A few months ago, we had some friends over who are going through an unimaginably stressful and financially draining experience. It’s consumed their lives, and in the long term could have a devastating effect on their marriage, their children, their jobs, and even their ability to live where they do. It’s already cost them thousands of dollars to deal with and will likely cost many more before it completes next year. Their kids know about their situation; our kids don’t.
It’s also been a difficult year for our family financially, as we continue to work on unraveling the outstanding issues from the closure of our prior business and as we try to find any solution that will help one of our critically ill family members in regaining health, and don’t seem to be succeeding.
There we were, sitting around the table, able to laugh, joke, and just plain enjoy each other.
And then I thought… there’s definitely something to this. As Sheryl Sandberg so poignantly underscored in her graduation speech at UC Berkeley, the ability to get present and take joy in the smallest of occurrences is what determines the flavor of our life.
And then I thought… there’s more to this. Instead of having issues, are you being had by your issues? What do I mean by this?
I mean, that while you might HAVE issues (who doesn’t, really?), do they define you? Do they take up all your brain space and keep you from noticing the joy around you? Do they keep you from being here, now? Do they keep you from sleeping, distract you, and rob you of your joy?
If this sounds like you, then you’ve been had!
And it doesn’t have to be that way.
Simply distinguishing that your issues have you by the throat can go a long way to breaking the hold they have on you, since seeing them gives you the opportunity to choose to take hold of them, instead of them choking off your joy.
Take a moment: Is there anything bugging you so much you can barely get present? Something you think of incessantly? Something that makes you upset that’s unresolved?
Take a moment and identify it. I’ll wait.
OK, this will sound a little strange, I know. But… tell your issue you love it. Tell your issue it doesn’t have to go away, but it does have to step to the side so you can be present. Imagine putting it in a beautiful bag by the front door. Reassure your issue you won’t forget about it (I mean, how could you in such a pretty package?). Reassure your issue that no one else will take it (seriously, no one else wants it since they have their own, but your issue thinks it’s extremely valuable!) and you will see it again very soon.
Now imagine yourself stepping out to be somewhere, without your issue, or with your issue magically shrunken into a teeny package in your pocket. Reassure yourself that you can have your issue back WHENEVER you want.
(I promise, it’ll be there!)
Now go and experience the life with the presence and focus you were meant to. If you get lonely, your issue will be right there, waiting for you.
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