Life Doesn’t Just Have to Happen
“Life happens!” “That’s life.” I have been hearing this a lot since I injured my wrist the other day. I currently only have one usable hand because of my injury. As a result of not knowing what the doctors were going to say or what appointments I may need to have, I rescheduled or canceled all of my meetings for this week. One of them was lunch with a friend, and she told me when I apologize that, “It’s okay, life happens.” This made me wonder what the definition of “life happening” really is, and why we think when challenging things occur that, “it’s just life.” Shouldn’t we be living life instead of allowing life to just happen?
If I was to live the life I wanted, I would embrace everything including an injured wrist. After my initial upset of realizing that this injury might mean weeks of not writing with a pen, crocheting, or lifting weights, let alone the disruption of daily routines, I decided to look on the brighter side of things. One of those brighter sides is that my children will need to step up and help around the house more, and also help me with some small daily activities. This will teach them responsibility and compassion. I am walking more than I usually do when I am at home because I can only carry one or two small items at a time instead of several items or a large item. So, while I am unable to lift weights, I am getting more walking in. And no, I will not use a basket or a bag to make carrying things easier; I want the challenge. I am learning how to be independent even when things are difficult. Buttering my toast in the morning is a special challenge all by itself because the toast won’t stay still on the plate, and forget putting my hair up without help. It really is amazing how many little tasks I took for granted before getting hurt. My mind shift happened when I thought of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark bite but did not stop surfing. If she can accomplish so much with a missing arm, I can handle a few weeks without the use of my hand. Life is all about perspective, it seems.
I think if we were to look at life not as something that happens to us but as something that we embrace, we would be happier. In general, when someone says that life happens or that’s life, they’re usually referring to something bad. The car gets a flat tire on the on the way to work, you get sick and are unable to meet obligations, you fall and break your wrist (ahem!), your dog runs off and lands in puppy jail, you owe back taxes, you forget to pay a bill and get stuck with late fees… really, the list is endless. It becomes something to get through or overcome. It is not something to enjoy. And maybe these are not necessarily enjoyable things but we can always learn from them and embrace the lessons. We can choose our mindset. Life is about perspective, after all.
People also say that life happens when they are overly busy. Busyness in our society seems to be a competition. When we see our friends, we are constantly comparing how busy we’ve been; we spend more time discussing the chaos of our lives instead of actually listening to what our friends have to say. To me, and this is also a choice. We make time for the things that are truly important to us. If it isn’t important, then it gets pushed to the side and we make the excuse of life being so busy that we don’t have time. I have a friend who is always busy with her children, work, and outside activities that she rarely has time to visit with me. Even when I needed her the most, she was unable to find a few minutes to talk to me. It was very hurtful, and I was angry at first. Now I think that it just means life is happening to her instead of her living the life she wants. However, this is my point of view, my perspective. I just know that I never want to be too busy to spend time with a friend.
I am not saying that I am the best at time management. Far from it, as I am the queen of procrastination! But I do limit my children to one activity each at a time. Three activities are enough to juggle for this mamma! I believe that if even one of my children had multiple things going on at one time, it would cause more stress for them and me. I also think that doing multiple activities at a time means less enjoyment for each activity. I have recently decided to embrace this concept for myself. (I’m not sure what it took me so long to realize the benefits for myself!) I enjoy volunteering and helping others but I know that I need to limit my volunteer time in order to give quality time to the people I am trying to help. I am also going to limit my personal projects to one at a time, instead of trying to take on several things at once and either not completing all of them or having them turned out to be subpar. Isn’t life also quality over quantity? We only have one life, so I would like it to be the best one that I have.
If you have chosen to skim in this article to the bottom, I want you to take away three things: Life doesn’t have to just happen to us. Life is all about perspective. And the quality of life is more important than the quantity of the things that we do.