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“Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques
Dormez poop? Dormez poop?”
“Stop it!” My daughter shrieked at her older brother’s mention of the word poop.
That one-room Airbnb rental with no tv, no wifi, and spotty cell service suddenly seemed like the worst idea. EVER. I also began questioning my ability to parent alone. Maybe, my husband staying behind wasn’t a great idea. Right then, selling my soul for peace and quiet seemed like a totally reasonable trade.
Eventually, my sweet gremlins drifted off to sleep. The soothing chirp of crickets filled the cottage, and I found the quiet that I desperately needed.
After reading for a little while, I noticed that my heart rate seemed elevated. My mind drifts to thoughts of what if there is something wrong with my heart and don’t wake up in the morning. Okay, this might seem like a stretch, but I have anxious thoughts and low-grade hypochondria. But, I digress.
The truth is we walk through life like tomorrow is promised, and it isn’t. What if that night was all the time I had with my kids? Is that how I would want them to remember me. Sullen and irritable because they wouldn’t go to sleep when I thought they should.
Instead of being grumpy, what if I chose to create memories and stopped resisting what was? The next two nights, my kids and I played Uno until they were sleepy. I reveled in hearing my daughter sassily promise paybacks whenever she lost. I also discovered that my son counts cards. Yes, I lost most of the games, but I still got my alone time. We all had more fun, too.
We riddle the present moment with so many “shoulds” and judgments. Judgments like my kids should be quiet, and they should go to bed. We create these detailed rubrics for what criteria needs to be met for us to be happy. For things to be just right.
The truth is most of us have all we need to be happy right now. It starts with embracing what is, practicing gratitude, and ultimately shifting our perspectives.
If you are interested in exploring this idea of choosing happiness without conditions, Untethered Soul by Michael Singer* is an incredible and thought-provoking read. I definitely recommend it! Hal Elrod (@halelrod) read a chapter of this book on his podcast that you can check out here.