Looking out for a better outlook.

Have you ever sat down and thought about your personal goals? The short term ones, long term ones, the life ones? I find myself doing that on a constant basis–I feel like I have a good grasp of where I’m going and where I want to end up.

Never works out that way, huh? I cannot begin to tell you how often plans get changed, or life throws you a curve ball. “I will get this work done by Wednesday.”…then Saturday rolls around, and it is finally completed. “OMG, I am so gonna marry this guy.”…then three months later you’re perusing the online dating ads. “I will make time for myself.” …and then you realize, you’ve been playing catch-up, or trying to keep up with friends and family, or school, or work until that point that you finally get “me” time that you just want a nap (or the next wave of crazy heads your way).

I think the majority of my problem is procrastination (maybe that’s why I am blogging, instead of learning GI meds). I’ve had to instate the “I’m gonna study for 15 min before I read CNN, or facebook, or go run, or whatever.” It works sometimes. And other times, I am fine for hours, engrossed in the fascinating field I have placed myself in. My study focus is, a majority of the time, the former, however. Studying begins, and I need to grab a snack, or fold clothes, or run 3 miles, or go to the bar…and, later, all of sudden this wave of guilt overcomes me and I feel terrible…so terrible that I turn on the TV… does this ring true to any of you? 🙂

But whatever! Life is too short to worry about the stuff we haven’t done, right? It will all work out in the end. We need to focus on what’s around us, right in front of, so we don’t miss out…which leads me to today’s blog.

Observation. We use it everyday in medicine. What we see, hear, feel, touch, and even smell. It goes deeper when we get “the vibe” or “aura” of someone. We use in in our everyday lives, too. Is our best friend mad at us? Is the coffee barista flirting? Why does the dog look guilty? We process and evaluate, review and conclude in seconds, sometimes without even knowing we are doing it. Sometimes we ignore what we observe, other times it eats at us until we mull it over and over. Our personalities can be shaped by how we process the outside world…and sometimes context is everything.

We have become a world, however, that focuses on ourselves, or getting the job done, or like I was typing about earlier, where we set all these goals and never once stop to “smell the roses.” We are always living for tomorrow, overlooking what we have today. We worry about losing what we have, instead of seeing and valuing that which we already possess. We don’t listen to those around us because our own outlook is the only one that matters, or our cares are more valuable than theirs. We never want someone to get the one-up on us, so we constantly trek on, keeping ourselves guarded and on task.

I took an Art of Observation class last semester where we were taught that an average museum patron spends only five seconds at a work of art. Five seconds. How can we see works of art for their beauty, purpose, intent, and creativity in less time than we take to tie our shoes? Now apply that to your life. How long do you treasure your friends, you family, your partner (and I mean seriously appreciate the enrichment they add to your lives)? Do you try to return it? Do you even let people in? How often do you pause to revel at an act of kindness, or nature, or something beautiful? How often do you just stop to think? We go and go and go (and I am perfectly guilty of this), sometimes forgetting that the purpose of life is to live–in the here and now, not the future that may or may not be there.

I’m making a promise to myself to appreciate the present, and the amazing things that God has placed in and around my life. Is it harder to do as a medical student? Maybe. But I only have one life to live, and I’m going to make it grand (that’s such a fancy word 🙂 ) I have too much to be thankful for and too much to see/do/observe than to throw it away chasing after goals that can be accomplished in addition to embracing the here and now that I am in. And after all, I am pretty good at procrastination, and I control the pace of the race.

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