Focus on the Positive

by Mary Ann on June 24, 2010

It is amazing how the every day events of our lives can teach us so many lessons. I am still thinking about my daughters wedding and all the things I relearned while putting that event together.

As I said, it was magnificent. We had friends come that we hadn’t seen for years. Some had moved here from our old stomping grounds in Montana and we just hadn’t reconnected. Some were old school friends that we see only occasionally. Some were old business partners. It was an amazing and eclectic gathering. It reconfirmed how many circles we have created throughout our lives and how wonderful relationships really are. We were so happy to reconnect with all these wonderful people who have shared portions of our lives and are still interested in who we are and what is happening to us.

I mentioned that despite everything not being perfectly organized, that the food was wonderful, the decorations amazing, the music delightful and it was a spectacular and splendid party.

Kate and Brady

Well guess what? Since the day after the wedding I have had little negative thoughts entering my head on a regular basis. Did I leave my old school friend Dava standing alone while I ran off to take care of some small thing? Why didn’t I say good by to that person or this person? Why didn’t I stay right by the dancing instead of making sure the cake was being cut? What did I miss, who did I miss? Why was I so worried about getting things cleaned up so soon? I should have sat down and eaten. Did I even have a conversation with each of my children? This was my daughters wedding. Did I enjoy it enough, or was I off taking care of something?You will surmise from this that I am a perfectionist of sorts, a driven person. I really like my finger in all the pies and I like things to get done and done right. That has been my method of operation all of my life and it has its upside and its down side for sure. I want to address that in another blog. However, what I want to focus on here is this tendency to dwell on the negative.

Here is what I did do. I let go of the outcome and let other people do what I would usually do myself. I laughed. I made myself not stand and cut cake for more than a few moments. I walked away from the food table and never went back, knowing that it was in capable hands. I made sure that Dava got to see my daughter who was preparing to leave. I danced the first and last dance with my husband. I saw my daughter having a fabulous time on her special day. I engaged in many fun conversations with friends and family. I hugged all of my children and smiled on them. I didn’t spend all of my time working or stewing or fretting, just some of it. I had a lot of fun. I breathed.

I did really well on a special, if stressful day. Everyone had a good time including me. It was a party to remember, so why the little niggling thoughts of all that I didn’t do? It is what most of us do. We focus on our lacks!

When I talk with parents about their family cultures or how their Spark Station is going that is what I hear, what isn’t going well. We tend to dwell on what isn’t right, on our mistakes and inadequacies.

Could I have mingled more, worried less, danced more, laughed more, stressed less? Sure! But what I did do was enough and my daughter will have so many great memories.

Could you be kinder, less stressed, more organized, wiser, more thoughtful; spend less time in the thick of thin things. Sure! But you are doing OK.

When we focus on what we aren’t doing well, what we don’t know or understand or how we are failing then we don’t leave room for joy. It is like guilt. If it moves us to better action then it is good. If it saps our confidence and makes us feel depressed and bad then it isn’t good. It is vital to remember that what we focus on we get more of. This is a principle and a principle is true in every situation, from a wedding to life. (Here is where a Family Mission Statement can help. It gives you a positive plan to focus on.)

So what I want to say is that as parents, trying new things, you have to give yourselves a break. You need to focus on what is right, what is working. Look quickly at what isn’t working or that needs to be changed and then make changes, move forward. But while you are doing that you need to hold in your mind what is working, what is happy, where you shine.

If we can do that our families will be happier, more joyful. We will gain confidence. We will smile more and we will have better memories. So when those niggling thoughts have come I have said to myself, “Yes, but remember…..” and I have replaced it with a thought about something at the wedding that made me happy or that I thought was wonderful. To tell you the truth, I am feeling pretty good about it!!!

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