This weekend I met my college kids in Utah for a little shopping. It was delightful in every way. I got caught up on their love lives, their roommates, their moving plans, their classes, and their finals. I listened as they talked and watched them in awestruck amazement and unabashed adoration. I am completely in love with them.
Several times I had the thought, "I love my life."
Just three years ago, I was having an entirely different experience. My son was leaving on a two-year service mission for our church. He was graduating from high school and my daughter would follow only a year later. I could see the dominoes of loneliness and loss falling inextricably into a dismal future.
It felt like my life was over. I thought that things would never be the same, that something special was ending forever, and I was certain that there was no way that the future, which would consist of considerable time spent apart, could ever be...
My birthday was last week. I was out of town, so we opened presents on Sunday night. I got four presents. There was no cake. There were no candles. There was no birthday song. I didn’t make a birthday wish.
These are the facts. These are just the circumstances. They are completely neutral until I had a thought about them.
The thought I had was that there should becake and candles and a song for my birthday. I thought it was ridiculous that there weren’t any of those things. I made it mean that nobody really cared that I was born.
I felt irritated. Oh, so irritated.
After that, you can imagine that I didn’t really show up the way I wanted to. My comments were snarky and I gave David the cold shoulder. In this moment of emotional childhood, I was blaming David for the fact that I felt irritated.
But the truth is not only had I created the feeling of irritation, even worse, I...
David and I just went on a quick trip to Grand Cayman. It was amazing!
I know what you’re thinking…of course it was, you were on vacation without the kids on a beautiful island in the Caribbean.
Here’s the thing. None of that is what made it amazing.
I know this for sure because four years ago we went on another getaway to beautiful Carmel in California. We had a room that looked out over the sea. And I was miserable.
Because in my life I was angry and resentful and miserable. I was always worried and stressed and burdened. And changing my location from home to Carmel, didn’t make any difference at all.
The location is always just a circumstance! I was angry and resentful and miserable because of my thoughts about my life and the people in it and not because of anything else.
I know it feels like the circumstances are just happening to you. I know sometimes it feels almost impossible to be happy, even...
We all know that you get to choose your thoughts. This means you get to decide what you believe about yourself, about your family, about your job, about your life—about everything!
As you start to examine the mindset and beliefs that have been creating your current results, you will find thoughts that are not serving you. For me, I find that in many cases my thoughts are actually generating results that are the exact opposite of what I want in my life.
In this case, it can be helpful to clean out your "thought closet," if you will.
Perhaps, over a lifetime, you have picked up thoughts that you no longer like, thoughts that no longer fit, or thoughts that are out-of-fashion with the results you really want. You can think of these thoughts like you do the fashion relics crowding your closet. You are under no obligation to keep them. Just like your bell-bottom jeans...
On Friday night, David and I were talking over pizza…it’s our standing date.
He was telling me all the things he was worried about. It was a long list.
For one thing, he was worried about all our kids for different reasons. He started listing them. He was worried about work. There was another long list of anxieties and stresses.
“Huh,” I thought, “That’s interesting, because I’m not worried at all."
That’s when I realized that I’m not worried about anything. Worry pretends to be necessary and effective, but it is neither. It has never once prevented something bad from happening and it has never once improved the future in any way. All it has ever done is rob me of my present joys. Worry is just a thought that I no longer choose to think.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to be a world-class worrier. I used to wake up at night to do it.
But I have...