Friday morning, the start of a brand new month (and also the beginning of my 31st year!) was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
By the time Mom picked me up to take me for my birthday massage shortly after noon, I had already accomplished what felt like a full day’s worth of things I wanted to do.
I’d gotten up at 5am to do my Miracle Morning routine (which includes meditation, visualization, affirmations, reading, writing a gratitude list, and exercise). I’d also written close to 1,000 words by 7:30am when I dropped Aaron off at work.
Then I came home and got right back to work in my office, and by 9:30am, I’d written over 1,500 words and had an article published on Medium.
With hours still to spare until I had to leave, I shot off some work emails, had a shower, packed a bag for my upcoming sleepover, and relaxed.
A Day’s Work Done
I felt great! The day was really just beginning, and I’d already done everything I wanted to do for me in order to feel good about myself and my work. I’d taken care of myself first by dedicating an hour of time to my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health and growth.
And, better yet — I worked on my goals and dreams. I carved out time for writing, and followed through on my commitment to post a new article on Medium every single day for a whole year.
No excuses; just 365 new articles online, all with the ability to earn me some extra money on a daily basis! Who doesn’t want that?
I was feeling pretty proud of myself and excited about what all I’d achieved in the first half of the day when Mom announced she was here to take me to my next birthday treat — an hour-long massage at a salon and spa we both love in Peterborough called “The Locks.”
I was right ready to go and really looking forward to the massage and spending a fun day with Mom! We have, in recent years, created a tradition of going to a spa together to celebrate my birthday. Every year, we either get massages, or get our nails done together as a fun little outing! I was imagining today to be the same.
Only it wasn’t.
My Sails Deflate
From the moment I opened the door of my dad’s big red truck, I knew Mom wasn’t having a good day.
It seemed that everything that could go wrong was, in fact, going wrong for her. Or at least that’s the way she was seeing it.
It made me sad.
Here I was, looking forward to a fun day out with my Mom, just the two of us. But she wasn’t able to enjoy it, because she believed everything was going wrong. Everyone and everything was against her, and it wasn’t a good day.
I tried to cheer her up, but I just didn’t know how. It seemed like she’d fallen too far down the rabbit hole of negativity to be freed — at least in this moment.
I tried sharing some of my positive, excited, optimistic energy with her by telling her about my day so far and all the things I’d done that I was happy with, but that wasn’t too well received in her current state, and I couldn’t blame her.
So we drove, mostly in silence, listening to some CDs she’d brought along.
Part of me was annoyed with her for raining on my parade, and ruining the high I’d experienced earlier in the day when I’d been alone. But another part of me understood that she wasn’t doing this on purpose. I was absolutely positive that she wasn’t trying to make me feel miserable or dump her frustrations on me. She just didn’t know how to handle them — and that, I could certainly empathize with.
I Just Want to Help
As she continued to struggle through her day, I wished so much that I could help her feel better; that there was a switch I could flip to turn on the light in her soul and help change her mind, allowing her to find the good — even just one little thing that was going right.
But it was also clear to me that even if such a switch did exist, in her current mindset, she may very well have just switched it back off anyway. She just didn’t seem to be open to being happy at that time. Maybe she just wasn’t ready.
I’m learning that when someone isn’t ready to stop suffering, there is often nothing you can do for them. They have to come to their own realizations that they want to change. You cannot force someone to want to be happy, just like you can’t force someone who’s unhealthy to eat better or start exercising.
Unless they genuinely want to start taking better care of themselves or make a change to improve their life, it’s very difficult to help them.
No matter how much we may want to “fix” them, or fix their situation for them, it’s not possible.
They alone can change their life — and not until they’re ready.
And besides; me wanting to “change” her (to make her happy when she’s not) is just another way I’m arguing with the way things are.
We’d Argue With Anything
I’m beginning to learn that so much of why we suffer is due to our thoughts about the world around us, about other people, and about ourselves.
We believe things should be different than they are, and because they’re not the way we want them to be, it’s wrong. We don’t allow ourselves to be happy because things aren’t how we want them.
In Mom’s case, the snow shouldn’t have come so early and it shouldn’t be so cold. The day was miserable and gloomy, when it was supposed to be beautiful and sunny. She should have been able to drive her Camaro, not this dumb monster-sized truck. The chilli we picked up on the way shouldn’t have spilled all down the front of the white shirt she was wearing. And the list went on.
Basically, we had two completely different experiences of the same day. She experienced the morning as miserable, wrong, bad, and hard. I experienced the morning as exciting, uplifting, interesting, surprising, and new.
She argued with it; I embraced it for what it was.
Was it a bit shocking to have snow on the first of November? Absolutely! Did it have to ruin my day? Not at all. Would it have been more fun to go for a joy ride in her sporty, engine-roaring Camaro? Definitely.
But that’s not what happened. So what can we do about it now?
We Can Fight, Or We Can Enjoy
I have had plenty of days just like the one Mom was experiencing, and certainly thousands of my own moments where I let a split-second reaction to something that happened (spilling coffee on my clean jeans and burning my leg in the process, for example) ruin the rest of my day.
But I’m finally starting to see that I don’t want to live that way anymore.
Where’s the fun in battling my way through each and every day? Wouldn’t it be more fun to make the best of whatever arises, here and now?
The car ride with Mom that day was a real-life lesson in the old saying, “life is what you make it” — and I’m so grateful for it.