I confess. I judge you.
When you complain about your silly non-problems on Facebook, I fail at holding back an eye-roll.
I read recently about someone’s worst morning ever. The water in their shower took forever to heat up, so they were running late for work. And then as they were walking out the door, coffee spilled all down their shirt! They, of course, had to run back in and change. When they finally got to I-95: barely moving traffic. Worst. Morning. Ever. #fml
I’ve imagined what it would be like if we switched bodies. If my brain got to experience “your” worst morning ever, and “you” got to be me. But not on a bad day – on a perfectly fine day for me!
You’d wake up, laying on your side as I do. With monumental effort, you’d roll onto your back, and then realize… you can’t get up. You can’t even sit up. Terror would flood your mind. Eventually, someone would come in, and you quickly surmise they are going to bathe you, dress you, and help you into this wheelchair you somehow have. You call your family, who rush to you – devastated. Everyone is crying. A doctor is summoned, who informs you that you have cerebral palsy. You will be this way for the rest of your life. You’ll need help not only bathing and dressing, but cutting your food, using the bathroom, and a billion other things. You’ll never again be able to cook, drive, pick up a baby, play a sport, learn an instrument, be on top during sex, live alone, and so on. “My life is over,” you sob. You consider suicide. Your friends and family, when talking privately in hushed tones, wonder if that might be the kindest and smartest option.
Meanwhile, I’ve woken up as “you” on the #worstmorningever. I’m puzzled and excited when I just… stand up and get out of bed on my own. I walk to the shower, amazed I’m even walking. The water takes a while to heat up, but I couldn’t care less about the temperature. I’m showering on my own! This is the greatest shower in the history of showers. After showering and drying off, I can’t believe I’m dressing myself unassisted. I go to the kitchen, make and pour myself coffee without having to ask another soul at all for help, and then head out the door. As I’m walking out, the coffee spills all down my shirt. “Oh no,” I say, immediately thinking how I’m going to need to recruit someone to help me change my shirt, clean up the coffee. And then I realize… I can just change it myself. I don’t have to bother anyone. And three minutes later, I’m walking back out the door in a fresh shirt – no big deal. I get in the car and start driving to work. On my own. No one has to drive me. There’s traffic, but what do I care? This is incredible. It’s the greatest day of my life.
This might be a bit much, but the circumstances are real. Our perspective, expectations, and capacity for gratitude completely change the lens through which we experience the world. Your terrible morning might be the best day of my life. Consciously choosing to alter your perspective in real-time, or even in hindsight, is difficult, but entirely possible without practice. And as much as you can do it, increasing happiness and acceptance waits on the other side.
And when you complain about your trivial BS, I’m judging you.