More than one million packages are returned following the Christmas gift giving season…
Yikes, that’s a lot of unwanted presents! Did you return any presents? How do you think you fared with the gifts you gave – any of those you think likely got returned? I’d chat with you about the whole concept of gift giving and how ‘out of hand’ it’s gotten for most of us, but instead I want to share about ‘returns’ in a much different way… here goes…
If you could return any of the ‘events’ that happened to you in 2018, what would they be? Would you return that negative review you received from your boss? Would you return that time when the clerk serving you was surprisingly rude? Would you return those days when your children seemed deliberately disobedient? Would you return all those rainy days we had? Would you return that surprise snowstorm that caught everyone unaware and created traffic havoc? Speaking of traffic, would you return all those hours you sat in traffic jams on your way home from work? Would you return that month when you simply were overwhelmed with depression? Would you return that diagnosis your doctor gave you? Or gave to someone you love?
Or… would you accept and believe that somehow, these events in your life happened for a reason?
Michael J. Fox, well known actor who has publicly struggled with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, wrote, “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that it is what it is, and there’s got to be a way through it.” And he also said, “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
When I first read that second quote, I thought it to be negative… I mean, wouldn’t we want to expect the best… wouldn’t we want to expect that our lives could be free from those times of frustration, pain, loneliness, grief and more?
And although everything within me wants to should out, “YES!” to the above questions, I believe that it is those very times, those very things, those very experiences that deepen us, that mature us, that make us stronger. Could we take that negative review from a boss and become better in our job and better able to accept criticism with grace? Could we turn that disgruntled clerk conversation around with a smile and a kind word? Could we… this is harder… take that diagnosis and make every moment count? Could we… harder yet… take that grief and refocus it on good memories shared and the joy of having loved so much? Martin Luther King wrote, “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
My word for 2019, by the way, is hope… hope not only for a better future, but hope for lessons to be learned from past mistakes, hope for contentment in any situation… simply hope… a word that impels us to move forward with a positive spirit.
An ancient Chinese proverb reminds us that, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” I’m going to try to do better at not wanting those difficult times in my life to go away (or be returned!), but to accept that this is part of growth in my life… growth that will make me a stronger, more resilient and better person. How about you… are you with me?