We are trained and conditioned throughout our lives to expect our lives to go right all the time. Even though logically we know that it doesn’t happen all the time, it does not stop us from expecting life to go to plan and thinking that something is wrong when it doesn’t.
In this reality step we have been learning how to expand the mindset to look at the bigger picture. You’ve been learning to acknowledge your opinions and judgements about the events that occur in your life and send your attention in a different direction by expanding your view of the situation to be in alignment with reality.
Throughout this program so far, I have talked a lot about the ups and downs life throws us and how there is learning and growth that occurs in every experience.
While this is all great advice in theory, it can be difficult to apply, so in today’s and tomorrow’s lessons, I’m going to help you to learn more of how to look at the value in your experiences.
This lesson is about finding the ‘hidden good in the perceived bad’ and to start with, I am going to share with you a little story that illustrates the value of the ups and downs of life perfectly and how they are neither good, nor bad.
It’s called – The Enlightened Farmer
A farmer’s prize mare got out of the stables and ran into the hills. The farmer’s family came around to console him. “How unlucky” they said, to which the farmer replied, “Hmmm…maybe.”
Three days later, that prize mare came running out of the mountains followed by 300 wild brumby. Again, the farmer’s family came around, but this time to celebrate with him. “How lucky was that” they said. The farmer replied, “Hmmm… maybe.”
A week later, the farmer’s son was breaking in one of the wild brumbies when he fell off and broke his leg. Once again the family came around to console him, saying “Oh dear, this is so unlucky”. Once again the farmers response was the same “Hmmm…maybe.”
Two weeks later, the farmer’s son was commissioned to go to war, however, they would not accept him because he had broken his leg. The family was ecstatic. “Wow, how lucky was that” they said. What was the farmer’s reply? You guessed it…….”hmmm, maybe”.
What this story illustrates beautifully, is how each event is joined to the next one and sometimes these events are ones that we can celebrate and other times they make us sad, disappointed or angry, but we never know when either event is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to us.
A broken leg meant the farmer’s son didn’t have to go to war. There was a hidden good in a perceived bad.
We can never control how life unfolds and often we are thrown unexpected curve balls that we must deal with, especially when you are a parent.
Seeing the value in all events is a practice you can become good at by continually challenging the mind when you come across these unexpected times, and as you begin to notice some of those habitual comments that are going on in your mind.
You can habitually perceive these events as wrong, bad, detrimental to yours or your child’s life, or you can learn to see the benefits of it.
At the end of the day, it all depends on how you look at things!
Here are some examples from recent history where we have been quick to look at the tragedy, the drama and events as being wrong, and how they made people miss out, only focussing on how bad it all was.
Example One – The September 11 Twin Tower bombings
Should this event have happened? No! And would we ever wish for this event to happen again? Absolutely not. But the reality is that it did happen. We can remain stuck in the should have/could haves of this moment, or we can find the benefits that this tragedy gave us.
For starters, the world had a huge reality check on the intensity of how angry and vengeful a small but powerful minority of the world is and stepped up their security. The relatively small amount of people who died in this tragedy, did not give their lives in vain, for this event has saved millions of lives through increased security measures in airports and embassies across the globe.
Millions more people were personally affected with reality checks as to how important family is and living life outside of work, leaving their six figure incomes for a simpler country life, or simply adding more leisure time for themselves, or looking after themselves better. This event shocked the world to its core and changed the course of many people’s lives forever.
Finally, how many people opened their hearts and their wallets to support the people who had lost loved ones, or to help with the clean up? How many people rallied around to take care of the survivors or the victims of this event?
How many wake up calls were given to family members who momentarily thought that they had lost loved ones, but then realized that they hadn’t? How do you think this affected those people, their relationships with each other and how it changed their lives?
The reality is that a few hundred people lost their lives that day, and for that we are sad. But that is not the only part of this story. Millions of lives changed for the better because of that event. Millions more gained a new appreciation for life.
Is this a tragedy, or is there some blessing in disguise? It all depends on how you look at it.
Example Two – The abduction of Daniel Morcombe
This example is one that most Australians would be familiar with. Danieal was a 12year old boy who was taken while waiting for the school bus on a busy highway in 2003.
Should it have happened? Absolutely not! No one wants to have that happen to a child, much less their own. But the reality is that it did happen. We can stay lost in our thoughts of how bad this was, how awful the men were that committed this crime or we can search for the hidden good in this story and the flow on affects that have occurred from this one incident.
