I wrote this a couple months ago, and I wanted to share it because it really goes to show the power of the meanings we give to things, even with things outside our control. I hope this may help you to reframe the meanings you currently give.
I have been sick with a cold the past 4 days. It first started with a sore throat, and then it transitioned into a fever. And then into a runny nose. And then into coughing. And now it’s a mixture of them all together!
But what has surprised me about being sick this whole time is that it is not what has bothered me the most. All the physical symptoms had taken a backseat in my focus. Then what was it?What bothered me the most was I personally felt “bored”, “restless”, “unfocused”, and “unproductive” while I was sick. I was feeling these ideas so strongly yesterday that without much thought I spent 2 hours cleaning my house and then going grocery shopping. If someone else was with me, they likely would have advised me to stay in bed and give my body time to recover.
Add onto that, shopping and cleaning were not even top priorities for me! But I was telling myself: “I have to to something with my time”. And when I did these things I felt “accomplished”, “proud”, “satisfied”, and “productive”.
If I have to guess as to why I did this, I think one big reason is I haven’t been this sick in a very long time. I can remember the last time I was sick, but that only lasted a day. 4 days is something I am not used to. I expected to be feeling much better by now, and basing it off my past experiences wasn’t the smartest idea. Nonetheless it contributed to how I felt about the situation.
As I sit and continue to reflect on this, there’s a great quote I’m applying to my situation:
“Trade your expectations for appreciation.”
So I decided to do just that. I expected to not be sick this long, and I felt disappointed. But instead I’m now flipping my thoughts to be appreciative: being sick here and now is a wake-up call for me. Now is a time where I have the privilege to further reflect on what I’m currently feeling, to be aware of the meanings I’m giving to the situation, and witnessing my reactions to them.
Now that I think about it, the idea of being “productive” is also subjective. If you ask ask 5 different people, you’ll get 5 different answers. For me, being “productive” was about staying focused on my goals, taking action on my future, my aspirations, and my fitness. It was not about focusing on the next time I had to blow my nose or cough into my sleeve.
But again, to turn this into an appreciative focus: being “productive” for me can also be diving deeper within myself, asking myself questions, meditating to experience a state of mind where my sickness is no longer a primary focus.
So, the next time things aren’t going your way: switch to gratitude. Focus on what you have vs. what you don’t have. Focus on how the situation could be far worse than how you’re experiencing it. Remember these feelings you have are only temporary if you let them be.
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