Some people are not naturally (or easily) happy people. Some have to try a little harder to tamp down their pessimist and embrace their optimist. Some like me, might have a lifelong job of working towards having a healthy relationship with their optimist. But, I have recently found a new game I like playing, which has helped in increasing the overall “happy” in my life. It’s called the, “What IF?” game and it goes like this:
Me: It’s been a very long, hard day and I really don’t want to do laundry. I want to sit and watch bad reality television.
Pessimist Me: That’s not what you should be doing. You should be doing laundry. And maybe even a quick work out.
Me: But I’m so tired…
THE GAME: What IF, you did just what you want to do right now - sit and watch tv and not worry about the laundry? Will the laundry be there tomorrow?
THE GAME: Does everyone have enough clean clothes to get out the door in the morning?
THE GAME: So, no one will have to go to work/school in dirty underwear and you get to relax. CAN YOU LIVE WITH THAT?
And so I sit and watch television, eat a bowl of ice cream and I get up 10 minutes early in the morning to put the laundry in. Win!
It’s a relatively simple game. As soon as I start hearing my pessimist talking – telling me what I should be doing or thinking, how I should be feeling or that I am “bad/wrong/lazy,” I stop and ask myself What IF? What IF the dishes stay in the sink all night, I wait one more day to pay the electric bill, I don’t make the healthiest of dinners for my kids or I have an extra glass of wine at night? I ask, “Can you live with that?” I work through how or if that decision will REALLY affect my life. If the answer is YES, then I shut down the pessimist and move on.
I'd found that so much of my life was being spent listening to the pessimist in me; the part of me who was always worrying, always feeling like a failure because I didn’t do or say the right thing. I wasn’t enjoying my life anymore! I was tired, frazzled, over-scheduled and angry. There was no award handed out at the end of a hard week, where I had told myself it was too indulgent to sit and enjoy a good book, or order pizza because I was just plain tired and didn’t feel like cooking. No one said thank you for ensuring the house was spotless, in fact, my boys complained I cleaned too much. I didn’t sleep better at night knowing the laundry was finished. Instead, I found something else to worry about, like the full dishwasher or the long to-do list for the next day.
By starting to ask What IF, I saw that there was one person to blame for my tired, grumpy, pessimistic disposition – me! I’d fallen into the trap of telling myself this is what was expected of me, this is what I should be doing if I was a good mother or wife. My pessimist had run amok and my decisions were based out of fear and shame instead of honesty. So I decided to stop blindly listening to my pessimist and start asking myself, if each decision was really the best decision.
Sometimes I find the pessimistic voice is right, I really do need to get some exercise even if I am tired, because at the end of the day, it WILL make me feel better (and sleep better). Yes, I do need to pay the bills and get my oil changed. But most of the time, I found the things that were making me feel the worst, were truly silly. Let the laundry sit another day, let the floors be a bit dirty. Don’t say yes to hosting the HOA meeting because you don’t HAVE to. And by simply taking the time to look at my decisions and question their validity, I have found more happiness, more time for enjoyment in my life and less judgment. What IF my house is not perfect, dinner is pizza with my family and I eat a third cookie?
Can I live with that? YES!!!