...What You Wish For
The year’s end (or beginning!) evokes reflection and introspection for people— there’s a lot of soul searching and self-evaluation spinning around in their heads right about now. What will the new year bring? What can they do differently to improve things? Before you invest too much time in speculation, take a minute and ask yourself—are things really so bad?
One of the best parts of my job is meeting new people. While I am usually in the instructor role, I, too, learn from others. One of my patients recently shared a Yiddish folk tale that hit home for me, not only for the time of the year, but for everything that is going on right now in the world with Covid. The book, “It Could Always Be Worse” by Margot Zemach won publishing accolades including the 1978 Caldecott Honor Book.
The book recounts the story of a poor farmer who is so overwhelmed with the noise and chaos of living in a one-room hut with his mother, his wife, and six children, that he seeks the advice of his Rabbi on how to deal with it all.
To his dismay, the Rabbi instructs him to fill his compact hut with his barnyard livestock. After subsequent visits to the Rabbi, his home is soon bursting at the seams with his mother, wife, six children, a few chickens, a rooster, a goose, a goat, and a cow.
In his mind, the old man's life goes from bad to worse. He returns to the Rabbi in a frenzy and proclaims, “My life is a nightmare!” The Rabbi instructs him to go home and let the animals out into the yard. Alas, with no more honking, crowing, clucking, mooing, and bleating, the old man sleeps soundly that night.
If we look back to the beginning of the story, the man’s life conditions are the same as recounted at the end of the story. But something changed the situation to make it better for him, right? The answer was always within him, but he had to experience the worst before he could recognize what was good. What changed was his perspective. We each have the power to shape how we experience things. Even if we can’t change the external conditions of an unpleasant situation, we can manage it by changing our perspective about it.
So, before you go crazy and come up with a long list of the things you want to change in 2022, look deep inside at all the really good stuff you have going in your life, and start your year off there.