To Be More You, Be Less You

Supermarket

Supermarket (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

In our everyday lives, we often do things just because we’ve always done them. After writing yesterday’s post, I tried to come up with my own list of “I’m the kind of person who___(Fill in the blank).” I came up with “I’m the kind of person who…hates standing in line” just as I was standing in a long line at the supermarket.

The thought jarred me and brought me to a new level of understanding. What if I tried to be the exact opposite kind of person? What if I tried to be the kind of person who could stand in a long line and relax and simply…be? What if I tried being less me to be more me?

I decided to do a very simple – but life-changing – experiment. I stood next to my shopping cart loaded with goodies ranging from potato chips that my husband loves to yogurt for one of my daughters to Medjool dates for everyone. Instead of getting annoyed by the shopper in front of me who was arguing with the cashier about the price of the orange peppers, instead of focusing on how there are never enough supermarket cashiers, and then wondering how come women always end up being the supermarket cashiers, and then feeling bad about how many low-paying jobs there are and how people can barely pay the rent, and finally, feeling really disgruntled because I had about 87 other things I could be doing if I wasn’t wasting my time standing in line, I thought this: I can turn what I might have seen as wasted time into worthwhile time. I can use this moment as a lesson. I can teach myself a new way to be me. I can start a new chapter of my life right now.

And instead of reaching for a gossip magazine to leaf through – what I call junk food for the brain – I closed my eyes and breathed deep. I gently reminded myself to stay in the moment and to experience what it might feel like to be the kind of person who doesn’t waste a moment being impatient, harassed and hurried. I can be the kind of person who can stand calmly and be in this moment of life and fully appreciate being alive.

It might have lasted only a few minutes but it worked. Like Madame Curie finally discovering something crucial in one of her experiments, I discovered something crucial in my own experiment in living my life. I don’t necessarily have to be the kind of person I’ve always been. Just because I’ve always done something one way shouldn’t prevent me from trying something different.

To me, living life to the fullest means being the best me I can possibly be. And that means not doing things out of habit. I want to take a look at my assumptions about myself and then decide if they still suit me. Remember how Goldilocks sits in different chairs at the bears’ house? I want to experiment with different ways of being me. If I’m the kind of person who is impatient, I’ll try practicing being patient. If I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to wait on line, I’ll practice waiting on line. If I’m the kind of person who drives through a yellow light (yes, I confess), today I’ll try something different and stop—as an experiment.

Are you the kind of person who never comments on a blog? Just for today, comment on a blog and let me know the ways in which you tried something different!

Oh, for those of you who missed it yesterday, you can still read my article about how Israeli soldiers are trying to change people’s perceptions of them — one penpal at a time. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/95180/idf-vets-fight-for-better-p-r/

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