My dad used to have this riddle for me: If a ship left one port and headed for another, stopping all along the way to have one of its parts replaced at every stop until each one had been swapped out, at what point would it be considered a brand new ship? I was never sure of the right answer, but I've since decided that each replacement makes that ship something new ... something better than it was before. And we can do the same for ourselves with every moment--starting now.
Several years ago I finally decided to start doing some everyday things that I had always wished I would do--things that felt good in my heart but were often a bit inconvenient. I began carrying my recyclables and food waste home from work after meals to put into our household recycling and compost bin. I took a long, hard look at how I spent my money and thought about the impact of each purchase I made. And if I had a bad experience with a company--if I felt I or the employees weren't treated respectfully, for example--I voted with my feet and shopped elsewhere.
Each little change I came up with felt like a little victory--that I was making a difference in my own way. I actually started looking forward to finding new ways to improve myself ... almost like a game: what other things can I do to make this world a better place? So imagine how cool it was to discover that I have the choice everyday to speak (or think) positive change!
I've followed the course of one friend who starts each morning with a personal affirmation to have an "easeful" day, and another who uses positive, goal-oriented phrases for her passwords. I soon found myself often stopping mid-sentence (or -thought) when I started talking negative. That one sure hasn't been easy lately, but finding more eloquent ways to turn my displeasure about what's happening around me into messages of hope has helped me slow down to examine my true feelings. And when I'm talking to others in this way, I can't help but notice that being present and finding the positive in situations is contagious.
I'm always a little glum each autumn when the leaves start falling--it often just seems like a sad ending to a movie. But I've started another little game with myself ... looking for all the plants that already have buds on the tips of their branches. The ones that can show us what's to come after a time of rest, rejuvenation and renewal.