If we continue to think the same thoughts over and over we will continue to find ourselves mired.

Letting go of present and past upsets is easy, right? How were your holidays? Did you pick up new upsets or grievances to add to the collection? Letting go of them is easy, if only we will do it. Why don't we?

Someone said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we continue to think the same thoughts over and over we will continue to find ourselves mired. But, if we change those thoughts ... hallelujah! Why not become as adept at dropping the offenses and thoughts as we are in acquiring them?

Changing our minds is the solution. Like the scarecrow, who didn't have a brain, said to Dorothy, "The best place to start is at the beginning." Many spiritual paths encourage us to begin each day with an affirmation or a positive thought. Each morning upon awakening, ask yourself: "What kind of a day do I want? How do I want to feel no matter what happens to me or someone else?"

You may have heard the story of the two friends who, as they walked to work each day, one of them would stop to buy a newspaper from the same rude vendor. "Why do you buy a paper from him when he is always rude to you?" The friend replied, "I don't give him or anyone the power to take my peace away. How he treats me does not determine how I will treat him."

If we start the day with the intention of not giving our power away by letting incidents upset us, at least we know what we want.

We have these invisible buttons on our chest. Some buttons may be more sensitive than others, but remember, you are the one who decides what is sensitive and you have your finger on the trigger. We call them our pet peeves. They are our pets because we like them. We like getting upset. We are choosing it. You can list them and rank them from slightly annoying to downright repulsive. You are the judge and your judgment comes from past experiences. The past is where the buttons were created.

Write down your response to the question "What kind of a day do I want?" and tape it your bathroom mirror. Each morning as you get ready for the day, read your statement to help start the day. Maybe make an extra copy to carry in your pocket or place in other areas such as the telephone, refrigerator, car or kitchen counter. As you go through the day, make a point of being aware when you change your thoughts and remember your intention. If you keep a journal, give yourself a star every time you changed your mind when buttons were pushed. If you reacted, do not beat yourself up. You just made a mistake, that's all. You could even mark an "x" on your bathroom reminder and give yourself credit when you noticed a button reaction but changed your mind. You are now gaining control from automatic ego re-active responses and beginning conscious living.

The more you do it the stronger you will become and more and more peace will be yours. Yes, buttons will be pushed, but your change of mind and feelings about them will be less intense. The buttons will be noticed but you have given them the brushoff. That is freedom.

Be kind to yourself when something triggers your memory, the floodgate holding back resentment opens and emotions and thoughts flow freely. These buttons from the past still are lurking about. How do you feel? Remember, your reminder is in your pocket. Ask yourself: "Do I want to live in the past and give my power away?" A memory from the past can and will take your peace away, but it is up to you to stop it. Is the memory helpful? If not, then let it rest in peace and you will, too. Forgiveness is freedom when you remember it is for giving your self the peace you want.

Sally McKirgan lives in Ashland and facilitates a weekly study group of the spiritual book, "A Course In Miracles." For more information e-mail innerpeaceforyou@live.com