  I have an unwritten instruction book on how to assemble my life and suggestions on the best way to display my life.  Most of these instructions I picked up from my family, my own experience or my culture.  I am wondering if my operator’s manual is still holds valid accurate information for the life I am living now.  I know that I have changed so it may be time to change my owner’s manual too.  Is it possible to tinker with the owner’s manual?  I think so!

These tinkerings occur all them time.  We follow a certain set of instructions until they no longer work for us and then we decide to change or discard the rule.  Let me give you a silly example, I used to believe that I couldn’t wear white before Easter or after Labor Day and then some brilliant fashionista came up with winter white!  Now I can wear my white jeans all year long!  You may be thinking that this is a fashion trend and has nothing to do with real life or important things.  But it does.  Rules/Instructions are often arbitrary.  They are made up by others and accepted by us.

So, what instructions (beliefs) have I accepted that no longer serve me?

Some of my list includes:

1. People should always be nice.
(This used to feel so true to me, but I now realize that nice is subjective. My nice is not always the same version as your nice.  Understanding this idea has allowed me to give folks the benefit of the doubt.)

2.  I am responsible for the way people feel about me.
(I used to think that if I was pleasant, people would like me.  I now know that it is possible to stand on my head in order to please someone else and they may still not like me.  Their preference on wether they like me or not is none of my business.)

3. Time is precious and not to be wasted.
(This belief is a big one for me!  I want to make the most of my time, but I am learning to remember that time is eternal and so am I.  So, there is plenty of time. Always.)

4. Finish what you start.
(I do not like unfinished things, but this belief was driving me crazy.  It was making a task master out of me.  When I would try something new I believed that I had to finish it even if I didn’t like the project/task/class.  I am learning that sometimes it is more than okay to throw in the towel; it is necessary.  I am learning to give myself a break.)

5. Money doesn’t grow on trees.
(We have all heard this one.  It’s my variation of money is precious and you should take care of it.  I am learning that money is like seeds.  If I plant it generously by sharing it, spending it, investing it, the money comes back to me in folds.  It’s really amazing!)

And the list goes on and on of beliefs (instructions) that I am amending or eliminating from my owner’s manual.  My ultimate goal is to have only a couple of instructions in my owner’s manual.

  1. Love unconditionally. (Me and everybody else.)
  2. Follow my joy. (No matter what.)

I believe if I can follow those two instructions for the rest of my life, my life will be one worth living.