Four Ways to Help Us Add a Little Light

We used to have occasional sad days because Mrs. Smith down the road passed away, or a local house burned down, or our best friend broke her leg. Now we are sad because there are bombings in Boston, a war in the Middle East, a plant explosion in Texas, a hurricane on the coast, and daily updates on Facebook concerning sick children who we don’t know but want to help.

I’m impressed that any of us get out of bed in the morning. Truly. I think we are heroic.

Believe it or not, these are not the most violent times in history. In fact, in comparison to other periods in history, we’re pretty darned peaceful. But our access to the horrible things happening in real-time makes it all too overwhelming, and we become frightened and edgy.

On Sunday, my husband and I walked into a restaurant for breakfast. I had removed myself from the horrors of televised terrorism to delight in the simple pleasure of great company and crispy bacon (of course I’m sure the pigs would like to voice their own feelings about their experience with terrorism). As we walked in, the lobby was filled with people waiting to be seated. It would be at least an hour wait, and I was starving.

I looked at the innocent families waiting for breakfast and yelled, “SCREW IT!”  I spun around and stormed out, ignoring the woman who was covering her grandchild’s ears.

We need to lighten up, or at least I do. [quote button_text=”Text the Quote”]I’ve decided to help find ways to live happier lives, because I believe we can only take so much pain.[/quote]

Here are a few of my ideas to make life a little more tolerable:

1. Focus energy where you can make a difference. Stop putting energy into things where you can have no significant impact. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know how to spot, negotiate with, or handle global terrorists. However, I can try to lighten someone’s day by helping them laugh. Except for those of you who don’t find me funny. I have no idea how to help you.

2. Improve the world, not your face. Nothing can suck my energy faster than catching my wrinkled face in a mirror, or a glimpse of my aging neck on my laptop screen. I spent an entire train ride trying to type with my elbows so I could use my hands to pull the skin back on my neck. I found that it was more important to talk to the 89 year-old man beside me who was still making a difference in the world. That two hour conversation inspired both of us. I’ve come to realize that no matter how much we pull our skin or fill it with plastic, we’re still aging. I just hope I age as well as David Malka, my new friend.

3. Every day, find a good story. This is how I get through humiliating moments like going to the garden shop, putting the handle of my wagon down to look at the pretty flowers, while tripping over the handle and falling INTO the flowers. This is how I dust myself off when I call the wrong client for our 12:00 meeting, and then call the right client only to find out we didn’t have a meeting at all. Rather than sitting in a corner with a dunce hat on, I jot the experience down in my nifty little notebook and share it with you. It turns my humiliation into a story shared, and then you all share your stories back with me, and we are all a little less lonely.

4. Throw away your uncontrollables. This is a great exercise I’ve used for years in training sessions. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. Label the columns Controllable and Uncontrollable. Write down your current worries and concerns, asking Can I control this? If yes, put it in the controllable column. If not, put it in the uncontrollable column. Now tear that paper in half, crumble up the uncontrollable side, and throw it in the trash. Then let those things go. Focus on what you can control.

I’ve realized that in menopause remembering to put on every element of make-up has become an uncontrollable. Some days I’m missing blush, other days I forget my foundation. One day I put mascara on one eye. Another day I used my concealer stick as lipstick. Uncontrollable. I’ve let the consistent application of make-up go, and now represent myself as a living Picasso painting.

These are just a few of my suggestions for making each day a little bit better. I bet you have a few suggestions of your own. If they work, please share them. I need them. I just noticed that I have mascara in my hair.