Your attitude is a choice
Once, when I was going through a difficult time and didn’t know what direction life would take me, I was told by an acquaintance who had been through a similar rough patch that if you worry and then suffer, you suffer twice. But, if you don’t worry (and just believe) and still suffer in some way, you would only suffer once.
Newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck gave similar advice about worrying:
As a person who often measures value based on productivity and how many to-do items I cross off my list and as person who would like to suffer once and ideally not suffer at all, the act of worrying just isn’t for me. Rather, I choose to believe that there is a lesson to be learned or a bigger plan to be followed. I choose to be positive.
My mom struggles with worrying. It’s tough to judge her for this since she lost her first husband from leukemia and had an unfinished house and four children under 10 to care for. She struggled financially as a widow and had to figure out how to move on. She later married my dad and added my sister and I to the mix so had 6 children to worry about from our broken bones, to high risk pregnancies, and broken marriages. Sadly, she buried both her parents and two of her siblings. And, in 2014, she said goodbye to my dad and moved from her dream house on the ocean into an assisted living community in the suburbs. Some worry and anxiety is normal, but excessive worry and anxiety can be paralyzing.
Watching mom worry is draining. Combine worry with a part-time hobby of complaining and it can be a frustrating visit. I want to help resolve mom’s problem(s). My approach when I have felt like her is to do something to either directly change the situation or learn all I can from the experience. I’m a work in progress and definitely worry and complain from time to time. I’ve struggled with anxiety before but am now equipped to know that I don’t have to feel like this and have taken measures to cope and change. When worry, complaining, and anxiety all meet up, I call this whirlwind storm ‘spiraling’ which usually has a negative outcome.
Our new normal
Like many of you, I’m on a quest to find my ‘new normal’. Truth is, our sandwiched way of life is becoming the new normal. According to Pew Research Center, almost half of adults in their 40’s and 50’s have a parent over the age of 65 and are either raising their young children or financially supporting a grown child. As the life expectancy continues to be longer, I’m certain that ‘sandwichers’ will be as common as a pb&j.
For now a sandwiched life is ‘our life’ and we must learn to accept it and the sooner the better. Accept it doesn’t have to mean we must endure it exactly as it was originally dealt to us. We can tweak, compromise, rearrange, test new strategies, find better support, ask for help, learn healthy ways to cope and take care of ourselves in the process so we don’t become resentful.
Easier said than done, right?! Like choosing to be positive, acceptance is also a choice.
Recently, I have accepted that I’m in a season of life that is crazy busy. Days of nothing to do and relaxing without guilt are a rare gem. The irony is that once I accepted the rapid pace, I found more comfort in the small everyday moments. A hot uninterrupted shower with great water pressure, a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, a glimpse of lightning bugs while walking my dog, a quiet car ride after dropping off the kids at practice, a cup of cappuccino with the perfect foamy top, a happy memory triggered by the perfect song, catching my kids doing something good, or an unexpected family movie night because practice got rained out. I love these peaceful and happy unexpected surprises that appear in the nooks and crannies of my day.
Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Sometimes, I think we give too much power to what we don’t have right now. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of life. One idea to turn the tide is to start a daily gratitude journal. TJ Maxx and Marshall’s have the best journals! Pick one up and simply list out 3 to 5 things you are grateful for each day.
I’ve done this before and it’s a great way to gain a fresh perspective. I know many people have success with meditation. While this is a habit I have tried to implement and have realized some benefits, I haven’t been successful in making meditation a regular practice.
I’ve written before about my podcast addiction. Author Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft have a podcast called ‘Happier’ that is packed with great tips. Another uplifting podcast is by Lewis Howes called ‘The School of Greatness’.
I’m a believer in the law of attraction, meaning what you focus on comes back to you. I dare you to choose to focus on what you can do, what’s right with your world, and stay positive!
The best part about these choices is they are contagious!
Take note of what starts to happen around you when you let your new attitude shine. When mama is happy, everyone is happy