Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Take the cookies when they are passed

So what life lessons can be found in a cookie (other than too many can add unwanted pounds?) Well, quite a bit actually. I recently heard the saying, "Take the cookies when they are passed." This is a "seize the moment" message. It's easy to fall into procrastination and postpone taking action on things we say are significant to us.

Some cookies only pass by once in a lifetime. If we're honest, all of us usually have some things we'd change if we could. Maybe they are not monumental issues, but generally we can look back and wish we'd done something different. There may have been conversations we wish we'd had with someone who is no longer alive. Or maybe there were educational or career opportunities we would take now that we passed up years ago. It may not be possible to return to that specific opportunity. Those of us who have raised children often look back wishing we would have handled something differently. For that particular moment in time, we cannot go back and change the situation. It's in the past.

Not all cookies are good for you. Be selective about which cookies you take. Some will wreak havoc with your life. It's best to let those go by. In fact, stay away from the plate. Taking risks or making choices that threaten your health or moral integrity can inflict devastation on yourself or others. Things such as substance abuse, cheating on taxes, adultery, or betrayal are best left alone. Though they may be tempting, the payoff isn't worth it. Passing up these cookies may mean you have a seemingly difficult road ahead, but in the end, you'll be very glad you didn't take one of these cookies. They are akin to poison.

Some cookies may come around a second time, but on the other hand, they may not. It's easy for us to have a mindset that says "I can do that later." I find that as I get older, I'm realizing that "later" may be sooner than I envision. Phrases like "Someday let's help build a Habitat for Humanity house" or "Let's go visit Aunt Maria in Italy some year" are plans that are dependent on certain events over which we have little control. What action do you need to take now to move toward the things you intend to do? Losing weight or developing an exercise routine, reviewing for an upcoming exam you know you'll need to eventually take for a promotion, or re-establishing a connection with someone you no longer have contact with, but wish you did, are all things that have a ticking clock alongside them. I'm taking the cookies more these days because I'm not sure they'll be offered to me again.

If you passed up some cookies you wished you'd taken, look for others. Maybe it was best we didn't take them after all. There are valuable lessons in passing up some cookies. If you have regrets, what can you do to create new options for yourself? Opportunities always exist around us. Maybe it won't look quite the same as what you passed up, but it will bring into being something similar or even better than you thought possible. Don't dwell in regret. You may be able to significantly improve a relationship by owning up to imperfection or past mistakes. Your business failure may provide a springboard for you to help someone else or it may lead you to finally researching a new profession you've always been told by others you'd be good at.

So here's to following through on those good intentions today.

"Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great."
Orison Swett Marden

Photo: © Dawn Hudson | Dreamstime.com

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