Counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Maybe it has something to do with my personality. Not maybe. Definitely it has something to do with my personality. I love to be in control! Out of control is stress to me but I’m learning.
Matt and I have both been on a quest these past 4 years and while we have many similarities of struggle we are different people and what bugs me is not necessarily what bugs him and vice verse. This concept of control is something I am finally embracing. For example: I hate flying for so many reasons but a huge one is the lack of control of the situation. Yes, I am aware that it is statistically more dangerous to drive but I have at least a partial bit of control in driving that I do not have in flying. I own this bit of nonsensical thought pattern and am happy with it.
Four years ago we stopped drinking for a myriad of reasons (this is an entire other post for me) and with that came a re-evaluation of everything in our lives. An evaluation that hasn’t stopped. Based on what happens to us and around us we are evaluating regularly. If insanity is doing something over and over expecting different results then we are strongly on the side of sane. The thought of just floating along in life, not seeing, not appreciating, not living is a horrible thought. Why be here if we are going to simply survive our time here? What a waste!
Back to happiness equalling control…it doesn’t mean what you think it means. When we began our quest and stopped drinking the biggest thing I noticed about myself is how angry I was. Facebook posts, politics, war over there, treatment of this group, treatment of that group, they, them, programs and policies that I could not do a single thing about. Opinions of people whom I knew and whom I didn’t know. Reactions and responses to things having nothing to do with me or mine.
‘Can you believe someone would think such a thing?!’
‘What kind of person could do that?’
‘Can’t they see the craziness of that opinion/thought/response?’
Upset, anxious, irritated…about things that didn’t concern me and/or that my being upset did nothing to change the situation. Once you realize that you are in that same spot then you have two choices: 1. keep on the same path 2. change. Being upset about things that had nothing to do with me directly and about which my being upset can do nothing to alter is and was a ridiculous way to live a life. So I chose to limit my time on Facebook and back out of conversations that are too upsetting. Not to say I don’t love a good controversial conversation or debate. I do love them. The different way they are in my life now is that I don’t actually care about the outcome that much. My happiness is not invested in the outcome. I have opinions like any other person and we can very heatedly disagree but once the conversation has gotten too crazy then I can step out, step back and drop the whole exciting thing. It doesn’t happen immediately in all cases but the goal is to not carry negatives into the next day. That change was freeing.
Once that big picture adjustment was realized and made then the next level was looked at. Those folks who are closer to home and in my life more. Business partners, friends, family. This past year was crazy with let it go lessons and I take it as a sign that I needed to have it beaten into my head and heart, repeatedly, to really sink in. At this moment, sitting comfortably in my house, I strongly feel that lesson has been learned. (So, Life, you can stop with the tests. I got it.)
I have found happiness in this past couple of months by focusing on what I can control. Here’s my list of things I can control: My attitude. My exercise efforts or lack there of. My eating habits. My responses to others and situations outside of myself. That’s about it. Even within my own house I do not have complete control over my spouse, kids or pets. (I, personally, believe the main purpose to kids and pets is learning that we really have no control of anything in life.) I definitely do not have control of my hair although I try. If I had absolute control of my wardrobe it would look like my Pinterest board but, alas, it doesn’t so I make the most of what I have, match up what I can and get rid of what seemed like a good idea but that one thing by itself will never an outfit make. I work to have control of the money coming into the house and I definitely have control of what goes out.
I have found happiness in watching the shenanigans of others, wishing them well, supporting them when they need it and letting it go. Happiness is also found in NOT being invested in being upset over what other people eat, how they feed their kids or how they choose to live their marriage. I am also happy that the stars aligned and I got Matt. I did not get consulted on their spouse choice or asked about how many kids they should have or if they should have kids at all, what anyone chooses to eat or not eat, either. And unless someone is giving me actual control over an issue and changing something then I don’t need to waste time working myself up into a point by point, step by step solution for their lives. My own life needs work!
So now I’m much more focused on making me a better person, forgiving things and people, realizing we’re all at weird places in our life journeys and that impacts our interactions. I can try harder to be a better me. I’m still happy to lend an ear or be there with tissues and a shoulder for crying but I don’t feel the need to pick up anyone else’s life struggles and be upset for them especially if they are not specifically asking me to do so. I can and will encourage them to find their own solution but feel zero responsibility to save them. (That is also another post)
I believe that if we all mind our own business, take care of our own houses and work to be the best people we can be then we are all better off.