It’s all about perspective

My daughter had a rough morning.

She woke up after a bad dream, disoriented and funky. She couldn’t remember the whole dream, but she carried the icky feeling it gave her in her stomach all morning. She didn’t feel like eating, nothing tasted right. She didn’t want to get ready for school, nothing felt right. She was off. Everything she did was tainted by this yucky feeling in her gut that she couldn’t quite shake.

Zen road

Keep your perspective to keep your balance.

We talked a little bit and I told her the story of the two Buddhist monks who came upon a woman needing to cross a stream. The older monk carried her across on his back, but when he set her down she ran off without so much as a thank you. After walking for several more hours the two monks arrived at the monastery whereupon the younger monk simply could not stand it anymore. “You shouldn’t have carried that woman across the stream. She did deserve your kindness, she did not even bother to thank you.”

The older monk replied, “I put her down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”

The point, I told my daughter, was that she was like the young monk, carrying her icky feeling with her, refusing to put it down and look at all the good stuff that is going on around her. It was field day at school, she had her after school club at our house. Life was good.

But she didn’t see any of that because she was curling herself up in a fetal position, wrapping herself around her discomfort, keeping it warm, nurturing it. She needed to stand up and let it fall off her, run around the yard and shake it off if that’s what it took.

She begrudgingly took my advice. Moments later I heard her laughter bouncing around the backyard. She had found her smiles.

Later today I had to give myself the same pep talk. I had a great morning, super productive. I checked off a bunch of items on my to-do list, got a check I had forgotten was in the mail, life was good. And then came an email that left me feeling icky and off. I didn’t know what to do with it. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Part of me wanted to curl up around my laptop and squeeze it until it gave me an answer. But I knew better.

I stood up, shook it off, grabbed my bike and went for a ride.  I rolled the email around in my head as my tires rolled around on the path. I didn’t find my answer, but I kept my smile. I kept my perspective. I remembered that this is just one icky email in an otherwise brilliant day. And there’s no reason to nurture that icky feeling. Better just to let it go.

let it go

Let it go

As soon as I realized that and put the rest of the weight down, I was free again and able to continue working and being productive with the rest of my day.

Physical activity has always helped me shake the blues – what’s your trick to staying motivated, confident and strong even on the days that life seems hellbent on breaking your resolve?


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