Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wag More, Bark Less. Big Brother, This One is for You.

Living life without change, with nothing to look forward to, is like trying to paint a picture using only one shade of a single color.

Seriously, think about it.

Mixing it up once in awhile gives us something to look forward to, and having something to look forward to is what gives us hope.

The same thing, day after day, can get a little boring.
 During the work week we look forward to Friday or our next day off. In the morning we look forward to our coffee, at night we look forward to a nice dinner, spending time with our families, or even just a restful nights sleep.
These are the little milestone we focus on to pull us through the monotony of the moment.

The big milestones punctuate our lives the same way the small ones do our days. Vacations, weddings, first home, first baby, retirement, etc. It isn't so much the focal point itself that matters, or whether the goal is big or small. What is important is the contrast and definition that milestones give our days.

Having something different to look forward to makes life interesting.

How often have you found yourself savoring a special moment, and thinking "I could stay in this moment forever." The reality is, the reason the moment is so special is precisely because it is fleeting.

Everything being the same, all the time, with no hope of change wouldn't be all that pleasant. In fact, prison is pretty much just that. Monotony, being stuck in the same place with the same people with nothing to look forward to, nothing every changing.

The happiest people are those who are consistently able to find something to look forward to, even in the bleakest of circumstances. Those who can't find themselves miserable, no matter what their situation. Most people seem to have a natural "set point" somewhere on this spectrum, but I believe we can consciously choose to move ourselves closer to the "happy" end by cultivating an attitude of gratitude and by seeking out things to look forward to, no matter what is going right or wrong in our lives.

Now does this mean I'm good at doing it myself? Ha! I wish. Honestly, I'm still struggling. The things I find to look forward to sometimes are not enough to blot out the frustration I feel on other fronts. But I continue to try, every day, to wake up and be grateful that I'm here, I'm alive, I have my family around me, a place to live and a job to pay the bills. It is a balancing act, but what in life isn't? I do know I'm happier when I put my focus on gratitude. Being middle aged is helpful in understanding this, actually. By my time of life, most of us have figured out how to choose our battles and have learned how to let go of the small stuff.

Cats are also good at this.

Big Brother, on the other hand, was born on the 'glass half empty' side of the spectrum. He has a very hard time finding joy in the small milestones of life. Even when things are going well, he seems to get stuck ruminating about past wrongs and old slights. Seriously, he still occasionally brings up a play ground conflict from when he was three that he's still mad about. Granted, our living situation has been chaotic for the past couple years which doesn't help. I've been a tad crispy around the edges lately myself, so I know why he's struggling.

But by the same token, Big Brother has a good job with excellent future potential. He is learning and has already learned a great deal during his year in the industry. He is in a relationship with a lovely young lady whose company he clearly enjoys. Come May, the kids and their mom should be ready to move out and live independently again at long last, which is a milestone we can all  look forward to.

In the meantime I don't know how to get Big Brother to focus more on all the things that are going right and worry less about all the little stuff he can't control anyway.  Not only would he be happier, but I suspect he would be healthier, too. He's been going through a series of tests lately for stomach issues that have plagued him for years. I may not be an MD, but Doctor Mom suspects stress is the culprit.

Do you want one too? Click here!
I bought him this bumpter magnet the other day that I think says it all. Hopefully, he'll take the message to heart.

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