When I was a child and would get angry with my siblings, I had this odd habit of yelling, “You hate me!” instead of the more common, “I hate you!”
Now that I am completely mature (okay, I really can’t say that with a straight face) I realize the reason I switched it up like that was because I was afraid to share what I really felt- which was indeed, at that moment, hatred toward one or both of my siblings.
I didn’t want to own that feeling, so I projected it onto them, making them the bad guys and absolving me of any guilt I might feel at actually (gasp!) hating my own flesh and blood.
Luckily, neither my sister nor my brother ever fell for my line and tried to convince me that no, they did not hate me. If I remember correctly, they just rolled their eyes and walked away.
(I still hate them.)
So. . . why am I sharing this story with you?
Because it relates to your ability to have a life you freaking love.
A life largely free of stress, drama, anxiety, and guilt.
A life where you’re in the driver’s seat, pedal to the metal, breezing through in the left lane, passing all the schmucks who are plodding along looking for the nearest exit so they can find the Tuesday Night Beer N’ Buffalo Wings Special.
Here’s the thing.
When you think about your life and whether you’re satisfied with it, it’s super important that you realize how much influence YOU have over how it shows up.
Q: So Helen, how much influence DO I have over how my life shows up, exactly?
A: 100%. Not a decimal point less.
You are living your life between your ears.
Don’t believe me?
Show me two people who experience any event EXACTLY the same way, and I’ll show you the genuine Louis Vuitton bag I bought from the trunk of a car on Canal Street in NYC.
Sure, you can and do have very similar experiences to other people, but the reality is, your experience will always vary slightly because of all the other things that have occurred in your life- as well as the thoughts, images, or soundtrack running through your head at the moment, and your very physiology.
(Are you breathing fast or slow, deep or shallow? Are you sweating? Cold? Are you tired or rested, grumpy or chipper, full from a big lunch or starving after not eating for hours?)
There is absolutely NO way you can experience anything in life the exact same way anyone else does.
Which means, naturally, that everything you experience is colored with the lens of your perception of it.
And that lens is installed where?
(I can hear you party people say, Between my ears! Damn you’re smart.)
So here’s the thing, and why my little “You hate me” story is relevant.
If you, like most people, are turning the tables and expecting to love your life BEFORE you love it back — I’m here to tell ya, it ain’t gonna happen.
See, most people decide that what’s really important is to wait and wait and wait (and wait and wait) until something comes along that lights a spark within them.
That something could be a new lover, a great job, fresh digs in a swank part of town, a hot pair of shoes, or even a sexy night at the club.
And until that new thing comes along, most people (hey, guilty as charged) decide that they just won’t love their lives.
In essence they’re saying, “You hate me!” to their innocent lives, gripping their shovels in their mad little fists, and stomping out of the sandbox.
(Poor sad little life, what did it ever do to you?)
And I get it. I mean, it’s hard to face the truth that you might be hating your life.
But the reality is, as long as you are not openly admitting that YOU have a responsibility to love your life — to care for it tenderly, ask it what it needs to thrive, and then give it exactly that — you are destined to sit there wondering why the only thing that ever seems to show up in your life is crap.
With that said, there are some super-simple strategies you can use to start loving your life right now (so it can start lovin’ you back right now, baby!).
In fact, anytime you find yourself feeling like turtle turds, you can turn to these 3 questions to steer you away from crazy and back to a place of crazy good.
Life-lovin’ question #1: What moment am I living in?
Here’s a shocker.
There is actually no other moment but this present one.
Yesterday has already happened and can’t be changed (at least until my friend’s neighbor’s son finishes that time machine he’s working on).
And it’s anyone’s guess what will REALLY happen tomorrow, since there are things like weather, natural disasters, illness, injury, and (yes, still) terrorism.
And there are also miracles— miracles that can make you weep with unexpected joy, just when you felt like giving up.
And then there’s everything in between.
Which is exactly what life is made of.
We all know this, yet we continue to re-live yesterday (or 10 or 20 years ago) in our minds, trying to undo what we think we should have never done, or redo what we think should have never ended.
And we continue to daydream about tomorrow (or 5 minutes or 5 years from now) when this-or-that will be happening, and we’ll be acquiring a cool new thingamabob, marrying Prince Charming, living in our dream home, rolling in $$$, and sporting perfect abs - and THEN we can finally start enjoying life.
Problem is, that day may never come, and you will have wasted all the amazing, miraculous days you did have in that whole not-enjoying-your-life-right-now deal.
Hear this one loud and clear:
This. Moment. Is. All. There. Is.
Stay in it.
Revel in it.
And when your thoughts have you wading in deep doo-doo, ask yourself, Am I in this present moment, or am I in a moment I have abso-freakin-lutely NO control over?
Life-lovin’ question #2: Whose business am I in?
In any given moment, you’re in somebody’s business, whether your own or someone else's.
Meaning, you’re deciding what you or someone else ‘should’ be doing, saying, feeling, or expressing.
Your goal, if you want to live a crazy good life, must be to stay in your OWN business as much as freaking possible, and out of everyone else’s.
What do I mean?
Staying in your own business simply means that you don’t decide how others feel, what they think, or whether they’re doing their lives right.
Here’s what it looks like.
When your husband says he’s tired, you accept that he may actually be tired and need some rest, rather than taking offense that he isn’t supportive if you, and assuming that he probably is just saying he’s tired because, actually, he has fallen out of love with you.
When a car cuts you off in traffic, you decide it is not your responsibility to correct the driver’s rude behavior (which may actually been unintentional) by cursing him out, honking your horn, and displaying various hand gestures- but that your responsibility is to simply avoid an accident and continue driving. You’ll get there.
When your friend doesn’t pick up the phone even though you really, really, really needed to talk to her right now, you realize that she may be sick, her phone battery may have died, her grandmother might be in the hospital, or she may just be feeling sad or scared herself and doesn’t have the energy to support anyone right now- and you totally, absolutely forgive her for not ‘being there’ in your time of need.
YOU are the only person you have any control over anyway, so why would you want to expend a bunch of energy trying to control anyone else?
Take that energy and invest it in a regular exercise routine, a new hobby, a creative pursuit, a business.
Side benefit: when you stay out of other peoples’ business, they suddenly seem to get a lot more considerate, loving, and respectful of you.
Life-lovin’ question #3: What have I not yet given?
One of my favorite life-defining quotes comes from A Course In Miracles and goes like this.
Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.
This is a tough one for many to take, because we are so accustomed to equating giving with parsing out little (or huge) chunks of ourselves to others with nothing in return.
What it really means, though, is that giving is the source of all getting.
When you think of it, you really can’t control what you get in life — but you can always control what you give.
And what if we viewed giving not as taking away from something in ourselves, but as a proactive choice to take part in our lives?
What I mean is this.
Giving does not necessarily mean ‘giving away’. It might mean ‘giving towards’ or ‘giving into’.
Think about it. In any given situation, you could give:
- Yourself a break
- Forgiveness (to yourself or another)
- Benefit of the doubt
- A compliment
- Enough effort to that project
- Genuine joy for others’ success or happiness
- Credit to someone who deserves it
Yes, you can give something to yourself or any other person, any time you like. You can choose to give rather than to cling to the impotent hope of receiving.
And in giving, you will receive.
You’ll receive so much more joy, happiness, and success than you could ever imagine.
And that’s it, in a nutshell.
Three simple questions, endless possibilities for freedom and joy.
Try it the next time you’re stuck in traffic, bummed out about the weather, checking your text messages obsessively, or bored to tears on a Sunday afternoon.
Try it and let me know what you think!