A few months ago I took a mindfulness course. As part of it I was supposed to write a Gratitude Letter. This is a letter to someone who has had...
A dose of perspective
A few weeks ago I had a very alarming experience. As I was making my bed in the morning, I found a bug lying dead in the sheets. If I had found it in a corner on the floor I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but it was a BUG in my BED! So of course I googled “bed bug” images and the pictures looked identical to my little critter. I immediately FREAKED OUT. I washed every linen, stuffed animal, pillow and piece of clothing from two bedrooms and gave the house a more thorough vacuuming than it had had in months (probably years). My life seemed to turn upside down in an instant. I would have to tell people close to me and everyone who would normally come to my house. This would cost me thousands of dollars and much mental stress. No one would want to come near me, my husband or our kids. We would be dirty and blacklisted. I felt sick and was shaking all morning. I finally had a window of time to take my bug to public health in the afternoon to have it analyzed. They took one look at it and told me it was not a bed bug. I cannot describe my feeling of relief. Suddenly, I was so happy and it didn’t matter at all what else happened to me. I didn’t have bed bugs! So the house was a mess, I was scrambling for a work deadline, dinner wasn’t planned, I had a million chores to deal with … nothing could bother me because I didn’t have bed bugs. I felt like I had won the lottery. I was the happiest person alive!
It then occurred to me how easy it is to make myself incredibly happy. Just pay attention to how good I have it compared to a potentially worse scenario.
So I thought I would apply this way of thinking to my running. I’ll admit it; I get frustrated when I’m not running as well as I would like, and when my runs don’t feel great I can get a little down. I would love to feel happy about running all the time. So why don’t I just remember how bad it could be? I’m not ill, I’m not injured, I’m not incapable of finding time to fit it in, I’m not lacking for great running partners, I don’t live in an area which makes it dangerous or impossible for me to run. I am really grateful for all of this, and when I think about it it does make me appreciate my situation and running a bit more. But sometimes you just can’t replicate the sense of gratitude and happiness you feel when you really are faced with a negative alternative and come out on the positive side.
I will continue to work on being thankful for what I have and taking nothing for granted – in life and in running. And in the meantime, I have learned another very important life lesson: do not to let your kids jump in the leaves outside and then jump on your bed.