I recently heard from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to join his pity party. He listed everything happening in his world at that moment: my daughter puked, my son has a rash all over his body, my kids have a snow day but I have to get to work, my wife is MIA, my parents—who are driving me insane—are stuck in town for another day, and I need to get the hell out of town.
After laughing out loud, I began to think about how life is all about perspective. We are all the creators of our own reality. How we decide to interpret a given experience will not only determine how we feel about that experience, but also be the driver of future experiences.
So I started thinking to myself, what was my weekend like? My initial reaction was to respond, “Count me in your freaking pity party.” Then I stepped back and, after reflecting in greater detail, I responded:
“Thank you for your invite and I think I have the necessary qualifications to join your pity party as I have been passing a kidney stone for the past 6 days and it’s brutal. I went over to the new house we are building this weekend and our brand new floors and cabinetry are completely trashed as our contractor failed to cover them after installation. My son had to leave his hockey game early because he hurt his leg. My middle daughter got screwed over by her best friend, and my oldest daughter started a meltdown at 9:30 on Sunday night because her math homework wasn’t completed and she needed me to get out of bed to help her. And by the way, 9th grade math is really hard.
However, on the flip side, this shit that I’ve been dealing with personally that I thought was going to last for 6 weeks is going to be over on Thursday and I’m psyched about that. My son who left his game early didn’t want to go back out, so I said, “You know what? Let’s just call it a day. Who do you want to have a play date with today?” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Dad, I want to have a play date with you.” Awww, that is so great.
I had a really amazing, connected conversation with my middle daughter (who was still reeling from her 5th grade friend drama) about the value of friendship and the value of holding your space in all situations. And as bitter as I was to get out of bed to “re-learn” 9th grade math, after I finally sat down and engaged with my oldest daughter, the lesson clicked with her and she completely got it. We had this fantastic moment where I knew that she knew that I knew that she totally got it. The big hug I received from a typical teenage non-hugger made it well worth the sleep deprivation. So I thought, “Well, you know what? After a bit more reflection I think I’m going to decline your invitation because I actually had a pretty amazing weekend.”
And the reality is, like all things in life, the way we view our own individual experiences really just comes down to our own perspective. I won’t lie, I’m still pissed about my contractor, but in general, if you continue to focus on how hard things are, things will continue to be hard. If you want to see how great the world can be, that will be your reality as well. There is no right or wrong way to experience the world, but it is critical to know that the reality of your own experience is completely up to you.
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