Finding Peace and Joy in Our Lives

We don't always have the power to choose our circumstances but we do have the power to choose how we VIEW our circumstances.  Our lives change for the better when we choose to develop our sense of humor, optimism and hope.  A limited perspective often traps us in a mistaken diagnosis of self-pity or self-aggrandizement.

I remember clearly the day I glanced around me in the pediatrician’s office while waiting for my first baby’s check-up. The room was full of snot-nosed whiny ill-dressed misbehaving children. None of my children will ever look or act like that, I thought to myself. Two decades later I remember sitting in the pediatrician’s office for my last baby’s check-up. My son was running around like a maniac with his light saber chasing unsuspecting toddlers. His teenage sister was listening to music through headphones and a bad attitude was oozing out her bared teeth. Another child was picking his nose and my baby was filling her diaper and burping at the same time with so much gusto it made my eyes water. Funny thing - I really didn’t care when I noticed a new mother across the room eyeing my brood with a critical eye. Eventually all children teach their parents humility. I just smiled and waved.

Likewise, I used to feel so embarrassed for the older women I saw in public with their makeup applied to the incorrect part of their face. They didn’t seem to notice their lipstick was protruding way beyond their actual lip lines or that their mascara was smeared. Now I’m the older woman who hasn’t figured out how to apply make-up when I can’t see without putting my glasses on. If I put my glasses on, I can’t apply my eye makeup because my glasses are in the way. So I take off my glasses and just kind of guess, hoping for the best. I often see young people with 20/20 vision look at me quizzically, but I don’t waste a moment in embarrassment. I rather enjoy providing comic relief for the younger generation.

One woman told me she wasted many years feelings sorry for herself and her daughter who was born deaf. After she spent time in the hospital when her child needed surgery, this woman left feeling overwhelmingly blessed. Why? She’d spent the night walking the halls with other parents who had children who were missing brains, eyes, arms and legs. The child in the next room died during the night. Her child’s deafness didn’t seem so awful any more.

I spoke with a new widow once.  She and her husband lived frugally for forty years, never going on expensive vacations or buying each other nice gifts. They socked away every spare dime for “retirement.” They were really going to start enjoying life - when her husband retired. Well, her husband died unexpectedly the day before he retired. This woman told me if she had it to do over she would enjoy their money and their time together as they went along, not waiting for some dream that never happened.

Our lives are a gift - a precious gift to enjoy and share with joy and enthusiasm.  When we choose to laugh . . . when we choose to quit feeling sorry for ourselves . . . when we stop waiting for tomorrow to enjoy life . . . we allow our lives to flow as a river - sometimes deep and placid, other times white capped with rugged rapids, but always flowing  . . always moving until at last we find we have returned to where we began.