A few months ago I started reading Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl to my five year old son. I was cleaning out some boxes in my basement when I came across my copy (which my friend Ellen gave me for my ninth birthday–thank you Ellen!).
I picked it up and thought, “This will be a fun read.”
And fun it is. I think we are on our fourth go-round.
My favorite scene is this:
Charlie, along with his parents and four grandparents are traveling with Mr. Wonka in the Great Glass Elevator when things go awry. They have accidentally left the earth’s atmosphere and have gone into orbit when they encounter a group of United States astronauts aboard a “commuter capsule” en route to the first ever Space Hotel U.S.A.
“What if they come after us?” said Mr. Bucket (Charlie’s father), speaking for the first time.
“What if they capture us?” said Mrs. Bucket.
“What if they shoot us?” said Grandma Georgina.
“What if my beard were made of green spinach?” cried Mr. Wonka.
“Bunkum and tummyrot! You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that. Would Columbus have discovered America if he’d said ‘What if I sink on the way over? What if I meet pirates? What if I never come back?’ He wouldn’t even have started!”
As I chuckled, it occurred to me how many times I “what if” myself out of doing things.
In my business it goes something like this:
What if no one signs up for my workshop?
What if no one buys the new products I designed?
What if I burn out?
What if someone comes over and my house is a mess?
What if we run out of food at the party?
With big life decisions…
What if I screw up?
What if something terrible happens?
All this what iff-ing, has often pushed me to do my absolute best. But it also pushes me to perfectionism and that can lead to getting stuck and giving up, or not even trying at all.
My Dad, who passed away a few weeks before my 31st birthday, used to tell me:
“You can always find reasons NOT TO DO something. Why not focus on the reasons TO DO something?” Tweet this!
I wish I took his advice more often. Perhaps today is the day.
How about you? What things do you avoid doing because your what if’s get in the way?
Please post a comment below.
My husband has always been my greatest teacher when it comes to being grateful.
For Daniel, gratitude comes easy. It’s as if it’s in his DNA.
And perhaps it is.
According to researchers at the Greater Good Science Center, there is actually a gene associated with gratitude. “CD38 is, in fact, significantly associated with a number of positive psychological and behavioral outcomes that are all intimately related to the expression of gratitude.”(1)
I, on the other hand, have had to continually work at cultivating gratitude, much like exercising.
So it’s super cool that I have Daniel around to keep me on track with my training.
For example, Daniel loves correcting me when I say, something like, “I have to do laundry today.”
“Lorraine, you GET TO do laundry,” he replies.
And he’s right. I GET to do laundry in our state-of-the-art modern washer and dryer that just happen to live right outside my kitchen. I don’t have to schlep to the laundromat or up and down a few flights of stairs like my younger twenty-something self did. And I GET to have clean clothes.
This one shift in language, “HAVE TO” vs. “GET TO,” whether you are saying it out loud or silently to yourself, can make all the difference in how your subconscious mind interprets your life.
Because all day long we are constantly thinking about what we HAVE to do, am I right?
This one shift in language helps us appreciate the journey.
Whether’s it’s doing something menial like laundry or food shopping, or something more enjoyable, like for me, writing this email, we can either trudge through it or enjoy the ride.
It’s the difference between racing through the supermarket, hoping to get in and out the door as soon as possible, and never making eye contact with anyone vs. being inspired by a new vegetable, snack, or person you meet along the way.
I used to get frustrated that food shopping with Daniel always felt like it was taking too long. But now I see the light. To him, shopping is not just something to check off the to-do list, which he does find pleasure in, but it’s also an experience to be had. It’s no wonder Trader Joe’s is Daniel’s favorite store. Listening to the music and sampling the free coffee or snack, all while shopping for tasty treats with him is something I actually look forward to now and leave extra time for—because I GET TO!
For today, take note of how many times you use the words, “have to” and see how it feels to shift into “get to” mode.
It could make all the difference in your day, week, month, or year and eventually your life starts to change for the better.
Because you either HAVE to live this life, or you GET TO. Tweet this!
It’s all about perspective.
My advice? Be like Daniel.
Douse life with appreciation and wonder, and enjoy it fully, simply because you GET TO!
All my love,
Everyone is always doing the best they can.
I learned this from my Aunt Emily.
She is the kind of person who is always there when you need her, never expects anything in return, and always knows how to have fun even when life stinks.
Everyone is always doing the best they can.
This one way of thinking has the potential for greater understanding, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, love, and a whole lot of appreciation for the other person.
If only I could remember this – in the moment when I’m arguing with someone, or feeling confused or hurt by something someone did. Perhaps I wouldn’t take things so personally, which often gets me into trouble.
If I can remind myself…
Everyone is always doing the BEST they can.
Perhaps I would allow others to be themselves without assuming they are being inconsiderate or are out to get me.
Perhaps I would be able to let things go more easily, realizing that maybe it isn’t necessarily about me.
Perhaps I would be more understanding of myself, remembering that sometimes when I am struggling and things are just not working out, that I too am simply doing the best I can.
Today I make a promise to myself to remember this statement each time I feel unhappy in a situation with another person, or unhappy with myself. I promise to go the extra mile to understand why the other person is acting a certain way, without judging them or getting defensive.
Because maybe they didn’t get enough sleep last night, or they are awaiting the results of biopsy, or their cat just died.
We never know what people are going through but if we can consider the possibility that given any situation, everyone is always doing the best they can, then we can make it a rule to give that person, whether it’s your Mom, husband, child, boss, or that jerk on the road that cut you off, the benefit of the doubt. And then just maybe, kindness will have a chance in this world.
Thank you, Aunt Emily, for teaching me this beautiful approach to life, and people, and love.
Everyone is ALWAYS doing the best they can (including me!). Tweet this!
If this resonates with you, please leave a comment below – it’s ok, just do the best you can. 🙂
It was a long time ago.
Seventh grade homeroom class. Or was it eighth?
I don’t remember exactly why she was so mad at me, but I do remember my heart sinking into my stomach as my best friend since first grade publicly bawled me out in front of twenty classmates.
She and I had been drifting apart for the last two years and somehow I had done something to piss her off.
The details are fuzzy as to what actually happened to provoke her to humiliate me, but the feelings I felt that lonely morning are as clear as day: Helplessness. Embarrassment. Pain. Sadness.
I remember doing my best to swallow my tears.
And I remember WHO helped me through it.
She sat with me. She comforted me. She told me I did nothing wrong.
She sat with me.
That’s what I remember.
She sat with me.
Kathy B. and I were friendly, but we weren’t super close. She was a really nice girl I knew at school who had the courage to sit with me.
Thank you Kathy B. for making a horrible moment feel so much better.
All these years later I am still grateful. Grateful that someone — YOU — stood by me to help me get through those ten minutes of homeroom class that felt like an eternity, and to go about my school day as best I could. Grateful there was no Instagram or Facebook to destroy my world a gazillion times more than it had been destroyed that day.
I wish that every kid who was ever shamed or bullied had a Kathy B.
Kids are so stressed these days. Too much schoolwork. Too much technology. Too little down time. And the bullying.
As a culture we are so caught up with DOING more so we can HAVE more that we are forgetting to take time out to appreciate what we have, and to appreciate ourselves and others.
Perhaps if more of us slowed down and focused on what WE are grateful for, we could set a better example for our children.
Please take a moment today to reflect on this idea.
By making a commitment to live our lives with an attitude of gratitude, each and every day, we can make a difference.
We can be a Kathy B.
Thanks for reading. Please share your comments below.