Don’t forget that stress and complaining are choices. Complaining is a form of denying reality*. It also makes you sound like a victim. You don’t want that, do you?
Below are my drawings for today. They are incomplete. I helped my daughter learn how to drive today. Someone honked at her loudly as she paused at the red light, uncertain if she should go or not. She got stressed. And then we went out to help her buy her boyfriend a birthday gift. She worried it wasn’t enough. I assured her that her thoughtfulness in choosing the gifts was what really counted.
I am now at my other daughter’s high school concert. When all is said and done, I will have been here with her for six hours. I didn’t get to complete my drawing or get my workout in or get any holiday shopping done. Oh well. But I did get to have a wonderful lunch with her between two concerts and talk about everything she wanted to share with me. We ate and talked and ate and talked and then we had enough time to buy makeup from Target before going back for her final performance.
It’s all good. I’m grateful I can do these things – be completely present for each of my daughters…and be completely present while I draw my funny-looking lizards.
Georgia O’Keefe was a great lover of flowers. She believed that looking into a flower, you were in a new world and she wanted everyone to have that experience. But alas, she knew too many people were in a constant state of hurry. Wouldn’t this world be a better place if more people stopped to admire flowers?
Student Council member: “We didn’t get out Student Council t-shirts in time for Club Picture Day?”
Me: “No, they haven’t arrived.”
StuCo member: “Wow. That’s a problem. That’s a real issue.”
Me: “No, it’s not. We’ll get them when we get them. We will take our pictures wearing what we’re wearing and smile. It is what it is.”
At first blush, this sounds like a negative and cold response. But diving deeper, you can see that “It is what it is” is actually a great way to deflect negativity. Why stew about something that we cannot help? Why feel bad and see “no t-shirts” as a problem? There is no solution except to accept it, happily.
This doesn’t apply to areas where there might be a solution of course. I am a proponent of seeking creative solutions to any and all problems. But in cases where there is nothing to be done, why fret?
I was ten and at a slumber party. My parents rarely ever let me spend the night at a friend’s house, so I was thrilled. We had pizza and a pillow fight. As it got late, one of my friends put a large paper boat on top of her head. It looked like a Vietnamese rice paddy farmer hat – a coolie.
She bowed and said,”Ah so!” Everyone laughed. They thought it was funny. I got angry. I was the only Asian girl there.
Now, decades later, I know that anger is a symptom of sadness and pain. I was hurt because what she did made me feel like an outsider, I felt different from them. But did she mean to do that? No. The pain I felt is what I caused because I assumed (at first) that she was being malicious, but she wasn’t. I projected my feelings and beliefs on her.
If you are suffering (worried, angry, sad, insecure, jealous, etc.), you are causing yourself pain. You are choosing it. I know it sounds over-simplified and not entirely true, but it is. Mental illness aside, if you’re wallowing in self-pity or proud to be a road rager, you’re choosing it.