Take life one day at a time

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

I have a friend doctor who was doing his residency many years ago at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila and was complaining of the grind of his job.  Residency in a hospital is the on-the-job training for doctors. All aspiring doctors undergo it before they take the board exam.  It’s a tough task because often times they are forced to render a twelve-hour duty almost every day because of the overwhelming number patients needing attention.  My friend doctor was just in his first few days at that time starting his residency and he told me that if he were to think that he still had two years left to undergo this “toxic schedule” as he would call it, he said he would lose his mind.  His mindset to be able to persevere and complete his residency requirement, he told me, was to take it one day at time.  Never think that you still have two years left, just focus on the day in front of you and try to finish it.  Otherwise counting the number of days, weeks and months left will make you think it’s an impossible task.

Regina Brett, author of the best-selling book “God Never Blinks” has the same advise when she  felt anguish with her breast cancer treatment.  Narrating how she arrived at the resolution to live in the present she said, “The treatment wasn’t as bad as my attitude toward it. I suffered because I wasn’t living in the present moment.  I was dwelling on yesterday, counting up all the days that I felt sick.  Then I spent time dreading the future, the next chemotherapy appointment the side effects it would bring, the meals I’d throw up, the fatigue that radiation would invite once chemo is over.  The way through it all was to stop dwelling on what yesterday brought (good or bad) and what tomorrow might bring (good or bad).  The only day worth living was the one I was in.  Those 24 hours were do-able as long as I didn’t drag the past and future into them.  One day of cancer was bearable.”

When we have that tendency to be anxious about the future let’s take it one day at a time. We should be like those horses that pull the carriage that have blinders to make them focus on what is in front of them on the road.  With blinders, they can’t see the side and get scared or distracted.  They can’t see what is going to happen, so they keep putting one hoof in front of the other and keep moving.  The blinders that we put in our mind makes us not look at tomorrow nor at yesterday but just take that step for today.

Taking life one day at a time is derived from the principle that if a task given to us seems too big, try to break it up into small chunks to make it do-able.  When we don’t take it one day at a time, we gather all the possible problems and challenges of tomorrow and bring it to the present.  Of course, we will get overwhelmed. It’s one of the reasons why God made humans unable to see the future.   If we get to view all the difficulties we still have to undergo as well as when and how we will die, we will not live life anymore.

God is not present in the past or future.  The great “I Am” (Exodus 3:14) is in the present moment (not “I Was” or “I Will”).  When we claim that presence, we can get through anything today.  “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has worries of its own.  Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day”. (Matthew 6:34)

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