Note: Anxiety and depression are real. If you think you might struggle with either one of these, please seek help.
If you're having problems with your mood and/or emotions ALL of the time, try the first 3 things vital for regulating the human body. (Pray). Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Make it a regular thing. You might be surprised how much things tend to go out of whack when you forget to eat and sleep. And when you're out of whack, you don't realize you're not eating and sleeping. Remember if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't take care of anyone else! If you already know you're fine, but you're just having troubles feeling grateful lately, read on. :)
My husband came home from work. “How was your day?” he asked.
I asked him before the kids were born to never come home and ask me, “What did you do today?” because that would make me feel like I accomplished nothing. He said that was ridiculous because every day my answer could just be, “I raised two kids,” and he would high five me and act like I changed the world, but alas, we came to an agreement that he would just ask me, “How was your day?” I don’t know….I may be starting to rethink this now. Here is why:
Are you one of those people who can just never seem to catch a break? Is your boss always saying the most horrifying things to you? Do you have a coworker you can’t get away from who makes your life hellish at work? Do you always seem to catch one cold after the next? What about the kids? Have they been sick for seemingly the last 7 months, and that’s how long it’s been since you’ve had a decent night sleep? Are you saying, “Yes, yes, yes, that’s me!” Here’s one more question for you: Do you focus too much on all the negative things that have happened to you, and not nearly enough on the positive things? Try this instead; tell me all the positive things that have happened in the last 7 months.
Seriously. Do it. And none of this, “Well, I did get a raise at work, but now I have more responsibilities, so it’s harder.” You got a RAISE at work?! That’s awesome!! Can we just celebrate that, please? The reason I’m asking you to list out all the positive things that have happened is because I promise, it will make you feel better. This is one of the basic laws of life. If you focus on all the positive things that have happened over time, you will feel like you accomplished more, you felt great doing it, and now life is good again. 🙂
When my husband comes home from work, all I want to do is vent. The way I feel is I have about 9 hours of kid craziness to catch him up on, and I want him to hear it all, so he knows what I’m dealing with, and how lucky he is to escape it all at work! Right? Ick. Wrong! First of all, my husband loves me and our kids to the moon and back and does not get his kicks by “escaping” us all day long at work. He wishes he could stay home with us. Second of all, he doesn’t really get to “escape.” He goes and puts all the rest of the energy he has left into his job. Lastly, and most importantly, do you want to create an environment that your spouse is happy to rush home to every day, and is good energy for you and your kids, or not?
“So, how was your day?” my husband asked me.
“It was good. Well, the kids both slept for 3 hours, but at different times, and P needed me to hold him the whole time, so… where was my break?” ”
“Yeah, so…… what about that was good?”
I did not want to tell him. I wanted to complain more. Clearly, he wasn’t hearing me, or he would have expressed some sympathy for me, right?
It was then that it suddenly occurred to me I might be the one who needed to change my attitude for this conversation. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I could get over myself for 2 seconds and answer the dang question honestly, we might get somewhere.
“Well…..I finally got to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy since P needed me to hold him while he was sleeping, one of my friends volunteered to babysit for free, the kids sat still long enough in their high chairs during lunch for me to clean the whole kitchen………….heyyyyy, today was a good day! Actually, I got some stuff done today. I didn’t waste today!”
I didn’t want to be treated like a little kid and forced to list the positive things. I wanted to sit around and complain like two adults. Isn’t that what adults do? But then, I tried it. It changed me on the spot. It changed my attitude, my feelings about the day, my demeanor towards my husband and my kids, and I felt better. Sometimes, even just the power of saying things out loud is amazing.
Now, who is with me, and who is still being a sourpuss? Are you sitting there thinking, “Okay, I tried. I tried to look back, and find positive things, and nothing came up”? Look, I do have compassion. I realize sometimes life hands you really shitty, rotten lemons, and there really is nothing you can do to change those lemons. You may need to grieve. Then afterwards, you can hopefully focus on what you do have that is good in order to keep yourself trudging forward. One of the most joyful and positive people I know hasn’t lived the easiest life. In the time span of about 3 years, both of her kids moved away, both of her parents and her brother died, she got divorced, her sister went back into the hospital and then needed my friend to take her into her house due to her mental illness, her daughter’s cancer doctors told her her daughter’s cancer came back, she lost several jobs, and oh yeah, she suffered major financial problems. How is this person one of the most joyful people I know? 1) With God. 2) Because she finds it. She laughs at everything. She finds joy in her grandbabies, in being alive, and the family in her life that is also still alive.
If even still, you’re not feeling very positive about your life, you’re going to force me to go even deeper. In what do I place great joy in my life? If you know me, you’re probably guessing my kids or my husband, but my first answer is (of course God, and then) being alive. When I was first diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer at 9 years old, the first question I asked my doctor was whether or not I was going to die. My doctor said, “We’re going to do everything we can.” Even at 9, I knew that meant, “maybe.” People who know me like to tease me about being the most excitable person they know. Is it that hard to believe I have been excited about waking up every single day of my life since I found out I might not get to live it anymore? After incomplete resection of my type of cancer, the 10-year survival rate is no higher than 45%. I had my first incomplete resection 18 years and 4 months ago. Not only do I just get to live, but I get to live my life pain free, with no bad residual effects! I must be the luckiest person alive! (God is good.)
Do I need to go even deeper? Okay, listen to this dude talk about orphans in the Philippines for an hour, and hopefully you can see how blessed your life has been. (If you still feel like you had a bad day, go talk to your doctor, or another professional. Seriously. There is no shame, and it might be a healthy decision. I recommend counseling to everyone I know.)
“Okay, little-miss-bright-side-of-friggin-everything-mom, I know I lead a blessed life, and I have lots of things that other people don’t, but sometimes I just need to vent! Okay?!”
Okay, I agree. Sometimes, we need to vent to people (especially us extroverts), so we can hear ourselves thinking out loud. But, can we change these conversations from just ranting complaining to figuring stuff out, seeing the other side, and finding the positives? If not the positives in that situation, then in other things you have? How else are we supposed to feel better?
I’m considering asking my husband to change his tune to the question every wife hates to hear, “What did you do today?” I might just be able to use this as an opportunity to start listing out all the positive things that happened to me. Then, I can get my focus right, forget the small stuff, and let my attitude be adjusted. 🙂