By Dr. Vicki Panaccione
Well, it's summer. Time to pull out my favorite T-shirts that are too light for me to wear unless it's 90-plus degrees. I have quite a collection of shirts emblazoned with some of my favorite expressions. I thought I would share them with you. I'm sure you will catch on to the main theme.
My No. 1 T-shirt exclaims, "Make It Happen!" That's my motto. I believe if we want something, we have the power to make it happen. If we don't try, it certainly won't happen. And if we whine and complain, it won't happen. But if we put in the effort necessary to reach that goal, we can, indeed, make it happen.
The Quakers have a wonderful expression: "When you pray, move your felt." I love it. Even these religious, simple-lifestyle people recognize the need to take action and not just sit around waiting for miracles.
There is a joke about a very religious man who would go down to the beach every week and pray that his god let him win the lottery. Week after week, he would pray without success. Finally, and a booming voice came down from the heavens. "Joe," the voice cried out, "Help me out here - buy a ticket!"
Too often people just find themselves defeated before they start. Or they really don't believe in their own abilities. This kind of attitude won't them help their reach goals.
Which brings me to T-shirt No. 2: "Attitude is Everything." And it is. If you have a positive attitude, you are more likely to try to, "Make It Happen." Because positive thinking moves us forward. Negative thinking holds us back.
Another version of this expression is, "Attitude is Altitude." And it is. Because your attitude will determine whether you reach for the stars, sink to the depths of despair, or passively remain unhappy and in place.
I found T-shirt No. 3 on Broadway, the heart of the theater district in Manhattan. It reads: "Life is not a Dress Rehearsal." It's not. Even if you happen to believe in reincarnation or an afterlife, right now, this life is all you have. And even if you believe you will transcend to another world, you won't have this one.
So, the time is now or never to feel fulfilled in this lifetime. I watch people all day long put their dreams on hold, put off taking a trip, wearing a special dress or spending time with their children. People are busy. And there's always later and tomorrow. But not really.
Sure, the children will be there tomorrow. But now they are toddlers, not newborns; now they are in kindergarten, not pre-school. Now they can tie their shoes and don't need you to do that anymore. And by the time you make time, they are no longer interested in playing house, going for an ice cream cone or spending time with you at all.
When you treat life like a dress rehearsal, things get missed, opportunities get sacrificed and events go unattended. Your children are only this age once. And unlike a dress rehearsal, you don't get to do it again, or practice until you get it right.
I don't have this shirt, yet. But I'm on the look out. It reads: "Carpe Diem - Seize the Day!" Live life to the fullest, and end the day knowing that you have truly lived. For you, this might mean doing something you've been putting off, spending time with your children or pampering yourself. It is not for me to define; it's for you to decide.
At the end of each day, I used to put an "X" on the calendar to signify that that day was done, and we were moving onto the next day. But, I now have a new strategy. I decided that instead of "X-ing" out the day, meaning it's gone, I now put a smiley face, meaning it has been. And I'm happy for all my days.
I urge you to be happy for each day and to teach that to your children. Because today is all you have.
Don't greet the day as if it was a dress rehearsal. Go out and seize the day with a positive attitude and make it happen!
Clinical psychologist, Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., has a specialized practice in Melbourne, working exclusively with children, adolescents and families.
To contact Dr. Vicki regarding her workshops, seminars or publications, call (321)-722-9001 or visit www.askdrvicki.com.