With a little help from my friends, I chose Celebrate as my word for 2018. I don’t remember exactly how he put it (as I am wont to do), but Jack’s hope for me was to stop myself when I’m focusing on all that I get wrong, and to instead think about what I get right. Yes, I’m a pretty negative person. About myself. And about others.
But I am not alone in this defaulting to a negative perspective, it seems. One of my current reads is Michael Lewis’ “The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds”, which is about the collaboration of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Several times in the book the author notes the differences in personality, lifestyle, outlook, etc. of these men, and how those around them (including their students) marveled that these two men could work together. At one point he notes several things that they had in common, and then says, “And yet all anyone saw were their differences.”
What I wish in life is to see things as they really are. How nice that I’m married to the founder of a philosophy called Reality-Based Thinking. But for me, it has always seemed that only the negative things are reality. What is the deal with feeling like the good things are make-believe? Why are the true positive things harder to believe and hold on to? Where in the world do I get this sort of superstition that if I believe and focus on the good, something bad will follow just to punish me for that. Why does sad and anxiety seem more secure than happy and peaceful?
Today this picture popped up in my Facebook memories. It reminded me of many things for which I am grateful. And I noted this on Facebook (as I am wont to do) when I shared the memory. First, I have a son! Y’all, I was 41 when I had James. For a quarter of a century of my child-bearing years I was childless. And not only did I have a son — and if I was only going to get one child, I wanted a son — , but I had a very healthy son (we have been extremely blessed with doctor’s visits that you could count on one hand), and a very smart and thoughtful son. Secondly, even though there’s a bit more upheaval in our living situations than I would have wished, we have had some moments of a very peaceful, lovely home-life. This picture reminds me of enjoying that house and its accompanying acreage and bluff. Thirdly, I am grateful for the freedom we have to school James in whatever home we find ourselves. And particularly in Montana, I am grateful for our homeschool community, and the friendships and learning opportunities it has given us. Fourthly, I am reminded of the wonder of having someone come from my body that is so driven to understand science and math. Thank God! Where I am weak, James is strong. (The caption that accompanied this picture of 6 years ago read: James doing science research for his co-op class. Venomous snakes! Mom is very happy to be passing off the teaching on that.)
It would probably be a worthy exercise to write down (oh, I have a blog!) daily the positive things in my life, including my successes in one day. I feel a burden often at the close of a day of things that didn’t go right in James’ school day or in my piano lessons. (I teach an average of 8 piano lessons a day.) I generally have a feeling that it wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough. Some days are obviously far worse than others. It was for this reason (how I feel about James and my piano lessons) that Jack suggested that I do as I noted at the beginning of this post. How am I doing? Better, I think. But I do need reminders. Please feel free to be a Reminderer in my life. I will try to do the same for you.
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life