I’m a cynic. A natural born cynic.
And frankly, I have more than a few things to be concerned about in this world. I’m watching pieces of my youth disappear. I’m feeling the sting of health complications. I’ve watched pieces of my life fall apart and I’ve felt pain in my heart I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
And everything just seems to be so exacerbated right now. Today I felt something I haven’t felt in quite some time. I felt my system shut down from stress. I was nauseous and fatigued and unproductive, and I couldn’t get myself out of bed to do anything with my day.
When the dust settled and I had wasted enough time and was done feeling sorry for myself, I realized a few important things, and I pulled myself up and started my day afresh.
Time to Reset
The first thing I realized was sometimes you need to just push life’s reset button. I had a daunting to-do list, which instead of motivating me to get my day moving, was making it harder. So, I scrapped my list, re-wrote a more manageable one, and told myself today would be over before I knew it. I needed a good night’s sleep, and a large reminder that tomorrow would be a new day. Everything that was weighing on me and harming me would vanish away into nothingness, and I could start over like nothing ever went wrong.
Yesterday’s pains and hardships were just that. Yesterday’s. It’s so easy to dwell. It’s so easy to feel bad for yourself. To look at the crud that marred a different day and treat it as if all of the problems are still there and bringing you down just as much as if they just occurred.
But the problems are only ever-present if you treat them that way. And if you learn to move forward, yesterday’s darkness can just disappear into nothingness.
Perhaps better yet, yesterday’s darkness can be a phenomenal opportunity to learn about yourself. A common refrain in the mixed martial arts world is: “You win, or you learn.” For certain we all prefer winning and the rush of the experience is objectively better for the psyche.
However, if you knock your opponent out in 35 seconds, there is a limit to what you’ll gain from the experience. For certain, there will be a confidence boost, which should never be discounted. But there is still a limit to what can be gained. Imagine the football coach of the winning team going over hours of tape with his team. “You see what you did there? Awesome. Do that again. Lots of times.”
Pats on the back. But no real useable information. You’re great… and tomorrow you’ll be the same great.
Now imagine hours of pointing out the subtle shifts and changes that can take a good team and make them a great one. Or the little maneuver a player could make that will lead them on a path to utter greatness.
Loss into Blessing
And that’s our lives in a nutshell. Some days will be horrendous and have us begging God to know why we even bother. We can treat them like the worst days ever. Or we can accept that days like this will happen on occasion, and turn them into the most fruitful piece of our lives.
So my misstep, my hellish day, is long gone. A piece of my past. A part of my story. But it is so much more than that now. It has transcended its misery and become a fundamental part of my development into the human being I wish to be.
Remember the Blessing
Furthermore, I realized after a day of feeling broken and agitated, that I owed it to myself to actively remember all of the great blessings I have.
I’m not a lover of comparative joy. I’ve always been a huge Dr. Seuss fan, but I’ve never particularly liked his iconic book ‘Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?’ The message is very off-putting. The primary theme seems to be, “Hey, your life isn’t so bad. Look how absolutely crappy these other people have it!”
I don’t think joy should be something we experience in comparison to others. It should be something we feel deep within our soul. The joy comes from within, not from looking at your life in relation to any external source.
Nevertheless, every once in a while I think it’s healthy to stop, take a breath, and put everything into perspective.
Blessings on Top of Blessings
Yes, I only have custody of one of my children. I see my other ones infrequently and had to schlep across the world to make even that possible. But I’ve got four healthy children. There are people who seek children tirelessly, with no results. Others have children with health concerns or other stressors. And I am more than blessed to live with my fantastic, beautiful, brilliant, and creative son, who helps makes every day more fulfilling than the one before.
I’ve watched people handle unimaginable situations with the care, kindness, and finesse most of us could only dream of. And others, myself included, feel broken at the hands of relatively simple concerns.
Seeing the Blessing
Your blessings in life are only there if you are open enough to see them.
The pain in my leg is sometimes so violent and overpowering, I’ve wondered whether it would be better to not even have the leg. And if I want to be honest with myself, I need to ignore the pain for a moment and think about what others go through, what I’ve been spared, and all the fortune I’ve experienced over the years.
I have suffered through a complex marriage and an even more complex divorce. Heartbreak has seemed like the norm through most of my life. And yet here I sit, engaged to an angel, when many will never even taste a fraction of the love I feel.
My last few posts have reflected a certain heightened level of suffering, both physical and mental. And those pains are real. But they don’t reflect the big picture.
I am blessed.
I have been for my whole life.
And the blessings are growing by the minute.
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