5 Things to Find, Stop or Be to Change Your World
I found out in rehab just how much power my thoughts have over me. My thoughts had been holding me hostage for years chained to addiction. I had been at constant battle for control over my mind, so I now know I must be vigilant in guarding my thoughts. Situations happen everyday big and small where I must make a choice on how to react. I can choose to be happy or sad or grateful or resentful. The five things below have made the biggest difference in my life on a daily basis. I'm not claiming to adhere perfectly to them by any means. They are simply changes in the way I think and look at life in recovery...that have changed my world.
And, here they are...
Find acceptance with things you cannot change. This is one of the hardest things to do, but once you can find acceptance, you will find peace and contentment. I am the most content I have ever been in my adult life. Sometimes it amazes me that I am so content. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I like and I am used to getting my way. This is a quick fire way to always be unhappy. And let's face it...you can't always get your way. And if you are only happy when you get your way, then you are setting yourself up for a really unhappy life. Some things you just simply have no control over. Like death. I have finally found acceptance with my brother's death. I can now honor him and his memory. I accept that fact that I am an alcoholic. I knew for years that I was an alcoholic, but I couldn't accept it. And without being able to accept it, I was unable to get help for it. If you have a problem and there is something you can do to change it...then by all means, change it! But if it is something you cannot change, accept it.
Stop complaining. I woke up this morning and scrolled through facebook. It was about 7am and the first post I saw was a picture of a car that had wrecked into another car. The girl gave the series of events that happened and then thanked God that no one was hurt, ending the post with "God is good. Feeling blessed." The second post I saw was a picture of stand still traffic with the caption, "Sitting in traffic for 45 minutes. Worst.Day.Ever. Feeling irritated." Now...do you see where I am going with this? Is is really the worst day ever? No. We have the girl who got into a traffic accident, wrecked her car, was standing in the middle of the highway with police and medics and the girl was honestly just thankful to be alive. She didn't complain about her car being mangled or that it was hot outside, or that she was late for work. Then, we have the girl who is sitting safe in her car who claims it's the worst day ever because she has to sit in traffic and is going to be late for work. Do I think she really means it's the worst day ever...of course not. But, she has chosen to let it affect her entire day ahead...setting out to have a bad day. You choose your attitude toward any situation. You have all the power in that choice. When we are sitting in stand still traffic, take that time to be grateful for the present....a car that runs...gas in your tank...a radio with music...peace and quite. Take that time to call your grandparent or an old friend. We could all stand to complain less and count our blessings more.
Stop living for tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. So, really, all we have is today. I view my sobriety one day at a time. It's also how I take anything that can seem daunting and overwhelming to me...which I like to call life. I used to live in a constant state of "looking forward to" and "I'll be happy when..." Looking forward to the weekend. I'll be happy when I'm on vacation. Looking forward to the day when or I'll be happy when (insert any number of things). You can plan on something for the future and be excited about, but don't let it rob today of your happiness. Be happy for now.
Be grateful. I may have been called an ungrateful b!tch a time or ten in life and I honestly think I was probably so self-absorbed that I never even understood what was meant by it. I wasn't grateful for much. I would look at the negative and focus my energy and attention on what I didn't have instead of seeing the many positives and blessings that were right in front of me. The term was fitting. Today, I keep my "gratefulness" in check like it's gas in my tank. As soon as I start to get annoyed with a situation, I look for something to be grateful for. It makes life much more pleasant. I don't get annoyed with a lot of things that used to send me over the edge, like when I can't find a close parking space at the store. I'm thankful that I am healthy and can walk from my car to the store. I can even take the heat and enjoy it for what it's worth...or I can stand in the rain and be grateful that it's watering my plants instead of focusing on the fact I am cold and wet. I wake up every morning and thankful for the day ahead of me. It usually doesn't consist of anything mind blowing, but I am grateful to be alive and healthy. That in itself is a privilege denied to many. Being stuck beside a screaming baby on a flight is a little more challenging for me, but if I take control of my mind and not let negative thoughts get the best of me, I can be grateful for my hearing...as painful as it may be. I didn't say it would always be easy, but try it. If you can enjoy the realization of something positive in the worst of situations and be grateful for it, it will change your entire outlook on life.
Be kind. You really never know what others are going through. Offer a smile and have some patience. Shortly after I went back to work after my brother died, I had an appointment with a couple who was looking for a venue to host their wedding. I was having a bad day and quite frankly didn't think anyone else on earth was allowed to have a bad day...and if they were, it couldn't possibly be as bad as mine. Ever feel like that? Well, we got half way through the tour and the lady started crying uncontrollably. I thought she was just annoyingly emotional over her wedding and I started to get irritated and inpatient...not to mention, people crying makes me uncomfortable for the most part...especially strangers. I gave the couple some time alone and told them I'd be at the front desk...now, even more irritated with them. The fiance of the woman finally came over to what was realistically probably 5 minutes but seemed like hours. He apologize and explained that his fiance's daughter had died a few months prior and when we got to the ceremony site in the garden and she thought about walking down the aisle and her daughter not being there...she just feel apart. I felt horrible. Everyone is dealing with something and you never know. So, before you make someone's day worse than it already is, realize that people don't walk around with a badge that says what they are dealing with. Just be kind.
These five things have been some of the biggest life changing shifts in thought I have made over the past 14 months. But, I don't always find acceptance as quickly as I would like. My mind often jumps to complaint mode in many situations. I have robbed myself from happiness when worrying about the future or looking back on the past. I don't always immediately find the positive in the worst of situations. And I could always stand a little more patience with people. This is why I must be vigilant in my guarding my thoughts. Whenever I find myself angry or irritated, anxious or worried, resentful or bitter, or just annoyed, I know that I am not practicing or being one of these things and must quickly change my thoughts.
Find Acceptance. Stop complaining. Stop living for tomorrow. Be grateful. Be kind...
and your world will change.