That Foolish Young Man
I opened the car door fighting the tears but not the memories: my daughter’s delight, as I squeezed into that tiny plastic pool for a swim; all of those fun/uncomfortable rides on that miniature Smurf train; the pride of her cheer-leading and the wonder of watching her become a teenager: The stuffed animals are for decoration, Dad!
And my son: teaching him to go under water by accidentally dropping my keys in the deep end—followed by my pocket change; that glorious day hiking at Pinnacles National; and those treasured chess games that I always lost—and no, not on purpose.
As I finally start the car, I almost smile at the unfair wrestling matches, two against one, and a father that always went down, but never easily. And next week, my eyes will be tearing again because, you see, there was a divorce.
Looking back from the height of some decades, it is difficult to believe just how much I did not know, because that divorce is now just one of many regrets. I wish I could write to that young, foolish know-it-all; if I could just tell him a few things, pass on some simple information.
I wish I could.
And then did, in this series “Things That Make Life Better.” HE, of course, wouldn’t be interested in anything that even looked like advice, so it is a good thing I am a story-teller, a literary entertainer of sorts, and even he would enjoy the unusual way these solutions are presented.
Perhaps if these posts & books were in his life, that life might have gone a bit better, somewhat easier.
I’d like to think so. And maybe you will too after seeing this:
The Question To Make You Happier (and you ignore it)
You know the Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction: kick the can and the can flies predictably, every time. What is not so nice is that Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies to people just the same. Each time we are hard on ourselves (action), it fuels those negative feelings (reaction), and with enough fuel those feelings will surface, every time, no exceptions.
Sadly, some of us are relentless when it comes to adding fuel. We push faster to get more done—and it better be done right—and when we don’t, the criticism flows like lava, but faster. As a teen, I watched a man stapling tiles to a ceiling. I guess he was near enough to the end to realize he had made a mistake. With a vehemence that scared me, he said, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
Besides pushing and criticizing, many of us are good at ignoring our needs: we put off feeding ourselves until we finish whatever, delay using the toilet for the same reason and just do not get around to buying that elastic bandage for the knee, or light for the desk, or equally needed pair of pants, or…
And each and every negative action or inaction adds to those negative feelings and increases that inner struggle; they also reduce self-esteem and keep us at a lower quality of life.
So why do we treat ourselves this way? As elected leader and spokesperson for this struggling group, I can tell you that it does not seem as if we have a choice. When I FEEL like pushing me, ignoring me or criticizing me, well then, that’s just the way I feel. Can’t help it. And Psychology agrees: these negative feelings rise whenever they please, and they generate negative thoughts and actions or those ignoring in-actions.
Imagine my relief when I heard that Newton’s Third Law, as it applies to humans, can work in reverse. Although we do not control negative feelings, we can choose our actions (we can even choose actions that are directly opposite the negativity).
Here is the point: the more I choose to take care of my needs, the less negative, calmer and more up-beat I can become.
It’s sad really. Every day we are out there striving for happiness: searching, grabbing and clinging with all our might—and at the same time ignoring the one question that can actually make us happier: What can I do for myself right now?
Two all-important variations of that question: How can I take care of me, right after I have made a bad mistake? & What can I do for me when it feels like I don’t deserve it?
NOTE: It is easy to read a post like this, agree and move on with life unchanged. You deserve better. Decide now to change 1 situation in your life; for example, if you have a tendency to put off eating, choose 1 meal and commit to feeding yourself on time.
In the beginning, you might experience more negative feelings than usual; this is a natural resistance to change. Be persistent — a better, happier life awaits.
……….And this is for you:
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