Thursday, October 8, 2015

Anything for you, Betty

Yesterday I helped an elderly couple.  This is not them, nor is this my photo, but the lesson they taught me from their short time in my office spilled over me so I feel like I should share.
Now, I am going merely on speculation and observation, so I am drawing my own meaning from what I witnessed, but sometimes that's the message we need to hear being projected onto someone else's situation.
The lady (we'll call her Betty) came to order some glasses.  She seemed in a hurry, wanting me to show her exactly what she wanted without telling me what features she likes/doesn't like.  I chose a frame as a starter, hoping she'd tell me what she did or didn't like about it so we could help narrow down from nearly 700 choices in my store.  She immediately took the first frame and sat down.  Her husband sweetly told her that she looked beautiful in the frames and that she should get them.  With a deep scowl, Betty made a comment about how she'd likely chosen the most expensive frame in my store, but her husband told her, "Get exactly what you need, you are worth it!" and he reached over to lovingly pat her hand.  I asked her if she wanted all of the same features on this pair as she had on the last and she hesitated and her husband chimed in, "Anything for you, Betty.  Get some nice glasses!"  Betty sat quietly with pursed lips and waited for me to calculate her total, and when I told her the price, she nudged her husband to get his credit card out to pay for them, without looking at him.  He smiled brightly and handed me his card and I proceeded to charge them for the glasses.  As I got up to get the receipts off the printer, Betty's husband confirmed that the glasses were really becoming on her and started whistling happily.  When they were finished paying, I thanked them and they got up to go.  Betty, obviously more agile, started walking toward the elevator, saying she didn't feel like taking the stairs again, her husband slowly straightened out to standing nearly upright, I could tell he was stiff or in pain, and smiled at me so sweetly and said, "I could really use the exercise but she thinks I'm too slow." Upon which he caught up to his wife at the elevator and they left.
During the course of the day, my husband and I were discussing something and there was a heaviness in our conversation, an unpleasant undertone and it made me think back to Betty.  She seemed to have a husband who is attentive, compromising and cares for her on such a deep level and yet, she seems completely miserable.  How can you be miserable when you have such a sweet, caring person in your life?  Does she not see the good thing she has?  Does being treated like a princess make her irritated?  What kind of bitter things do you have to hold in your heart to get to a point where you are just never seeing the good in your situation?  But some of us live that way because we hold on so tightly to what we think life should be like that we are disappointed when it doesn't turn out that way.  We didn't get the promotion or the house we wanted, we didn't finish college or make the cut in some other area of our lives; we didn't get down to a certain size jeans or we weren't successful at our weight loss goals.  Our spouse said "I love you", but they didn't take out the trash like we'd wanted.  What Betty's story reminded me of is that happiness is a choice, it's a choice to see the good things you have in your life despite any shortcomings, real or perceived.  It reminded me of this Geneen Roth post:
So true.  When we allow ourselves to get caught up in what's bad or wrong, it is a hard place to get out of.  I don't know Betty or her story, not really, but I know when I get to a point of feeling miserable, it is usually because I am failing to see the good things in my life, and from experience I can tell you that a miserable person attracts more misery to themselves. 
In the end, my husband and I talked through what we needed to work out and we are fine.  And despite my gut reaction to feel bad about myself for what I saw as my shortcoming in this situation, I felt better that we talked about it.  He loves me enough to want to work through stuff, that is a huge deal.  If I chose to only think about all the bad stuff then I guess I'd think my life is a pretty miserable one to live.  But, right here, and this day; this week, this moment, there are a multitude of things that are not miserable in my life, and I'd rather try to look at those for a while.  I think the more practice we get appreciating all the things that are "not wrong" with our life, the easier it becomes.  Whatever mindset you have willed will prevail.  If you allow yourself to see the positive things you already have in your life, you will be a more positive person.  If you have decided to focus on the things about your life that you are disappointed in, you may miss out on the joy of the things that have the potential to truly make you happy, like a husband that lovingly touches your hand and says, "Anything for you!"

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