Over the past week and change I’ve received some very kind compliments. They’ve included comments about how I’m “always happy,” “always high energy,” and “always positive.” For clarity, this isn’t to brag – these moments help remind me of how important it is to keep my brain focused in the right directions at the right times. While flattering, each of those three statements are completely incorrect. I am not always happy, I am not always high energy, and I am not always positive.
I get angry, I lose my patience, I sulk, I worry about all the horrible things my imagination can dream up. Sometimes things just suck compared to how I’d like to have them work out. Things don’t go as I desire, what I want to have happen doesn’t materialize. In many cases it’s not even anything serious that can set me off and frustrate me. Even simple little things can set me off and cause me to not be the person people say I “always” am.
As a for instance, this morning I was painting and putting a second coat of paint in Gavin’s room. After a variety of mishaps including stepping in wet paint, bumping my wet brush on a very different colored wall, and a mistake or two by Gavin that just torqued me the right way, I finally blew a gasket when the paint peeled right off the wall along with the tape protecting the trim. I totally lost it, was seeing red, and was ready to scream (which I may have a little).
That’s when some wonderful words of advice started to sneak into my head:
- What can I learn from this?
- Does what’s happened keep me from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? The thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.
- Imagine that my life should have rightfully ended now, and therefore live the remainder, this gracious addition, according to nature.
- How would the best version of me respond in this situation?
As those thoughts slipped into my head I realized how poorly I’d acted and reacted to the moment. I pause and consider how I should have acted in that moment and see the gap between who I was and who I should be. With that in mind I’m able to take a deep breath, think, and do my best to live into that right version of me. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t undo my initial reaction, but it makes me smile as I realize that I can do something to be better as a result of it.
Those words of advice and so many others help me put my brain in the right place. Today it was something relatively minor that caused those anecdotes to come to mind, I’m so thankful they popped into my head and helped me live into a better version of me today. While I would’ve rather not had those frustrations I’m thankful for them as they’ve helped me be a better me.