“You can be wise and happy …. or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours!” ~Gordon B. Hinckley
Let me start by relating a story I once heard … I do not know who wrote it or told it … but I love this story and it’s wisdom! To begin … Yes, I love fried baloney sandwiches … especially at the beach … Thinking about them brings back memories of growing up and having to take my lunch to school each day! I actually hated baloney sandwiches then.
The Story: Two construction workers were taking a lunch break and opened up their lunch boxes. One of them looked inside his box and said, “Not baloney sandwiches again! I can’t believe it. I hate baloney. This is the third time this week I’ve had a baloney sandwich. I can’t stand baloney!” The other construction worker looked at the co-worker and said, “Why don’t you just ask your wife to make you something different?” He replied, “I don’t have a wife. I made these baloney sandwiches myself.”
Why is it that the very things that we complain about the most or don’t like about our lives are the things that we put there ourselves. I know that I do. I complain about having a messy over-loaded closet … when the remedy is to organize it myself. I complain about no snacks in the house … when I am free to go to the grocery store. I complain about working every day …. oh … no … I don’t complain about that because I’m so thankful to have something that gets me up and out each day! Really I love my job. OK… back to baloney and complaining! I complain about not seeing my kids enough … when I know it’s a two way street and I can get in my car and drive to visit them. We complain about many things that we can control. This is especially true about our attitudes … something that we also have the capacity to control, but so often choose not to.
We all understand the need to be more positive and have a happier attitude … there are a gazillion books written on the subject. We even have bible scriptures that teaches and encourages us “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Ephesians 4:23) So why do we so often choose to carry around the same old attitudes that have let us down over the years.
The solution really is simple … We CAN stop packing baloney sandwiches for ourselves and start the process of developing new attitudes that will assist us in our daily lives … to develop attitudes that do not hold us back. Our attitude can either be our best friends or it can be our worst enemy. I believe my attitude is the biggest determinant to my quality of life … a happy life. It’s about making the mental shift in attitude that will allow you to power through whatever life throws at you. Think about it … if you are in a bad mood and something annoying happens … it puts you in what I call the “watch out explosion coming” category. But if you try your best to be happy .. and something annoying happens … it’s much easier to deal with. Check out this cartoon … It’s so true … look for the positive … sit in the good seats.
I’m in no way trying to trivialize life’s tribulations. Let’s face it; some of us have a great deal of pain to deal with. I sure have had plenty to deal with in my short lifetime (yes I consider myself young). However, it is essential for your well-being that you understand that these circumstances, events or situations are not the final word on your quality of life … no matter how bad it appears. It’s how you respond to them and the fear and other negative emotions they produce that make the difference. And more than anything, it’s about a shift in attitude that will allow you to power through whatever life throws at you. In fact, it’s all about attitude. It’s always been about attitude. And always will be about attitude.
I love this photo of my great-grandson Henry and the difference in what attitude means. These photos were taken about a minutes apart. Some days I bet photos resembling these could be taken of me! Unlike my Henry (who really doesn’t understand life yet) … we are in control of our attitude.
You know what kind of attitude I’m talking about? The kind that no matter the severity of the situation, you not only bounce back, but you thrive with a determination and confidence that defy the odds against you.
Do you want to know how to acquire that kind of attitude? Here’s an analogy that I read from a book by Steve Rizzo using cats as a teaching point. Observe a cat, any cat. Our family has a cat … it’s actually belongs and lives with my granddaughter Maggie … but we all consider it our cat. His name is Asha. OK back to the cat story. Go ahead observe your cat. Just watch them. They strut around the house, as if they’re God’s gift to the animal kingdom. I swear, if cats could talk, we would hear, “Meow! Meow! Ba-Da-Bing! Meow!” Our Asha sleeps anywhere he wants and dares us to move him. Yep … Meow! Meow! Ba-Da-Bing! Meow! If you fold clothes on the bed and walk away for five minutes … when you go back Asha has made that nice pile of folded clothes his comfy bed. Ba-Da-Bing!
Have you ever wondered why it is said that cats have nine lives? Because they have resilience; they bounce back. Nothing seems to affect them. Once I was brushing Asha (he didn’t like it) and he actually fell off the counter trying to avoid me. He land on his feet and look at me as if to say, “What? I meant to do that!” and then walk away. “Ba-Da-Bing! Meow!” Resilience! Bounced back!
My family are definitely dog lovers … we have about eight dogs between all family members. Of course my favorite is my dog “Captain Jack” (he will be 15 years old this year) … he definitely has my heart. Think about it … have you ever told a cat to go fetch something? It just sits there and gives you another one of those looks. “Hey, let’s get something straight. I don’t do fetch. You want something, you tell your best friend Jack (my dog) to get it. I’m busy. The bottom line is this: Cats live on their own terms. Nobody tells them what to do. They defy the odds. All of us could use that same kind of attitude! Resilience! Bouncing back!
There’s a story about two brothers who appeared on a talk show. Again I don’t know what show or when … just read it on the internet. The first brother came out and told his story. He was divorced, broke, unemployed, angry about life, unable to control his emotions and had problems with alcohol abuse. When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have? My father was an abusive alcoholic and I was destined to turn out like this, it’s all his fault!”
Then the second brother came out. He was a successful businessman with a happy marriage and smiling kids. He lived in a beautiful house, was well-respected in his local church and was a fun guy to be around. When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have? My father was an abusive alcoholic and I didn’t want to turn out like him, so I focused on improving myself and becoming the best person I could be.”
I grew up with a very dysfunctional family. My father committed suicide when I was 11 years old … which turned my family upside down. After that my family had so many ups and downs. Many extended family considered us not family anymore. At some point in my growing up I decided that my family would not define me, my future family, or the choices I made. I wanted better than I had. I began to understand that we were not meant to be defined by our circumstances but by our choices regarding these circumstances. No matter how hard we try, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude and our emotions. We’ve always have the power to choose, we just need to exercise that choice. Sometimes those choices are hard … but so worthwhile!
Life is difficult … I can’t lie about that. But if you are like me, sometimes you make it more difficult by focusing only on the burdens. But life is not all sorrow. We just need to focus on all of life’s blessings that surround us. I have found so many blessings to be thankful even in the worst parts of my life. Remember that with every burden comes the hope of happiness. If we realize that life includes the good and the bad, enjoyment and heartache, pleasure and pain, we might be less likely to feel disheartened when all is not ideal.
Every morning I remind myself of how blessed I am … to pull my head out of my behind and look around at the beauty that this world has to offer me. Things are never perfect. I accept that. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find joy and appreciate what I do have. I do have plenty to be thankful for. As I struggle to carry my own burdens, I try to focus on living with hope … which is a very powerful trait. Realizing that our loving Heavenly Father will not send us more than we can handle. Life if a test! It is accepting the fact that all is not perfect but having the strength to show the world that it will not rob me of my joy or my happiness. No more baloney sandwiches for me!
Just saying …