I am realizing more and more how important it is to not let my mood be ruled by outside events. I have been working hard to breathe, to focus on being thankful for the good things in my life, and to look for grace. No matter what external forces are acting upon my day to day existence, no matter how out of control events in my life seem to be, I can control the way I choose to respond.
In the last couple of weeks, I have met with a few unfortunate circumstances. I was staying committed to running on the treadmill every morning. Until one morning, when I took the last step into the basement and felt my foot splash into several inches of water on the floor. The water has been cleaned up, but my treadmill has not recovered from its soaking. Also, our van was in an accident, totalled by a reckless driver while parked and unoccupied. Our dogs have had some health issues that, when multiplied by three, have cost us both time and money at the vet’s office.
If I were to dwell on these misfortunes, I could find myself annoyed, angry, depressed. I must admit, I have had a couple of moments with these emotions. For the most part, though, I have not let these troubles get me down. I have realized something important. I may not be able to control the things that happen. What I can control is the way I respond to these events. I can view them as lessons, from which I can learn about myself and learn to have empathy for others. What I can control is whether I dwell in negativity or lift myself up with thoughts of gratitude and grace.
Yesterday, I took the bus home from work. I found myself thinking about the other people on the bus. I wondered how many of them were struggling with misfortunes much worse than those I have been facing. I could feel my heart reaching out to the people riding the bus with me. I found them all to be very lovable and beautiful: the little boy blowing his whistle, the college student from Nepal, the loud talker on her phone, the baby girl with the runny nose, the working man with his muddy boots, the teenage girls popping their gum. For a few minutes on the bus, I was able to get beyond my usual attitudes and barriers and come into contact with the life pulsing around me on that bus.
I realize that I was open to others because of my own recent problems. I became very thankful for the misfortunes that had led me to communion with my fellow passengers. As often happens, my less than ideal situations had been turned into blessings. My eyes were opened again to the grace all around me in the world.