Create your own reality

Focus on the positive and productive things that happen during your day. There is bound to be at least one. Think of what you would want to remember about this day, five years from now.

A good friend’s comment on my recent birthday post reminded me of my tendency to take the best from each day. That truly is something so integral to me now that I am not even sure when I started doing it.

Looking back on that day, I could have focused on the fact that I spent a large portion of my birthday (which I perceive to be the most personal day of the year) at a public function helping other people to reach their goals, and another large portion of it being “stuck at home” taking care of my children. If I did that, I would likely have felt disappointed with my day. Instead I focused on the pleasure of spending time with friends at the breastfeeding function and during the study group, on the quiet contemplation of puzzling, beading, and listening to a good fantasy audiobook, on the excitement of the children at playing with us in the evening, on having some delicious food, and enjoying time with my partner after the children were asleep. The motions of the day did not change no matter how I looked at it. The perceived reality, however, is significantly different based on what I choose to focus on.

Skeptics say that pulling rose-coloured glasses over your eyes is not a valid solution to life’s problems. And I am not claiming it is. However, we often tend to get so entrenched in reacting to life’s little disappointments, that our reality can become one never-ending stream of irritation. Slow traffic on the way to work, long line-ups at a grocery store, poor customer service, an irritating co-worker or neighbour, need to re-park your car every three hours because your workplace does not have parking, unpleasant comment by a passing stranger, – the list can go on. But I do not want to think of my life as such.

So I find other things to focus on. My child smiling at me and running to hug me as he comes through the door. A bright bird perched on the tree limb outside. An email from a far-away friend. Smell of fresh-brewed oolong in the morning. Fifteen minutes of reading squeezed in during a work break. A brisk walk in cold air to re-park the car. Flocks of geese coming back after the cold winter months. My warm baby cuddling in against me to breastfeed in the drowsy morning. My partner’s appreciative smile at the end of the long day.

There are both frustrating and pleasant things in my life. It is up to me to focus on the ones I enjoy and let the others fade. Five years from now, it is the good I want to remember. No need to give the rest of it more power than it has. Reality is what we make of it – elevate the pleasant experiences in your mind and you will derive even more satisfaction from them.

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