Spring has sprung, and I need to stop and smell the roses. Too often I find myself thinking about the future, rather than seeing the good of what is currently happening around me. Maybe it is this time of year. Perhaps we all continue to experience the affliction known as “Senioritis” – when high school seniors cannot wait for summer to get here (from the moment March 1st arrives) and can focus on little else. Thoughts range from “Ugh. I can’t wait for school to be over” to “Summer is going to be so great!” Then I catch myself, and think: “Wait, wasn’t I just wishing and hoping for my kids to be back in the classroom?” During this crazy pandemic year, I stressed endlessly about what school would look like for my kids and all the clients with whom I work. What stops me from seeing the good in the now, without fast-forwarding to the next, better thing on the horizon?
In working with my clients recently, the overarching theme has been “When will this be over?” Everyone is looking to speed ahead into the future, without seeing the good stuff present right now. The blue skies and mild spring weather. The laughter. The outdoor reunion with friends after a cold winter. The jokes at the dinner table.
I’m guilty of this as well. Most mornings consist of getting everyone ready to run out the door, chasing behind them sweating after I have just showered for my day to start. I think: “How many more days until school is out?” In my hurry for these busy mornings to end, I am missing the fun of my kids picking out their hairstyles, leaving hidden notes for me, and the hugs as they leave the car. When I am able to stop and be present, I see that the rush is only a small fraction of the day. A day that is otherwise filled with promise and joy.
The everyday stresses can mount up and make us want to jump ahead to what seems like the greener grass. This reminds me of the fascinating premise for the not-very-funny movie “Click” with Adam Sandler. He gets a “universal remote” for his life. With it, he can take control of life events even as they unfold: freeze a scene, fast-forward, reverse, mute the sound, select the chapters of his choice, and skip those things he finds boring or unpleasant. What he discovered after decades of fast forwarding through the “bad” or tedious moments of life was that he had skipped those moments that, when added together, create a full, complete and rewarding life; he missed out on life itself.
Thankfully, there is no “universal remote” to feed some of our instincts to skip life’s mundane and less pleasant times. Instead, we have a new choice in every moment. How do we address these thoughts of annoyance or impatience when they are swallowing us up? We press pause. We throw on some rosy colored glasses that actually allow us to see more clearly, to give us that happier perspective. Pausing to look again, we can see the beauty in the now and just be. Look around. Take a mindful moment. Be grateful for even the smallest joy in your life. And when that is hard, it’s okay. A new moment is on the horizon. A new joy awaits.
Carolyn Abele, MS, LPC works with children, teens and families as well as individuals. She specializes in working with individuals with anxiety and depression, as well has helping children and their families with behavior related challenges. To connect with Carolyn, please call 215-354-7941 or visit her website at carolynabeletherapy.com.