Last night, after a nice and relaxing forty-five minutes at the park walking and playing in the little playground there, I went home and did some self-reflecting. It wasn’t easy, considering my son’s energy must not have been fully expended by that point as he was jumping on the bed and hitting me with pillows. But as I sat there, mindlessly watching Celebrity Apprentice that I’d recorded on the DVR and fending off multiple polyester-filled missiles, my thoughts turned to that of self-assessment.
I realized that I really couldn’t be happier. Sure I could always use more money, a bigger house, and a better wardrobe. I’d love to get an in-ground swimming pool. Heck, I’d love to just quit my job and spend hours and hours every day with my son, relaying to him the abundance of mostly useless knowledge I have stored up in my noggin. He’ll be three in a couple of weeks, and sometimes I feel like I’ve missed a lot of opportunities with him being in daycare all day long. Then again, there are some dads out there that travel for work, only seeing their kids a couple of nights a week, and those guys miss out on a lot more than I do.
But yeah, I’m a pretty happy guy. I don’t have many problems. I mean, yeah, I could always be in better shape. We are planning a trip to the beach this summer, and a couple of my trip companions are concerned about their beach bodies. I think I’m personally less concerned with my body image as I am with my overall health. As far as my physique goes, my son says I look like the Hulk. I laugh, thinking I probably look more like the Blob. Hopefully my skin doesn’t have a greenish tint to it that I’m not aware of. And I hope he doesn’t dwell on the rare times I get angry. Everyone gets upset every once in a while, some more often than others, but I try to limit it as much as possible around him. I don’t want him growing up in an environment where yelling is normal and accepted. I try to laugh and be humorous with him as much as possible. I’m also a pretty mellow guy by nature, so that helps.
Some people aren’t, though. A couple of months ago, during the early evening hours, I just happened to look out the window and saw some guy pull over on the side of the road right across from my house. He got out, walked around to the other side of his car, dragged a six-year-old kid out of the back seat, and began “paddling” him senselessly. The kid was screaming and crying, and the guy tossed him back in, then came back to the other side and did the same with what appeared to be a four-year-old. At that point I was up, down the hallway, and was standing outside my front door with my arms crossed, glaring at him. He glanced over at me with a fury-filled, beat-red (as opposed to beet-red) face, said absolutely nothing, got in the car and sped off down the road as if nothing had happened. I can’t say it was child abuse, as he did only smack them on their behinds, but there was something in his demeanor and the viciousness of the paddling that made me think that wasn’t the first or last of his temper.
I guess some people just aren’t meant to have children. Perhaps conception was an accident, or maybe they were just careless. Maybe a sixteen-year-old female, on the advice of her thirty-two-year-old mother, told her boyfriend she was taking birth control but wasn’t, hoping to get pregnant so that she could force him and his family to pay child support, just as her mother had done before her. Or maybe they really did want kids, but their own upbringing was so screwed up that they don’t know how to raise them. Or maybe a parent just snapped, just one blue-moon moment where that guy just couldn’t take it any longer, but instead of working through his anger calmly on his own, he unfortunately decided to take it out on his kids. Who knows?
Some people turn their anger inward on themselves. They wallow in their misery, hoping for a pity party from anyone who will listen to them. Some of these cases may be legitimate illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder, but many just seem to live their lives crying “why me?” while the world passes them by. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read Facebook posts or Tweets by people complaining about their lives or their problems. I feel so sorry for those people—not because they have love-life issues or that they are crazy busy while suffering from a migraine. I pity them because they use social media to air their problems, because they don’t seem to have anyone else in their lives to talk to, and because they refuse to focus and see all the positive things in their lives rather than dwelling on the negative.
I’m sure those same people would look at me and say, “Well, you don’t know me, Ryan. You don’t know what I have to deal with.” But that’s the unequivocal and grandiose problem and answer right there. Why are you comparing yourself to me? Why do you think the grass is greener in my lawn? Yeah, I did use Scott’s TurfBuilder, but I did it because I had a huge dandelion problem—not to play Keeping Up with the Joneses. Yeah, possibly I make more money than you, but there are a lot of people out there that make a lot more money than me. Yeah, maybe I don’t have your health problems, but I’ve had my fair share of them—including a broken skull, ruptured appendix, etc. We could go back and forth all day, and what would it accomplish? Would you be any happier? Probably not.
Take a serious look at your life and ask yourself what you have to be thankful for. I’m certain you’ll find more than you realize. And when you do, embrace it. Cherish it. Open the curtains and the windows and breathe in a nice big breath of fresh air. Go for a walk or even a run if you are physically able. I think you’ll find, if you do that, that your life really isn’t all that bad. And if you really do have a serious issue in your life that you are dealing with or need to deal with, perhaps that newfound positive vibe will help you tackle it. Because I can assure you, the “woe is me” attitude won’t.
And remember, being angry at the world doesn't solve anything either. Not only does it raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for serious health issues (like getting your butt kicked), but it wastes your time and energy that could be better spent enjoying life or improving yourself. Besides, you look pretty silly with that angry face. Right? Yeah, who are you kidding?