Processing Your Baggage

In the later years of Walt Disney’s life, he actively worked on his vision for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). His intention was to build a complete city of the future – a place for people to live and work in harmony. His designs included a central downtown hub with skyscrapers, Monorails and People Movers for transportation, houses for people to live in, entertainment centers, parks, waste management, and more. It was a big picture vision that he’d been working on for many years, including a deep study of urban planning.

When Walt died his EPCOT vision unfortunately died with him. No one else was willing and able to carry it forward. The real Epcot Center that was built in Orlando after Walt’s death would barely qualify as a shadow of what Walt actually wanted to build. His vision was much grander than another theme park.

What killed this dream? The answer is smoking.

Walt was a heavy smoker and had some serious health issues because of it, including lung cancer. Even as his health and energy were declining, he kept trying to work on this project, but his long-term habit of smoking got the better of him and cut his vision to shreds. He passed away in 1966 at the age of 65, not long after having a lung removed. At least he was able to say goodbye to the people he cared about.

Walt largely hid his smoking habit from the public, not allowing himself to be filmed or photographed smoking. He tried to quit of course but didn’t succeed, and in the end this nasty habit took him down.

Imagine what he could have done with an extra 10 or 20 years. The utopian city of tomorrow might actually have been built, at least the 1960s version of it. That could have created many interesting ripples.

Some forms of baggage can not only slow you down but can kill your dreams. It’s better to release this baggage while you can instead of dragging it into you future, year after year and decade after decade.

What’s your current baggage? Is there some nasty habit or inner demon that’s been burdening you? What happens if you carry it forward for the rest of your life? Even if it doesn’t damage your health, does it have the potential to crush your dreams?

We often hate to slow down and deal with our baggage, but sometimes that’s the intelligent choice. Imagine if Walt took a couple of years to put other aspects of life on pause and to do whatever it took to quit smoking when he was younger. Perhaps he could have retained two healthy lungs and spent an extra decade or more working on his biggest dreams.

With the current virus situation, there’s been a chance to slow down many aspects of life. For many people this is a good time to process and clear out old baggage, so we can release what no longer serves us.

Your baggage might be bad habit, but it could just as well be something else – a misaligned job, a misaligned relationship, a misaligned social circle, etc. What’s creating the most drag in your life when you try to advance towards your goals? What do you think would happen if you finally released it?

Processing your baggage won’t be easy, but admitting the truth that you absolutely must deal with it is a good step. Embracing and accepting the truth puts you on a path to greater freedom. Even when that’s difficult, don’t revert to denial. Just keep facing the daunting challenge.

Walt could have quit smoking. Many other people have done so. He didn’t make that enough of a priority in his life though. He didn’t do what was necessary to process that baggage.

Whatever is dragging you down is most likely a solvable problem, especially if many other people have already overcome similar burdens. It’s good to remind yourself of that often. Your problems have solutions. Your baggage doesn’t have to be permanent. Other people have processed and released similar baggage. And so can you.

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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