Monday, April 30, 2012

Your Own Best Friend: Do Yourself a Favor


I read a quote this morning that has been ruminating in my head throughout the day: "Do something today for which your future self will thank you." I'm like a lot of people-- I have a great deal of trouble doing things if the payoff is only for me. There are so many people in my life (whom I love dearly) that have legitimate ownership of my time and resources. No matter how logical it is that I 'take care of myself for them,' there have been few moments in the passing years that have lent themselves to self-interest; in every choice, there is always an option that better serves others in the moment than it would myself. Additionally, the logic of the long-term is frequently buried in the urgency of the now.

This little quote did something to help me break that cycle. It tricked my psyche into picturing 'Me' as more than one individual. There's a Past Me, a Now Me, and a Future Me. And as I have no problem pulling out the stops for somebody else, it seems pretty reasonable that Now Me would make an effort on benevolent behalf of Future Me. After all, what she has waiting for her is whatever Now Me drops into her lap when the time comes. So how fair do I want to be to her? If I were waiting in tomorrow, knowing that whatever tools, skills, and baggage I was to begin with that day would be handed to me from somebody else, what would I hope to have delivered into my hands? Would Now Me be cruel or kind?

Past Me has not always been kind. Past Me has made sacrifices for the moment that delivered a heavier burden to the me of today. Whatever level of 'best friendship' Past Me had to give certainly did not go to Now Me. Not only has this put my todays in peril, but it's caused me to resent a part of myself-- the 'yesterday' part that left me weighted, tired, and vulnerable in the present.

I must note that this post has nothing to do with bubble baths or nights out. While there are lovely treats in life, they are rarely the things that make a better tomorrow for the me (or you) waiting there. A true gift to self may be a duty fulfilled in advance, a start on a project long overdue, a promise kept in a new habit (of exercise, scripture study, daily housework, etc.) A gift to Future You may be a day of conscious kindness to your family, a good night's sleep, a day of honest labor, an effort to completely spend yourself in a worthwhile endeavor or act of selfless service.

When tomorrow comes, imagine how Future You will feel if, instead of unloading your arms full of troubles and shrugging your shoulders in disappointment, you could deliver a precious package with the tenderness of a parent sharing a loved baby. "I did my best for you yesterday. I made you wiser, more patient, better organized, less selfish. I gave you a head start on the drudgeries of life. I advanced your talents, I made existence more fruitful, I behaved with grace, I was brave, I was a good example to the people you treasure. I served the Lord and I honored your promises. It was only one day, but we are one day better."

Every day cannot be so blessed! But imagine how bearable the hard times would be if Now You were a little kinder, a little more aware of the you that's waiting just on the other side of tonight. Do yourself a favor! Even if it's just one. You'll thank yourself.