Salvation in a Jingle
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2017
As much as we want life to be simple, it is not. There are simple laws; but numerous objects subject to those laws. We need more than a simplistic motto to survive.
We look for truth in a jingle. A quick phrase that feels good. We continuously hunt for a magical ointment to soothe. We are distracted by grand promises of greatness, requiring little but offering the world. Raised by the half-hour sitcom, thirty-minutes problem solving, we seek the same. But simple solutions don’t work in the real world. Many problems take weeks, months or even years to resolve. Perhaps some irritants are relieved by removing a single thorn—but most discomforts stem from more, requiring multiple treatments, and prolonged recovery. The felt experience has a variety of factors; not readily resolved—or even known. A simple jingle may offer momentary hope, but the catchy rhyme doesn’t replace constructive work.
Science supports the effectiveness of positive mantras. Pondering positive mantras isn’t straight bunk. But a positive mantra—by itself—isn’t enough. Good feelings inspired by a rhyme relieves anxiety, but some anxiety is necessary for planning and motivation. Dismissing all anxiety, we may find along with the worries also goes our motivation to change. No Worries, Be Happy. But bills still need to be paid, lawns mowed, and spouses loved. Long-lasting changes require more than positive thoughts. Real work is required.
We must courageously fight through impulses to brightly paint our lives with glee missing the bland colors needed to succeed at establishing new behaviors, persisting through the rough periods of trial and error. We must awkwardly stumble through uncomfortable changes during the weeks, months and years of developing new habits while abandoning old ones. As we travel, new insights emerge, new adjustments must be made, and unforeseen difficulties will arise. New practices initially require constant attention but with repetition become automatic; freeing resources to address other changes. If a jingle motivates during these processes, then whistle away.
We can blow to and from wherever the wind blows, not worrying about tomorrows. I prefer directed change, attending to our lives. Our lives are perfectly imperfect. Imperfections may discourage, and that is perfectly okay, just keep going, curiously examining life. Our personal tower of Babel will never reach the heavens. The construction is never completed. But each new window adds light, each door adds accessibility, and each floor adds perspective.
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