Little (messy) pieces of adventure
As I pulled up to the elementary school to pick up my daughter and her friend, I realized that our 12-hour car trip from the day before was all too obvious. Coloring books, crayons, blankets, pillows and cups littered the car.
Between the return from our trip to starting work and school the next day, just getting the suitcases in the house was a victory. Nonetheless, I was slightly stressed and embarrassed as my daughter and her friend climbed into our cluttered vehicle.
“Wow. Your car is messy,” noticed my daughter's friend, who was still too young to be anything but honest. I cringed as I watched them buckle into their booster seats. Her friend was absolutely right. Our car was a disaster.
“It's not messy,” my daughter stated as she picked up a few items from the floor next to her. “These are just little bits of adventure left over.”
I smiled. Why hadn't I thought of it that way?
Maya Angelou once said, “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
From messy cars to messy relationships, there are plenty of opportunities to change our perception in our lives to create a happier existence.
In the context of the family, this has practical applications. If you are unhappy with a family member, you may have already realized you can't change the person. What you can change is your perception of them. Try focusing on the positive about the relationship and evaluating the situation from a place of love and growth instead of judgment.
We can also change our perception about day-to-day things that stress us in our lives. For example, the students who take my college courses complete “Celebrations of Knowledge” instead of exams. Of course, they are completing the same thing but it helps to reframe it in a positive light.
Sometimes just realizing we have worked hard to earn our stress helps us accept it. Perhaps we can even come to celebrate the opportunities we have in life that show us our own strength, preparation and depth.
By simply looking at a situation in a new way, it can change from a negative to a positive experience and cultivate more happiness.
Now, when I climb into my car and it is disorganized, I smile. After all, I dreamed of the day I would have such great kids — who occasionally leave little pieces of adventure all over.
Melissa Gibson Behunin is the professor of psychology and family studies at Arizona Western College. She can be reached at Melissa.Behunin@azwestern.edu.