On Resisting the Urge to Change Things and Learning to Appreciate What Is

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One of the weaknesses that I’ve recently noticed I’ve developed is that when I’m at home, or with my family, I often see the need to change things somehow. If it’s our home, I feel the need to purge stuff, or organize something, or clean something. Sometimes I just look around and sigh, because IT. NEVER. ENDS. I think my feelings are understandble. With 5 year old, 2 year old and infant, messes come with the territory.

Sometimes I feel the need to change my family members. Sometimes I can’t stand how messy my daughter’s hair is, and I absolutely need to brush it before I do anything else. Sometimes I stress about all the mistakes she makes as she’s learning to write. She in Kindergarten for crying out loud. I mostly leave my two year old alone, because well, she’s two, but she does throw the most stereotypical two-year-old tantrums, and I try to think of ways to keep her calm.

And then there’s Keola, who’s an amazing husband and father in so many ways, and yet I often find myself running a list of things I wish I could change about him – most of which are things that we just don’t see eye to eye on, and that’s ok. Sometimes I think my life would be easier if we always had the same opinion about everything (or at least that my opinion was the only one that mattered) but I doubt that’s ever made for a good marriage.

While I’m mostly this way with my family, I have noticed myself being increasingly critical of all sorts of things throughout my day. Why did they build they wall there? I can’t see the oncoming traffic. Why is that sign so small? Why is it taking so long to see the doctor?

Shouldn’t my common sense be everyone’s common sense? After all, don't we call it "common" because everyone agrees on it?

But then I thought about things that I generally don’t try to change, like nature. I don’t go around coloring white flowers purple, moving birds’ nests from the tree to the ground, trying to change the course of the wind. I simply let those things be, and appreciate them for what they are.

When I was younger, I accepted just about everything this way, and rarely thought anything should be different. I easily saw the good in people and was slow to criticize. I didn’t complain about the high school and college I attended and the way they were run. I didn’t complain (too much) about the student jobs I had. I really didn’t have much of anything negative to say about my professors or my friends or roommates. In fact, I often wondered why my friends were so critical of some of these things/people.

I guess adulthood has made me “wiser?” Now I can see a million ways to improve on everyone and everything, but the truth of the matter is that being critical sucks away at my happiness, and takes away my ability to see the positive qualities in any given moment (and there are positive qualities to just about everything.) That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage and worthy causes and try to make the world a better place, but when the majority of what we notice are things that are wrong with the the world, society, my spouse, kids, house, HAIR, etc., we waste a lot of time, energy, effort and headspace on things that should for the most part, just be allowed to be.

This blog of course, can potentially talk a lot about change. I still want an orderly home, a healthier diet, a better hold on our finances, etc., but at the same time it's also about being grateful, appreciating each moment  and cultivating happiness. I think it's possible to do that without feeling the need to change things or think about what it’s lacking. Sometimes what needs to change the most is not what we’re looking at, but the way we see it.