When I was a child, my parents owned a black and white television. The three channels were ABC, CBS and NBC. By the time I was ten years old, we could watch shows like: My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie, The Mod Squad (I thought they were so cool) and, one of my Dad’s favorites, Dragnet. It seemed as if there were so many choices! On the rare occasions when we ate our evening meal in the living room— watching Tarzan, with TV dinners on our laps—I felt (as Pistol said in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor”) as if “the world was my oyster”!
Channel changing in real life isn’t like waving a magic wand (but, don’t we all wish we had one of those?). But, there’s empowerment in exercising your right to choose. Embracing choice creates intentional living. When we get stuck, we think, “this is my reality; how my life is going to play out; what my story will always be”. We forget that we have the power to “change the channels” in our lives.
At bedtime, when my daughters were young, in addition to their much-loved songs and bedtime stories, I’d have them blink their eyes and flip through “channels” until they found a “show” they wanted to fall asleep to. Sometimes that would be Sesame Street or Mister Rodgers. Other times the star was a Cabbage Patch Doll, Disney Princess or even Strawberry Shortcake. Each time, though, the choice was something they wanted to dream about.
Sadly, too many of us go to sleep each night watching the channel that plays everything except “happy stories”. We rehash what happened that day. We think about what we didn’t cross off the “to do” list. We worry and we mull over solutions to dilemmas. Then, the next morning, we jump back onto the “treadmill of life”, doing the same things, making the same choices, and feeling a whole lot less than joyful and peaceful.
I slowly replay the rich tapestry of relationships and experiences that have been part of the past six decades. Children, grandchildren, parents—now long deceased, friendships that have stood the test of time, all pass through my awareness. Pain, exhilaration, frustration, success, fear and unbridled joy have all been played out. The “channels of my life” have aired dramas, adventures, romances and comedies. I’ve been the protagonist, part of an ensemble cast and, often, simply an “extra” in the background of another story. I’ve given speeches, and I’ve waited in the wings to support another. All along, the channels have kept getting more diverse and more unambiguous at the same time.
Sometimes, we get fed up, frustrated, or tired and do some “channel surfing”. We see options that seem interesting, but then it feels like it’s too much work to make changes. We don’t want to move from what we already know, so we go back to the “familiar thing”.
Sometimes we simply have to put one foot in front of the other and say “hello” to possibilities—welcome new channels into our lives. We have to stop blaming other people for our challenges and take responsibility for the way our lives play out.
Sometimes we have to search for something different, and one important channel change involves looking inward for happiness, instead of looking to others to create our joy. Ultimately, someone else can’t make us happy—we have to find it within ourselves.
Maybe your health isn’t what you wish it would be, or you’re struggling financially, or you’ve not been blessed with the gift of love or true friendship. Those are all incredibly challenging paths to walk down.
Maybe relationships haven’t worked out, or your life isn’t as easy as many others. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. I know many people—shining examples of grace in extraordinary circumstances—who create meaningful and important lives (and inspire people like me) in spite of their physical, financial and societal limitations. Please don’t give up. You are valuable, and you do matter.
What if you started with “channel changing” in your home? Steps like creating serenity, and living with less, impact how you live.
What if you change the channel from “This is My Story So Far” to one that starts with now—one where you harness your internal energy and create your destiny?
What if, instead of focusing on what you’re most afraid of, you focus on what you’re most hopeful of, and instead of replaying what you’re worried about, you envision what you have to look forward to?
What if you have a conversation with God about the rest of this life?
What if you choose to believe in the power of positive thinking?
Choose your life.
Change the channel.