“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.
“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Life certainly can feel like it’s all just happening to us, though, can’t it? The washing machine breaks the night before your in-laws visit. You receive a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one. Your husband asks for a divorce. The baby has colic.
Living an intentional life and trying to be your best self doesn’t mean life won’t happen to us. It means we refuse to throw in the towel to the whims of fate.
I haven’t written much lately. For one, I had one of those “life happened” moments last week, when my computer took a crap. This left me to fight for precious time on my son’s laptop to complete deadlines for my editing job. Alright, he didn’t really fight me. Huff loudly, sure, but it is a new (to him) laptop that he bought with money he earned through his summer job.
Moreover, I haven’t felt particularly inspired. It’s the end of summer. I’m trying to keep my children from scratching each other’s eyes out. I’ve backslid on my fitness goals due to thinking “I don’t have to get up early; how about another glass of wine and some popcorn?”
The adult Becca has gone on summer vacation, and left me in charge. Bwah ha ha ha ha!
Apparently, I’m ready for the schedule and forced routine of the school year as much as the children. There’s something about the beginning of a new school or calendar year that feels like someone has hit the reset button.
While there’s no barrier to starting a project on Thursday, it feels better to start on Monday. “First of the _____” feels like the time to make changes. There’s even some science to back this up.
According to research published in Psychology Science, people were more motivated to begin a new goal on a “temporal landmark.” Such events help the brain to distinguish between past actions and new intentions.
Makes sense, right? The researchers dubbed it the “fresh start effect.”
None of that may be news to you. Even if you didn’t know there was research out there, you likely knew that you start new things on Mondays or New Year’s Day.
Here’s the exciting part.
In one study, some participants were told to begin their goal on “the first day of spring,” March 20th. The other group was told simply to start on Thursday, March 20th. Framing the same start date as the first day of something, in this case a season, had a significant impact.
This is great news for those of us who choose to live purposefully, rejecting the lie that happenstances divest us of control over our lives. We don’t have to wait till Jan. 1st to start over and do better.
There are new beginnings all around us if we frame them as such. For me, I have the new school year on the horizon to get out of my summer-time slump.
There are fiscal quarters and moon cycles. Every week has a Monday.
Every day has a day break!
What separates us from those who believe the “greatest lie” is not that we are immune to hardships, frustrations, or set backs. It’s that we know that whether we face a life altering blow or a daily inconvenience, there will be another fresh start.
As surely as the tides rise and fall, day will break, revealing a “first day of.” For every inhale, there is an exhale. For every end, there is a beginning.
At day break, we who warrior on get up and put one foot in front of the other. If we falter when the starting pistol fires, we find another starting line.
What may appear to be fate taking control can be a new beginning if you make it thus. Keep finding fresh starts and the world’s greatest lie will be another’s to believe.