Just Do That One Thing

With shorter days, the changing of the leaves and October ready to start, I think that we all start thinking about how fast this year has gone. When I look at how fast time flies and how fast we all move and think, it brings me to a speech which asks “What is that one thing that you should do?”


Last fall, our priest used an exhausted prophet who was visited by an angel who told him just to eat and drink tonight – just do this. And he did. He woke up the next morning and headed out on his mission. What followed was hard and difficult and the priest pointed out that the angel didn’t say, “Do this one thing to get yourself ready for the hard thing that is coming your way.” The angel just said do that one thing – in the moment before you.

“Just do that one thing.” Father Phillip Tracy

This has stuck with me. I’m a counselor and I’ve used it with my many overwhelmed clients who are making big changes in their lives or are in crisis. What is that one thing that that day, that night or the next day? What is the one thing that you will do that will help your life be richer, that will improve your overall wellbeing or help you just get through that day?


When I pose this to clients, I find that they think way too big and before they know it they are making a to-do list which is not what this is about – in fact it is the opposite. I’ve been trying it out since that homily and these are some of the examples that I have found. If I am exhausted, I need to go to bed early and get a good night's sleep. If I am feeling disconnected from my husband (which is the most important relationship in my life), I need to tell him that I need for us to spend the day together - as in all day. If I am feeling like I’m not focusing on what is important, I need to figure that one thing that day that is possible given what I have available to me. If my mind is too scattered to make sense of what is what, I may need to go write in my journal to try to lasso those thoughts into something manageable. If I’m worried about money, I need to check the balance in my checking account, know where I stand and get a plan. If my kids and my grandson come to visit, that one thing is getting the construction paper out to make bunting flags while we talk about the stuff that matters to eight-year-old boys. If I am feeling overwhelmed by the news, I change the settings on my computer to not flash the news every time I open up my browser and take some steps to limit what I take in. If I am completely overwhelmed, it is time to sit quietly and pray. It may be time to bake some banana bread which has a predictable result which makes sense and it tastes and smells really good. It is likely time to throw the ball repeatedly to our pup or take her for a walk rather than clean the bathroom.


It is so easy to look for a panacea to fix it all. When my Mom buys a purse, she believes that this is THE purse that will change her life. As a result, she has a closetful. When I buy a new kitchen appliance or develop a new time management system, I am sure of the same. But this is really it - I’m convinced that this is the way to live a good life. When I am unsettled, I stop and ask “What is that one thing that I should do?” But I have to ask the question to get to the right answer.


These are my “one things.” Yours will be different. What are they?


By Theressa Harrigan