Whether currently, or at one time or another in our lives, I think most of us have experienced the feeling of not having control in a situation, or not knowing what to do, or what is the best decision to make. Perhaps you’ve felt helpless, emotionally overwhelmed or as if you just couldn’t stand one more thing occurring. Being the mom of a child with profound special needs definitely generates those feelings in me on a frequent basis.
In my opinion, life is about learning to cherish every moment granted to us, especially the sorrowful or ordinary ones because each moment that passes us by holds eternal weight. I’ve identified three ways to encourage myself to retrain my daily focus – to learn, appreciate and soak up how each moment, happy or difficult adds value to the overall story of my life.
Seize the day
How often do we tell ourselves that we will call our friend later, start eating healthy, focusing on self-care or we’ll start working on accomplishing that life-long dream when the timing is right – then never actually do it? It seems that we are always putting things off because we tell ourselves that we don’t have time right now. If the Covid quarantine has taught us anything it’s that ‘timing’ isn’t the issue. What we may be lacking is the motivation or confidence to live for today and identify the value in the little things.
Regardless of the challenges each day may bring, and with special needs children those can be unique and plentiful, remember your WHY. Each day presents an opportunity, whether it’s large or small to push ourselves to grow and learn and appreciate the now. That is my WHY. By seizing the most out of each day, I’m modeling for my kids the importance of never settling and to keep seeking ways to turn lemons into lemonade.
Especially on days when I’ve lost my patience because my son has thrown his food to the floor and his hitting was at an all-time high, all while I was extremely sleep deprived, I recognize that how I handled those tough moments doesn’t define me or my entire day – but rather refines me and how I will handle adversity in the future. I instead choose to be grateful for the sweet family moments, random acts of kindness, laughter and the chance to experience it all again tomorrow.
Attitude is everything
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact a positive attitude has on one’s life. I truly believe a person’s attitude is more important than money, than failures or successes and certainly more important than outward appearances / social-media profiles.
We have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change how others act, the things they say (or post) or the inevitable outcome of many situations. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. We are in charge of our attitude!
I also hold onto a strong belief that everything happens for a reason. I wake up each day with the intention of smiling and laughing more while not wasting energy on gossip, negative thoughts or things beyond my control. The benefit of maintaining a positive attitude (and constant resetting throughout the day if needed) is that when situations go awry it’s so much more productive to laugh and develop an alternative solution rather than being stressed and angry.
While running through your daily routine, stop and appreciate the beauty in and around you
It so easy to become hypnotized by a daily routine and feel that everyday actions such as driving to work or coordinating therapy sessions are mundane and monotonous thus causing fatigue and burnout. I would wager that we don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.
We must remind ourselves that we are surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation and we ourselves are a part of that. Choose to focus on what you “get to” do versus what you “have to” do. Life is a gift not an obligation.
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” ― Earl Nightingale
*Published for TODAY Parenting – January 2021