Appreciate life even if it’s not perfect. Happiness is not fulfillment of what we wish for but an appreciation of what we have.

Unless my reader has clear roots with Germany, this seldom seen word in today’s title may be foreign to you. Gestalt is a German word that translates roughly to “the whole thing.” In other words, it says, “The whole is equal to more than the sum of its parts.” For example, those who look forward to the annual celebration of professional football, The Super Bowl, anticipate more than a 60-minute contest between two successful teams. The event includes parties, debates on the merits of the game’s novel commercials, and either serious or casual wagers on the outcome. That’s the Super Bowl gestalt. Individuals who enjoy shopping understand that this activity involves more than paying for new goods. The journey to the mall, striding expectantly past myriad numbers of storefronts, and trying on that new dress or sport coat are all part of the fun facets of the shopping gestalt. In the 21st century, the shopping gestalt has perhaps shrunken down to catalog surfing or Internet gaping. No matter, the concept of a gestalt is rather easily understood.

We may grasp the concept of a “football” or “shopping” gestalt, but how can my life be a gestalt? Before we explore that idea, however, let’s consider another facet of the word and its principle. Consider “Christmas” as a gestalt. What images come to mind with that term? While we understand that Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus, most of our images include gift- giving, Santa Claus, and seasonal decorations. Remove those elements and Christmas, for better or worse, becomes far less for most of us.

But today’s piece is about your life. Your life is, in fact, your gestalt. It is everything that has happened to you, from womb to approaching tomb. To gain self-understanding, the individual must factor in all of our life’s experiences: the joys and the sorrows, as well as exhilaration of success and the sting of failure.

Yet how many of us engage in the truly silly exercise of examining our lives by wishing to change certain choices, events, or decisions while leaving others untouched or unaffected. A woman might say, “I love my spouse and value my children, but my career would have gone much better if I’d attended College X rather than College Y.” Or, “If I’d changed jobs rather than keeping the one I had, I’d be richer, (or happier, or more secure) than I am.”

Hello!!!! You met your mate at X! He didn’t go to school Y. Those kids that you adore wouldn’t exist had you made a different academic decision. And you could have been hit by a bus, or lightning, on your way to that better job. So, stop it!

Playing the “what if” game is self-defeating and. perhaps even worse, self-depressing. Don’t do that to yourself or to the others in your life.

In summary, if you are happy with your current state of affairs, don’t foolishly tinker with it mentally. And if you aren’t pleased with your circumstances today, do something about it. Wasting time with the “what if” or “if only” games is a lazy way to live out one’s life.

Your life is a “gestalt,” but it is a dynamic and amendable one as well. Celebrate its elements or adjust it in the future rather than wistfully live in reverse.

Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Spinelli