We must try to do the best we can

Are you obsessed with the things you should do, or have regrets for things you’ve done or not done? Think about it.

It is so easy to get in the habit of dwelling only on the things we should do. We might say a thousand times a day, “I really should ... (you fill in the blanks).” I am as guilty as the next person as I know there are things I really should do and fail to do in a timely manner. I know I need to call my friends and family more often to check on them. I should send cards to more people on special occasions. I should keep better track of things around the house. But the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions.

We all should eat healthy diets and exercise more. We ought to take control of our health and lifestyle. But do we? We talk about it a lot but many of us do little. Just remember,” Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me!” We start out a new year with the best intentions but by February or March, we have lost interest and our plan fizzles out. Our oughts often turn to naughts!

Beyond all the things we should do and need to do are the regrets we have over failure to take control of our lives. I regret that I don’t have more time to keep things done, or regret that I don’t use my time more wisely. I regret that I have let things get out of hand. I regret that I have not kept up with relatives and friends like I should, and want to. Some of us beat ourselves up over decisions we made long ago, but we made the best decisions with the information we had at that time, and it does no good to look back and try to undo what is done. Grandma always said “Never look back except for inspiration.”

The little ranch land that I own in Pawnee County was purchased by my grandpa from a couple who had settled in Indian Territory. After two years trying, for some reason, whether sickness, unable to find water or loneliness, they were unable to “improve” their allotment and went back to where they came from. When we were clearing some trees and rerouting a creek that went through the place, we found a pear tree and the foundation of a house that was no bigger than one small room. They had apparently tried very hard to succeed but finally decided it was not worth the effort. So Grandpa bought the land from them so they could go “home.” That has always made me sad that they tried so hard and still had regrets and had to turn back. It must have been a very difficult and sad decision to turn back, giving up on their dreams of a new, exciting home. Sometimes we just have to rethink our decision and do what is best for all with no regrets or qualms.

My physician is very wise and gives very good advice. Once she told me to remind myself “It’s OK.” It is! I no longer kick myself for not doing everything just like it should be done. If I don’t get all my phone calling done, it is OK. If the house doesn’t get swept today it is OK. If we have to eat leftovers out of the freezer it is OK. If the dog doesn’t get his bath every Thursday, it is OK. Life goes on. I refuse to spend my life worrying about what could have been or should have been. I say “it’s OK” several times a day and mean it. My life is much happier and runs much more smoothly.

Someone much wiser than I am penned this prose about regrets: “You will never be sorry, for thinking before acting, for hearing before judging, for forgiving your enemies, for being candid and frank, for helping a fallen brother, for being honest in business, for thinking before speaking, for being loyal to God and the church, for standing by your principles, for refusing to participate in gossip, for holding your words when tempted to demean another, for not entertaining impure or hateful thoughts, for sympathizing with the afflicted, for being courteous and kind to all.”

We can spend our days chastising ourselves for all the times we fail to do everything right but that would do no good. It is much better to do what we can and tell ourselves it is OK and that we are not perfect. We can be persistent and try without being perfect. And we are much happier that way. See failure as a beginning, not the end.

A good philosophy to live by is to relax, enjoy, do things because we want to and will enjoy doing them, not because of someone’s idea that it should be done. Just do our best.

I always preach “think about it,” but there comes a time when we should stop thinking and just do it. We just need to add action! Most of the jobs we dread are not difficult but we just hate the mess or can’t seem to get started or the “Spirit” just hasn’t moved us. We procrastinate, have excuse after excuse, blame company, or the weather or most anything to keep from starting a job. Once we are organized and start the job, it is easy and fun. And regrets disappear.

To enjoy a happy life, one must have a purpose. We should make every day count for something. We should teach others what we know. I guess that is why I have so much fun teaching “Life Lessons” to the sixth-graders at Hillsdale Christian School. It is just simple things I have learned in my lifetime by experience on this wonderful earth. I feel an obligation to pass on what I have been carefully taught. That may also be the reason I enjoy writing this column each week. I feel a need to share my philosophy for happiness and staying positive through everything. No matter how many times we say we should do something we have to be responsible for our own actions and have no regrets. It is OK!

If you are looking back (as I am) at the pounds you gained since the pandemic started and wondering if all those sweets and snacks and nervous eating will ever end, then you might enjoy this easy recipe, especially since squash season is here.

Quick Squash Casserole

8 yellow squash, sliced

2 onions, chopped

1/2 stick butter

8 ounces cream cheese

Picante sauce and salt to taste

Microwave squash and onion in two tablespoons of water until onion is tender Drain if necessary. Melt cream cheese and butter in microwave. Stir in picante sauce and salt to taste. Mix all together. Enjoy like it is, or place in a casserole, top with a little cheddar cheese and bake until cheese melts.

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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