This weekend, I had one of those perfect moments. You know those moments, when everything is exactly the way you like it. The weather is perfect, not too hot, but bright and sunny (which only lasts the first three weeks of May here in Florida). There’s a breeze, the birds are chirping like a Disney movie, the sun sets at 8:00pm in brilliant pink and orange, and the mosquitos haven’t invaded yet. The kids are playing nicely (but not too loudly), working together to build a fort (but not with the good towels) and no one is asking you what’s for dinner because you have no earthly idea nor do you give AF what is for dinner. Your favorite song comes on Pandora (the good, peppy version from Chill House Radio not the forlorn, miserable version you listened to in college) and by some miracle of Jesus, the last White Claw you pull from the fridge is not Black Cherry. That kind of moment.
Those moments are the best and if you’re lucky, they happen often. They also make the not-so-fun moments more bearable. And if you have kids, you might have several of those.
My kids argue a lot. And by a lot, I mean they spend every waking hour engaging in a perpetual tit-for-tat epic battle royale nightmare that drives me to the brink of my sanity. If they could fight in their sleep, they would. I have no doubt they dream about arguing with each other. Had I known that I would spend so much time listening to my kids yell, “That’s what you get!” after bonking the other on the head with the nearest object, I would have moved out so I could quarantine somewhere else. Like Alaska.
These boys argue about EVERYTHING. Who gets to sit where in the car, at the table, at the counter, on the couch. Who ate the last ice cream, the last slice of bread, the box of Cheezits. Who farted in the other’s room. What movie to watch on Netflix. How much syrup to put on a pancake.
We own no less than an acre of Legos. And yet somehow, one of them will inevitably attempt to use the one and only piece the other desperately needs. Every. Freaking. Time. Like how on earth in that mountain of Legos did they even find that one piece? That’s skill.
We have tried separating them. Punishing them. Yelling at them. Leaving the house and letting them survive on their own. Just kidding.
Once I made them clean each other’s room. That was brilliant, actually. They hated that. But then they argued about who cleaned up better.
If your kids argue like mine, my heart goes out to you. If you’re sitting there saying, “All kids fight, honey, you’ll be fine”, to you I say: shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!
I’m fully aware that I am being punished for the sins of my husband and his brother. They fought like crazy. So much so, their mother tells me, she was often brought to tears. I have been there. And I know that when she wished the same miserable fate upon her son that he inflicted on her, she didn’t intend that his wife would also suffer. And yet here I am. Suffering through my third Tito’s. On a Tuesday.
I recently read an article written by a Harvard Business School professor, Arthur C. Brooks, who teaches a course on happiness. He laid out three key equations to obtaining eternal bliss:
- Subjective well-being = genes + circumstances + habits
- Habits = faith + family + work
- Satisfaction = what you have ÷ what you want
This last equation has stuck in my brain like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth. Kinda annoying, but I can’t stop eating it.
“The fewer wants there are screaming inside your brain and dividing your attention, the more peace and satisfaction will be left for what you already have.”
At the beginning of this quarantine, I had big wants, big dreams. I’d have a banging bikini body. I’d write a book. Maybe even start my own podcast cooking show. The possibilities were endless!
Three months in and with reality closing in on me like a wet tent in a monsoon, my wants are now much smaller. I just want to hug my parents. Have a drink with my friends. And for the love of Christ, I would sacrifice my left foot to not hear kids scream, “That’s what you get!” 127 times a day.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer. I still have this want. Honestly, I hope it never goes away. But lately, instead of stressing over how I have failed at that dream, I’m starting to realize, I can simply not want it as much, or better yet, want it in a different way.
Jen Sincero teaches in her book, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, that all we really need to do to manifest happiness is open your heart to the universe and it will come to you.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine suggested we co-teach a yoga and writing workshop together. TBH, my first reaction was: Nope. I did not feel qualified to take on such a thing. I can barely crank out a blog every two months must less teach someone to write. It felt so…bold, so brazen of me to even consider doing this.
Being the yoga teacher she is, my friend calmly reminded me: I was qualified. I have a degree in English Education and another one in Journalism. I work in Marketing. I write all the time. And no one is better qualified than me to teach from my own experience.
It occurred to me that this gift was also exactly what Sincero told us would happen if we informed the universe we were ready for an opportunity to fulfill a want.
I started writing a curriculum and within days had built out a four-week course. I loved every minute I spent working on the exercises, researching the tactics, writing sample poems, weaving in the yoga practice. I found myself believing in my friend’s vision.
I reached out to others for feedback, pinged LinkedIn influencers I admired for their guidance, and I intentionally, purposefully have kept my wants small. If this venture turns out to be a giant flop, I will have succeeded in trying, in pushing myself to be uncomfortable, in leveraging an opportunity, and in enjoying a process that I very much missed.
Writing, for me, is an outlet to peace, just as yoga is to my friend. The beauty of yoga and writing is where it can take you: a place of healing, a place of power, a place of peace.
These things are exactly what many of us need right now. A release. A spark. A perfect moment.
I’m opening myself to the universe and keeping my wants small so that every opportunity that comes my way will be, in itself, a huge reward. I hope in some small way to help others find those happy moments by looking inward and expressing those thoughts through writing and moving your body. I hope to put goodness out there and receive goodness in return, because as my boys have taught me, whatever you put out there, that’s what you get.