My two children getting sick was actually good for me.
I mean, no one wants their kids to not feel well. Still, I had been in a mental and emotional rut in the weeks prior, and it took a week of being stuck at home in a sick house for me to fall back in love with my life.
Sometimes, we need to fall back in love with ourselves, and with our life as it is, right now.
While there is merit to looking ahead, to planning, and to dog-earing goals, hopes and possibilities, it’s equally important to pause and appreciate this ground that we stand on, right here and now.
Life isn’t always wonderful—I had some genuine stressors and reasons that I had been irritable and cranky this previous month. That said, this week was a solid reminder to me that our mood is often a choice—not always, but often. (And honoring unwelcome emotions and thoughts is also honoring being genuine and authentic, but wallowing is rarely positive.)
These following tips might not pay my bills, or babysit my kids for a night out with my husband, or bring world peace, but these habits, put into daily practice, will help me find more joy in today.
1. Stop overthinking.
I overthink a lot. (A lot, a lot.) That said, I believe in doing.
In other words, sometimes we need to stop thinking and take action. Nothing is more of a reminder of this than cleaning up puke or nursing sick children back to health.
So when my sister texted me yesterday that she hadn’t slept well and was also sick and just feeling not so wonderful, I texted back something along the lines of, “Stop overthinking and put on sexy boots. It’s hard to feel like shit in sexy boots.”
Boom. Moving on.
The main reason I finally got my head out of my own rear this past week was because, in giving to my husband and daughters as they didn’t feel their best, I was reminded of how much I, frankly, have to give.
I am a well of love and of capability. I needed to give, and be of service, to my family in order for me to reconnect with my energy that had been lacking and the happiness that is already right here in my living room.
3. Find gratitude.
While cleaning up vomit and worrying about a high fever certainly isn’t fun, cuddling two beautiful girls and watching the just-released Inside Out is pretty spectacular. Additionally, I felt thankful for our general health that makes these types of passing illnesses something kind of awful.
In short, there is nearly always something to be grateful for, and finding it, and giving a brief, silent moment of thanks for it, can be hugely beneficial.
4. Stop giving fucks away.
My two kids getting sick reminded me powerfully of what matters in life. It’s unfortunately easy to forget what matters.
What matters is not social media popularity. It’s not the size we wear. It’s not a new pair of jeans. What matters is, for me, simple: the two tiny bodies I was snuggling on the sofa and the larger one I kissed goodnight.
What matters, too, is my own self-care.
Unplugging almost completely from social media and my phone this week to be with my family made me internally ponder this question more than once: “If Facebook, social media and the internet in general suddenly ceased to exist, how would this impact my life?”
If no one was looking at a picture of the food we ate, or keeping in touch via comments on a picture of my kid, who would I, for example, still talk to, in “real” time?
We spent a lot of the early part of our week outside. The weather was unseasonably beautiful and warm, and I, in general, rarely take my phone with me when I’m playing with my kids, because the sky is always more beautiful when I look at it without a phone in the way. More, when I do stop to take pictures of my girls, the images never capture their beauty or the overall specialness of the moment as it happened. So I stopped trying.
Most of us give away far too many brain cells—and opportunities for happiness—wondering what other people think, or how we can be “better,” or focusing on what we’re lacking rather than what we already have. Checking back in with what—and who—is truly important in my life, I find again and again, makes all the difference in the world; in my world.
So, no, spending a week with sick kids didn’t make money grow on the tree in my backyard. It didn’t babysit my kids so I could write or call my best friend. It didn’t give my husband another day off so he could be home with us. But it did remind me where my life is already wonderful. I hope that next week, when my little world is healthier, that I use these tiny life practices to infuse more joy into my every, ordinary day.