Several years ago, I was extremely angry with a loved one. I was so filled with anger that it spilled over into all areas of my life. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t focus at work, I was distracted with my friends and my children. My anger was justifiable if anger can be justified. But it helped nothing. Anger could not change the past and it was clearly damaging the future. But I was SO angry. I could not see how to get past the anger.
Then someone asked, What if you weren’t angry? The question was intriguing. Is that a choice? As soon as I calmed down and began to visualize what it would be like to be without anger, the anger dissolved. I began to notice that the What if you weren’t? applied to so many things.
What if you weren’t angry with the driver that cut you off? What would happen? Will their driving change whether you are angry or not? All that changes is how you (and your passengers) feel. What would happen if you didn’t stress out the whole drive to work because you were late? Would the stoplights turn against you because you weren’t worried? I think not! All that would happen is that you would arrive at work relaxed and late, as opposed to stressed out and late.
What if you enjoyed watching your child gaze with interest at every little thing on his meandering route to the schoolhouse doors, rather than shouting out the car window, “Hurry up! You’ll be late!” Would your child be any later? Not my children, they go at their own pace no matter what I shout.
There are countless occurrences in our daily lives where we can choose frustration, anger, stress, regret. Or we can choose to be amused, to appreciate, enjoy. So the title of the page, What if you laugh? doesn’t really say exactly what I mean. But it captures the essence–what if you were happy instead of sad, content instead of dissatisfied?
Oh, about me. I am Lee Brennan, a 51 year old mother of 4. The first two turned out great, except for the fact that they moved so far away I hardly ever get to see them. The last two are in second grade and kindergarten. My parenting attitude this time around is much more relaxed, but so far the little ones are great too–at least in my eyes!
I practiced law for 22 years before retiring and am still in an identity crisis. Being a lawyer is more than a job and it is extremely hard to give up. I don’t miss the stress of trying to properly care for my clients, my children, and my husband when there aren’t enough hours in the day to do so (I might be a perfectionist at heart), but I do miss being a lawyer.
My husband is a sweet man, raised on a farm, with a very traditional view of marital roles and a 24/7 work ethic. You can take the man away from the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the man! Our oldest child (my third) has global developmental delay of unknown etiology. My vision when I retired, was that I would spend lots of time working on her physical and academic skills. It turns out that I spend some time doing that, but my real talent lies in finding the properly skilled people to work with her and in working with the schools to set up the best help possible. Things have improved vastly since I have had time to apply to this task, but I still miss “working” in the traditional sense. So, now that the youngest is off to school, here I am.