How often we say the words “always” and “never” when we speak about events or experiences with people in our lives. Quite a lot, right?
How many times have you heard someone blurt out, “I will never speak to (this or that person) again,” or, “I’ll never go to (this or that) restaurant again.”
Or, “I always go here every year for a vacation,” or, “I always get my coffee every morning at this cafe. That’s my regular haunt.”
In lives filled with uncertainties, it’s understandable that we cling to our “always” and “never” statements. We are unconsciously seeking guarantees — some security in an unpredictable world. A sense of control over our lives.
But what might it feel like to step out of the “always and never” language just a little, by introducing the word “sometimes.”
Living our daily lives with the word “sometimes” in our emotional vocabulary lets us relax our need for certainty. It takes the pressure off us more than we realize.
In the world of “always” and “never” we’re prone to feeling let down. Experiencing a sense of loss when the outside world fails to measure up. Sometimes, our need for “always” leads to pain and depression.
Incorporating new language into our lives often requires risk, especially if you are one of the “always” and never-inclined people. This requires facing the reality that life is fallible, life is uncertain. There is, however, an upside to this.
Good and wonderful things can and do happen. Life is not always bad; not always good — sometimes it’s a bit of both.
An example of challenging the “always” position was beautifully expressed to me by a friend who told me a few years ago that she “never” went out for New Year’s Eve as she preferred to watch the celebrations from the comfort of home.
One particular New Year’s Eve she, reluctantly, was persuaded by her daughter to join her in watching the ball drop in Times Square. Her daughter’s boyfriend came along and unexpectedly brought his father. When my friend and the dad met, a whole new and different type of celebration began — the start of what would later become wedding bells.
Needless to say, my friend’s philosophy of “never” going out on New Year’s Eve became the catalyst for changing her view of the “always” and “never” in life.
Taking the need for perceived certainty out of our lives offers us the chance to live with more spontaneity, flexibility and creativity. To live a life with greater curiosity. A life infused with the desire to discover more, in which the acquisition of knowledge has no finite end and experiences lead to other experiences.
Of course there are things in life of which we must be certain. Clocks, for example. But there are times when living in the world of “sometimes” brings relief, rewards and a greater sense of happiness — in the most delightful and unexpected ways.