My New Year’s Mulligan
Michael Buble’ s Feeling Good.
“…It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good …”
Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely
and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
And from the wise Eleanor Roosevelt:
“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
Welcome to 2018! Leave the past in the past. Of course, certain events or situations may continue to exist in our lives, causing strife, however, we can focus our energy on one day at a time. Our lives don’t automatically restart every morning like in Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, but we do get to start each day anew, with the hope of a happier and healthier life.
Even on my worst days, at night laying in bed, I dream of the new day. I try not overthink the day’s toils and troubles. When the new day breaks, there is an opportunity to respond differently to adversity, to ask for help if you become overwhelmed, and to create new pathways toward recovery.
The Game of Golf
As a child, I spent parts of every summer with my grandparents that lived in Northern Michigan. They had retired to a rural area and made friends with a local couple. For many years my grandfather, Bob and his friend Uncle Harold, went golfing weekly. My sister and I accompanied them on many occasions, I wasn’t interested too much in the actual game but I did love being out there with the sun shining, grass greener than I had ever seen plus the big thing was riding in the cart and drinking soda pop. Fast forward about 20 years and I had a friend who golfed. I signed up for golf lessons and got some clubs. She and I got to play rounds of golf that season but unfortunately I slipped a disc in my lower back that summer and didn’t play golf again. But I did become a fan and started watching golfing tournaments and became a Tiger Woods fan.
As I began to think about this piece, I started to see a lot of metaphors in the game of golf relating to how we live our life. My favorite is the chance for a mulligan. Although not legal in a golf game, many players, especially when playing with a young or inexperienced player allow a chance to perform a shot again without penalty when the previous attempt was done poorly. In real life, our chance for this do-over may not occur immediately, as in golf. However, we have our tomorrows and our next years. Another comparison involves having a short memory both in golf and in life. When you have gone out and had a terrible golf game, to be able to be in the right mindset, you have to throw away the scorecard and start anew. If you take the negativity into the next game, it messes with your mind, body language and clouds your present-day experience.
The following article describes the comparisons between golf and life in an interesting way:
All good golf swings start with a setup or preparation for an optimal swing. If you just swing at the ball with no proper set up, you will have no consistency and get very frustrated.
And in life, you need a good set up. A good preparation, and ready position for what you are trying to accomplish
Presence in golf means to be in the moment, to be focused on the now and not worried about the last shot, the dinner plans, the hazard that is ahead or thinking about anything else than hitting the ball with a good connection to the club face
Presence in life creates the same kind of outcome as presence in golf, assuming you have certain skills, and are practicing to improve, you need to be focused on the present moment in times of strategic goals.
Back swing, impact point and follow through (past, present, future)
A good rhythmic golf swing (for amateurs especially) requires that you understand the swing begins with the set up, followed by the back swing, setting up the downswing for impact on the ball, and the crucial piece that many amateur golfers forget is the follow through after impact. In other words, the ball strike is in the MIDDLE of the swing…. impacting the ball is the halfway point from the back swing, and then downward swing with a complete follow through. The ball goes farther, toward your target, with less effort if you realize this point.
And just as in life, we have to have a back swing (our past and our set up, the downswing toward impact, and the follow through to completion of our task or goal).
Flow in golf is when things are going smoothly and you are almost unconscious in play and hence doing well, by not trying so hard. This is also true in life…. discover a flow state whenever you can for tasks or goals you deem important.
Aim (Purpose) – Have plans but adjust to challenges
You must aim the swing to your intended target in golf. Even though it does not always go where you aim, you learn to make adjustments, or just to enjoy the serendipity of an unexpected outcome … just like in life? Many people fire first in their actions, without really aiming or preparing in the first place. The idea is Ready, Aim, Fire … not Ready, Fire, Aim.
Humor, lightness of being
It definitely takes a sense of humor and lightness of being to play golf…If you get mad, or frustrated, you get worse. It is a challenging game and one that if you swing harder, the result is usually worse. Counter-intuitive as that may be, similarly to life’s challenges, start with an aim to your target. But know that unexpected results will occur, both wanted and unwanted. But lighten up…its just a game.
Hit it where it lies (Don’t lie about where you hit it)
Most amateurs move the ball in golf to improve how or where the ball lies…. and if you are not in a tournament then do it and either take a penalty or just play for fun…But if you are playing with the rules of golf, hit it where it lies and play within the rules. This is like ethics in life and business. You can predict a lot about a golfer who cheats or lies and how he may behave in life off the course. Penalties are just mistakes…. HONESTY in the face of mistakes…. now that is a way to live and play.”
What This All Means
I am currently experiencing symptoms of both depression and anxiety and I have difficult days that I cannot wait to be over. On my path of recovery, each new day may bring more difficulties for me to work through. What can I do? I can wake up and face the new day with strength and integrity. I can seek out help from professionals and learn new strategies. I also can remember that I am not a failure unless I give up. Tomorrow will always be a new day. It will provide opportunities for growth and do-overs or mulligans. In life, unlike golf, I can take many many mulligans.
Hearing stories of those near failures turned into success gives me hope! An enlightening example of the power of the New Day philosophy involves Thomas Edison.
“On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Machinery worth millions and all the papers pertaining to his lifelong research were burnt to ashes. Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” Thomas Edison’s persistence was exemplified in his famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
In 2018, I resolve to take the opportunity of mulligans and give myself less criticism for my mistakes. I will accept non-perfection from my self and from others. Learning how to forgive myself and to forgive those who hurt me will be my mantra. Good luck to all of you who choose to live more fully in the glorious new year ahead.