Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does ONE little change really make a difference?

Good Morning!  I was glancing through the  news feed on Facebook early this morning and noticed that someone had updated her profile picture. I liked the picture and proceeded to write a comment telling her that I thought the photo was lovely, only I had a typo and instead of a V, I typed a N.   Had I not noticed the error, my comment would have said, “You look LONELY” rather than “You look Lovely.” Earlier this week an instructor at the college asked me to contact a student who was struggling in his class in an attempt to motivate him to do better. I composed an e-mail and, fortunately,  before I hit “send” I noticed that I had made a simple typo and typed a W instead of a T;  the sentence read, “ Your instructor has informed me that you are now passing the class…….. instead of NOT passing”  As I drank my coffee this morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on these two incidents and thank God for encouraging me on my journey.  What???? You might be wondering…how does a typo relate to her journey?  What is she talking about at 3:30 in the morning?  

One little letter can completely change a sentence. Instead of, “You are LOVELY, my comment would have been, “You are LONELY.”  Big difference in meaning!  Sure, a woman full of self-confidence; one who feels beautiful, secure, empowered and a lot of other positive things may chuckle and recognize a typo right away.  However, one is struggling to lose weight, is burdened by life issues, is having a bad day, is feeling insecure, hopeless, or any other type of negative thoughts could read, “You are lonely” and it could ­cause them pain or hurt if she is indeed, feeling lonely or rejected.  A stretch???? Perhaps, but any of you women who have experienced PMS, any of you that have had a “straw that broke the camel’s back” kind of moment, or one who has ever burst into tears at a comment from a loved one, that on ANY OTHER DAY, would have just been “meaningless words” knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Sometimes…..just ONE…..LITTLE…..THING; just ONE….MORE…..PROBLEM; just ONE…..LITTLE……slight or comment or hurt or rejection or failure or……..can make or break us.  There is a big difference between feeling LOVELY and feeling LONELY.

A student getting an e-mail that reads, “You are NOW passing math” instead of “You are NOT passing…..” may respond differently depending upon his commitment to his studies and how important it is to him to succeed in the class. Telling someone that you are NOT going to attend their party is completely different than telling him/her that you are NOW going to attend.   ONE….LITTLE…..LETTER can change the meaning of a word very quickly.    A simple typo in a sentence could alter the behavior of a reader.

Yesterday during class I was teaching my students about financial literacy. I used the example of a person who buys a latte’ or other specialty drink every morning on the way to school or work.  Spending $4.00 per day on a cup of coffee may not seem like a big deal; after all, it’s only four bucks. They were astounded when I explained that while $4.00 per day didn’t seem like much, purchasing a single latte’ just five days a week, added up to $20.00 per week…….more than $1000.00 per year!  These young people looked at me wide-eyed and in disbelief when I told them that bringing a cup of coffee from home, or treating themselves to a latte’ a few times a week rather than every day, could have a dramatic impact on their bank account over the course of a year.  ONE…..LITTLE…..CHANGE… behavior could mean the difference between having money in the bank or being in debt.

While it is true that my life has changed dramatically over the course of the past few years, this change did not happen overnight.  I didn’t wake up 250+ lighter; I didn’t go from a  size 6X to a 12 in a few months; I didn’t go from the wheelchair to a bicycle in one summer.  It has been a journey of change…. ONE…..LITTLE……CHANGE… a time.  Ironically, while the physical changes are quite obvious; they serve only as a visible reminder of the even bigger….and far more important changes that have taken place: those changes in the mind and heart. God changed my heart and my thoughts…and those changes, in turned, helped me change my behavior.

When I started this journey I was completely addicted to sugar and soda.  I drank a 2-liter bottle of Faygo peach soda every night when I got home from work and two bottles of Mt. Dew each day.  I never once thought about how the soda was impacting my health until I looked at bottle on March 1, 2011 (the day I began my journey) and I quickly calculated how many calories a week I was consuming…..just by drinking soda.  YIKES!  I was drinking more than 7000 EMPTY calories a week….the equivalent to gaining two pounds a week….just by drinking soda. No wonder I was gaining weight when I didn’t feel like I was eating THAT much more than usual. What an eye-opening experience!  How did I not know that?  Truth be known; I probably KNEW how bad soda was for me, but I chose NOT to do anything about it.  And so….at that discovery…..I began to open soda bottles and pour them down the drain. Right then….at that moment….I made ONE….LITTLE….CHANGE…..that has dramatically changed my reality.  Giving up soda completely didn’t come easily. One of these days I’ll share my strategy for breaking the habit.

My journey has consisted of ONE…..LITTLE….CHANGE after another.  First came the transition from soda to flavored water (a process that took several weeks). Switching from eating four eggs or four pieces of toast at a time to three….and then two….were little changes.  Dumping the sugar and replacing it with Splenda (yes, I know artificial sweeteners are not good for me); buying canned fruit in natural juice instead of heavy syrup; switching from white bread to 35-calorie-a slice bread were other little changes. These little changes became a way of life.  Even if you are not ready to commit to a complete life changing journey; are not ready to go “cold turkey” on giving up a habit; are not willing to give up your way of eating, keep in mind that even small changes, done consistently over time, will positively impact your life.

Today, I invite you to think about some little things that you could do….and how it could improve your own life and the lives of those around you.   What would the result be… year from now….. if you:

…………Parked your car on the other end of the parking lot every day at work?   Took the elevator UP the stairs and walked down?  Drank one glass of wine instead of two or three?  Walked to the stop sign at the end of our road every day?  These simple little changes alone could help you lose 10 pounds or more in a year…without much effort.

……………….Said “Thank you…..I’m sorry……You look really nice today……You did a great job….. I really appreciate you….” or any other positive words every day to those you live with or work with. You have no idea how that ONE…..LITTLE…..CHANGE…..will improve your relationships.

………….Replaced a king-size candy bar with a fun size one; two scoops of ice cream with one; regular salad dressing with low fat; or pota­to chips with air-popped popcorn.  Although I don’t recommend it, even eating a “Happy Meal” at a fast-food place rather than a Super-sized one will cut calories. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction!

………Looked at the world with a sense of gratitude for the gift of life and the blessings you’ve been given, rather than focused on the things that are NOT the way you’d like them; on the things that you DON’T have; tried to see the positive/good in people and situations, instead of the negative.

God helped me change my life. He continues to help me change my life…..each and every day…  One THOUGHT…..ONE STEP…..ONE DAY……ONE MEAL at a time.   What is the ONE…..LITTLE…..CHANGE……you can make today that will help you go from LONELY to LOVELY….FROM “you are NOT going to be successful…to you are NOW going to be successful”…..or I “Can’t” to I “CAN.”   You can do it…..I know you can!