Daniel’s parents were determined not to give up hope and started with what initially began as a nationwide search for any clues to Daniel’s disappearance via media, milk cartons, billboards, truck signs, etc not stopping at any lengths to get their son back, and has now progressed into a massive foundation working on educating the public on child safety awareness.
Every year nearly 3000 Bike riders go on ‘The Ride for Daniel’ sending a strong message to the public that ‘crimes against children is not on’. Everytime those bikers are seen, thousands of people line the streets to watch the endless parade of bikes ride by, all with the underlying reminder of why all these people have come together, further keeping child safety on the forefront of our minds. This bike ride is truly a heart warming thing that I have personally witnessed myself.
They also have an annual Walk for Daniel campaign where upto 500,000 school age children participate in a community walk followed by an educational talk, discussion and education via a free DVD also made by the foundation to teach kids how to be safe and avoid experiencing what Daniel did.
This one life that was lost has benefited millions of Australian kids and parents, and has potentially stopped countless more children from being abducted too.
One boy. One life sadly lost, but millions of people positively affected.
It all depends on how you look at it!
Now apply that mindset closer to home. Can you learn to look at the events you face in your everyday life, or even what’s happened in your past in a different way too?
Should some of the events from your past happened? Possibly not, but the reality is they did and we cannot changed the past. But you can change the way you perceive it. Right now, you can start looking at the benefits that you have received from that event and can continue to do this throughout life.
You see, we have always been taught to look for all the bad stuff, the drama, the tragedy, what’s gone wrong. Just look at the news every night to see how we came to be so focussed on all this stuff. But, rarely do we see the rays of light shining through those clouds. Rarely do we take notice of the ripple effects of that one drop in the pond of our life.
Let’s have a look at some common difficult day-to-day situations where we can find the hidden good in the bad.
“My partner and I are always fighting lately. We shouldn’t be treating each other like this”.
Value: Our fighting is an indication that we need to learn new ways of communicating and negotiating. Where can I learn how to do this?
“My child is having tantrums, speaking rudely and misbehaving and I’m sick of it.”
Value: My child is growing in a healthy normal way and he has just entered a new developmental stage that I’m not sure how to deal with yet. I need to find ways to help him accelerate through this stage and ways for me to cope and keep my cool. This will help him and me to learn through this.
“I am home all day and all night with my child and I never get a break”.
Value: I get to see my child grow up and develop. I get to see the first smiles, crawls, walks, words. I also get to see their first tantrums, learn how to meet their needs, make them feel loved. I get to know their little personalities better than I would if they were apart from me. I get to have the experience of being a mum and loving a little being that has part of me in him.
“Motherhood is not what I expected it to be. It’s really hard.”
Value: This motherhood experience is new and challenging but I am learning how to do things differently to how I used to. My life has changed dramatically and with that comes a whole new set of highs and lows that I’m still getting used to.
“I hate admitting that I have a mental illness. I feel so weak”
Value: I am not weak for having a mental illness. My mind has simply learnt an incorrect way of viewing life. In a way this is a blessing in disguise because it is forcing me to learn more about myself and how I can accept myself, which in the end, is going to vastly help my children, because I’ll be teaching them this new knowledge too.
Perhaps you are already resisting some of these new ways of looking at these situations, determined to defend why these statements are wrong and why you are right. The point is, either way you look at these situations, whether you are thinking in alignment with stress or harmony, you are right, because they are your beliefs.
You can defend them and get sucked into why your train of thought is right and continue to spiral down into that place where you are stressed and depressed, or you can challenge these thoughts to try these new perspectives on and see if you can add to them. I guarantee you will start to feel better about situations as you continue to look at these situations in a different, more empowering way.
Don’t worry in day six of this week I am going to recap all of the ways to implement this reality step to include the three categories for expanding your mind – the reality of the situation, parenting and life.
I will take some of these situations mentioned and show you how you can completely change the story that you have been telling yourself to a new story that is going to stop you from feeling so bad about these situations.
Often our low times are exactly what we need to propel us to a different place in our lives. They force us to change and try something new.
Every event we experience flows on and effects the next one. We are forever growing and learning from these events and then go on to share our knowledge with other people which impacts their lives.
What has unfolded in your past has led you to right now, where you are reading this new information about how to be happier.
Your stress, your anxiety or your postnatal depression could be your low that you needed to propel you to the next phase of your life, through the lessons that you gain from it. It could be extremely beneficial because it forces you to abandon your current way of thinking in order to end your pain and try something new. It could be the best lesson of your life.
But will it be? Hmmm….Maybe
It all depends on how you look at it!