I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up in a fog and could barely go through the morning’s motions. Then, of course, the kids want to eat and the dog wants a walk and blah, blah, blah…wah, wah, wah.
It’s so easy to complain, so easy to fall into the “poor me” rut. What I really wanted to do was take my boys to school, go back home and crawl back into bed. Poor Me needed some more sleep, dammit. I opened up the back of my car to throw the boys stuff in for school and headed back into the house to grab something. When I came back out, this is what I saw:
I commanded her to GET OUT! I pulled on her collar. I enlisted the boys for help.
No go. She wouldn’t budge.
Dog guilt wins. I guess I was going for a walk.
I take a deep woe-is-me breath and reluctantly go grab sneakers.
I drop the boys at school
and then take my dog on her walk.
About 3 minutes in, The smell of pine and leaves and fall overcome me. I have to give it up and laugh at myself. What the hell was I complaining about? It made me think of a quote that I love:
If you have not slept, or if you have slept, or if you have headache, or sciatica, or leprosy, or thunder-stroke, I beseech you, by all angels, to hold your peace and not pollute the morning.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Or even better, one by my late mother, which was uttered thousands of times in our household with five children:
“Suffer in silence” ~Mary Helen Rozell
God, I love that one. So simple and to the point. If you must whine and complain, so be it, just don’t do it out loud.
I’m not talking about true suffering here, I’m speaking of petty suffering. If someone I love is truly suffering, I hope with all my heart they will come to me and share it, so I can support them. True suffering is the big stuff: sadness, serious illness, unforeseen tragic events. Petty suffering is the whiney stuff:
“I’m so bored!” “Chicken, again?!”
“my noodles are cold!” “not another rainy day!” “I hate my teacher!” “Why do I have all the bad luck?” “I can’t believe I still have to drive this old car!”
“Man, what a terrible night.”
You get the idea.
The thing is, constant, habitual, petty suffering can inadvertently lead to true suffering.
To ensure that things don’t go that far, the solution is to form a new habit:
constant, habitual appreciation.
Appreciation is the antidote for petty suffering.
When I find myself in petty suffering, I know it’s time to decide to shift my attitude. I tell this to my kids as well: Your mood at any given time is completely up to you. As mind-blowing as it may seem, it is a simple, conscious choice. Not always easy, but very simple. Simply choose not to complain.
Appreciation can make that choice a bit easier. When the petty suffering creeps up, take a few breaths and find something to appreciate. No matter how bleak things seem, there is always a way to shift your perspective and bask in gratitude.
Today, I fully appreciate my stubborn dog. I was all ready for my pity-party, but she had her own agenda. There was a whole beautiful fall day to explore. She helped me make the shift into gratitude and the rewards were spectacular
Much more valuable than sleep.