Last weekend, Mr. Wonderful and I were on the bike. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and as the wind whipped past my helmet, it was as if it pulled all the worry and stress out of my head and flung it onto the road behind us.
I don’t know if you know this about me or not, but I kind of expect a lot out of myself. (And by kind of, I mean I absolutely, 10000% expect a lot out of myself.) It’s really easy for me to focus so much on where I want to end up, that I forget to appreciate where I am.
I think we all do that from time to time, don’t you?
For example, as a parent, I want my kids to be happy, well-adjusted, functional members of society. Who doesn’t, right? But I can get so worried about who my kids might be, or should be, or will be, that I forget to see who they are.
And you know what? Watching them play together, cooperating, laughing, building huge Lego castles and immense imaginary worlds, I think I have to say that my kids are happy, well-adjusted, and functional.
So, why do I worry so much about helping them become what they already are?
Sure, I want to continue to guide them – especially as we near the teenage years with Lady Chatterbox – but do I really need to waste so much time being tense and worried about their development? I think the answer is probably ‘no.’ I mean, I’ve given myself upset stomachs and stress headaches worrying about my kids who are, essentially, just fine. Doesn’t that seem a little crazy?
In fact, I think the majority of the stress we carry around with us is … well … pointless. I know that I can get so caught up in what I want to do, what I want to have happen, that I totally forget to appreciate where I am.
Sure, sometimes where I am is in my living room, surrounded by an explosion of toys and pillows, trapped under a mountain of dogs and kids. At that point, what I want is to clean up the living room. But if all I focus on is getting that living room clean, I miss out on the fact that where I am is in a warm pile of people and animals that love and need me.
And isn’t that a pretty fantastic place to be?
When I was teaching dance, I spent a lot of time researching the psychology behind developing young artists and athletes. I stumbled across an article about a tennis player – years ago, sorry I can’t link to it – who was wickedly talented, driven, hard working, and pretty much won every match he played. He was on the fast track to success until, suddenly, he wasn’t. He started losing. His form slipped. He started losing some more.
His parents took him to a therapist who was familiar with working with athletes and it came out that the guy had changed the way he spoke to himself about his matches. Instead of saying: “I can win this,” he started saying: “I MUST win this.” Instead of saying, “I’m going to practice,” he started saying: “I HAVE to practice.” All of his self-talk switched from statements using ‘can’ and ‘will’ and ‘love,’ to statements using ‘must’ and ‘should’ and ‘need.’
In essence, those words popped him out of a place of positivity and into a really negative head space. Once the tennis player was able to change his self-talk, he stopped putting so much pressure on himself, lowered his stress levels, and started having fun.
And he started winning again.
So my thought for the day is this:
Slow down. Look around. Appreciate where you are. Everything in this life is about perspective.