Which Words Would You Change?

I love Tim Herrera’s job title as “Smarter Living Editor.” That is so cool. If I could reset my life from the beginning, I’d like to end up at that title – Smarter Living Editor.

Smarter doesn’t put too much pressure on the reader, as smart might do – as if you’ve got to be smart in all your decisions. Instead, you don’t have to worry so much about being smart. Just do something “smarter” than you were doing.

I’ve got plenty of room to be smarter.

And editor – oh, that would be so cool to help people with their smarter living, as if you could only change out some subjects and verbs and get it done. My kind of job.

Herrera writes a weekly email for The New York Times. This week’s email was about several of the “fear of” acronyms that trip us up. FOMO, or fear of missing out, turns distraction and impulsivity into the rulers of our day. FOBO, or fear of better options, stops us with indecision as we agonize over which choice would be the one perfect one for us.

These terms, Herrera said, were coined by Patrick McGinnis following his experiences in the Harvard Business School. McGinnis has another one that is the Fear of Doing Anything – another type of paralysis.

You may face these FOs as I do. I’ve also got one I’d add to the list – FOLO, or the fear of letting go.

I suspect that somewhere inside my DNA lives a historic preservationist trying to maintain the artifacts of my decades on this earth.

I can only imagine the tour guide of the future saying, “If you open this desk drawer, you can see the remnants of the best deal she ever found. It was back in 1999 when she bought ten boxes of paper clips for a dollar. She was able to use these to fasten papers together for her whole writing career – and never ran out. There’s still an unopened box remaining. Oh, and in this section are the pens that still probably have ink if you press harder. And some pencils that need sharpening. They came free at various conferences she attended.”

Really, there is just so much to see here. I’m sure the tour will be quite popular.

Though here’s a concern: what if the people who come to inspect my space can’t tell the difference between what has value and what doesn’t? What if they, say, move a couch and find a grocery store receipt from 2003? Will they wonder if it contains a forgotten message about the price of bread at the turn of the century? Or will they sense, instinctively, “She wasn’t a very good housekeeper.”

Hard to say. We don’t get to control interpretation. But back to the main idea: letting go is important. When you move something out, you make room for the new thing that’s coming. You only have so much space in a life. So many closets, so many storage rooms, so many shelves, so many drawers, so many cabinets. Letting go is how you can make room for something else.

There’s a question in Isaiah 44:20 that jumped out to me one time: “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” It gave me pause about things to which I was needlessly clinging. I don’t know what that might be for you, but it’s something to think about.

While this letting go could be a physical item, the unhelpful clutter could also be a thought, a belief, an attitude. Our minds and spirits can get cluttered just as much as our physical spaces. And you can let go of old notions that are irrelevant, outdated or simply untrue. But be sure to replace these unhelpful things with something true, or they’ll come right back again and bring their friends.

This is why willpower is lacking in permanence. You need truth, plus a structure. Like language, for instance. Language is a structure. The way you talk to yourself matters. But what if you changed out your subjects and verbs to a friendlier point of view about your life? What if you chose some new, more uplifting sentences to describe your day?

Like they say, be kind to everyone you meet. And let me add: including the one you see in the mirror.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol 2, Issue 26