One of the greatest lessons in my life came when I was younger than ten; little did I know it at the time. I was sitting with my grandmother, Julia, most likely at McDonald’s, and I told her I was bored. What was her response? “You’re only bored if you chose to be.”
While this was in the days before smartphones, tablets, and computers, the implication she was making had nothing to do with the means of entertainment around me, but more to do with the state of mind that I chose.
She explained to me, you can sit there and be bored, or you can decide to find something to do. She reminded me that you could draw a picture, look at the clouds, think fun thoughts, play a game in your head. There are things to occupy your mind all around you if you choose them.
It was much later when the extent of her philosophy of life sank in. But the point cascades over so many areas in our daily lives: our mood, our general outlook, the journey ahead, to name a few.
So when I was sitting with my son at breakfast this morning, and the grump on his face was overwhelming the blessings around us, I had to share. He was grumpy that his show was buffering. He was grumpy that half his sausage had gotten cold. He was grumpy that his sister had screwed the lid onto the vitamins crooked.
I had to remind him that if we spend our time complaining about the things we don’t like, we miss the things we do. Instead of worrying about cooling sausage, we can be glad for the warm half we had and reheat the other. Instead of being upset about a buffering show, we can be happy we live in a time when millions of shows can be sent right into our home. Instead of being upset at our sister, we can be happy that we have a loving family around us, and we can fix the vitamins.
The lesson I learned and hoped to convey was that the world around us exists in the way we see it. Our world is all perception, from sight to nerves, to brain, to thought, we filter and mold it. That mold can be chosen. And if the mold is one of negativity, that is what we will see. If it is of positivity, that will be our reward.
Of course, life throws curveballs, and every rule has exceptions. But on the whole, this lesson has proved a powerful one in my life. And I hope my kids listen, this time.