Looking on the bright side

Rick Lowe

A while back—say, around Thanksgiving or so—I was doing some of that heady, introspective thinking I tend to do when life’s stresses put me in danger of a meltdown. And I started counting my blessings, so to speak. I had a major epiphany that completely shifted the gears of the way I look at everything: it’s not that bad. Simple as that.

What do I mean? I’ll use the process of negation to show you: I don’t have a crippling disability, disease, disorder or anything that can’t be easily treated. So I get some allergy attacks every now and then, where I use an entire box of tissues in one go. It could be worse.

I don’t have a kid to take care of, or a parent, or a relative, or anyone else depending on me for anything. I may not necessarily be self-sufficient, but I’ve got no dependants. I don’t have a girlfriend, so it’s not like she’s distracting me from finishing my final semester here.

I’ve got no one hounding me about my money. Yet. I’ll be having to pay off student loans, but those are straightforward—it’s not like I’ve got five or more credit cards sucking me dry. Gas may be expensive, but $20 is enough for about a week of back-and-forth between GV and my apartment.

This sort of thinking picked me up for a while, but recently I pushed myself a bit too hard at the gym and to make things worse, the only thing I’d eaten that day was a pack of zebra cakes. Bad, bad idea. It depressed me for about a day, and I really beat myself up. I mean seriously, telling myself things like “no wonder you’re so out of shape you disgusting wuss,” things that I would backhand other people for if they said them to me.

But then I remembered this past realization of mine: it’s not that bad. I just had an off-day. I learned a lesson the hard way: you need real food if you’re going to be active, not processed delicious frosted cream-filled garbage. I’m slowly starting to get off of my own back about my physique and appearance, reminding myself that I’m not a Sim who can lift weights for four hours straight and get buff within a day or two, that I’m a work-in-progress and that every workout gets me closer to what I want. I’ve just got to learn my limits. I’m nowhere near achieving the physical fitness goals I’m aiming for. But at least I have something to strive for!

What do I want you to take away from this thing you just read? Think about all the annoyances, the errands, and the little things in your life. Then compare them to the big things—the major issues. Do you really need a bunch of little annoyances nipping away at your heels while you try to deal with the monstrous things? Look around you, at other people—at the problems in their lives they choose to share with you. Are your problems really that bad compared to theirs?

I asked myself that, and the answer was “no.” I don’t have ulcerative colitis or VD or a newborn baby or a weight problem or an never-pleased-with-my-work boss or piles of bills to pay or gray hair or a “breaks down every other day” car… There’s a whole world of bad things out there that are not a part of my life, and with that knowledge in mind I can grab a second cup of coffee and think “it’s not that bad.”

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