I love mowing my lawn.
For those of you who think I might have a screw loose somewhere (read: most of you) and that I’m simply a masochist who enjoys manually pushing a 50 lb. mechanical object around my surprisingly sizable front and back yards on swelteringly-hot summer days, let me clarify things a bit for you. All that stuff I just mentioned in the previous sentence? Those aspects, I don’t particularly care for so much. What I do like about my personal lawn-mowing experience can be fairly succinctly summed up in one short sentence:
Mowing my lawn is one of the few things in my life that I can control.
I know where my yard starts; I know where my yard ends. I can set the height adjustment on my mower’s wheels so that the length of the cut grass is exactly what I want it to be. I can mow my grass in rows, and I know that when I double-back and mow the next row, the area I’ve already mowed will stay mowed. I can see how much of my lawn that I have left to mow, and when I get to the end and my entire yard has been mowed, I know that I am done with this particular chore for the day.
It’s a small victory, you see, but I feel that it’s a very important one. There is so much in our lives – and I’m confident, most of us have felt this way at least once in the last year alone – that we simply can’t control. From the relatively mundane of flights being delayed to the potentially life-altering impacts of political and legal change, so much that happens in the external world trickles down to happen to us in turn. Even the things that we try hard to regulate (our health, our finances, our relationships) are not guaranteed to be as firmly in our grasp as we’d like them to be; at any moment, these things can be unexpectedly influenced by outside factors and thrown into either minor or major disarray.
It bears repeating: things happen to us. That’s one of the hardest things to come to terms with, especially for people who like at least a modicum of control over their lives. Now, I’m not here to inundate anyone with the sob stories of the things that have been happening to me recently. There are people out there who are dealing with major illnesses (either of their own or of a loved one), death or other extreme loss, and any number of life-changing events that can cause extreme financial, emotional, and mental hardship. I’m not alone in being a person who is struggling with something, and I know that many people out there have been struggling longer and harder than me.
So. What can we do? What options are left to us when it seems that (however valid the perception truly is) our world is coming crashing down around us and nothing will ever make it better ever again? How do we make ourselves able to, to put it in Python-esque terms, look on the bright side of life?
We’re often told – by motivational speakers, self-help books, empowering music, and even feline-dangling positive-thinking posters – hang in there; don’t sweat the small stuff; let it go; don’t stop believin’. These messages are all well and good, but to me, they keep you focused on the negative stuff, even if you are supposed to be mentally discarding it. So I’m suggesting a different, simpler approach. Instead of trying so hard to let go of the bad stuff, focus instead on getting a firm mental grasp on the awesome stuff in your life.
In other words: grab your Good.
Yes, I could spend my time staring at the copious amounts of bills to be paid. I could take the better part of my evening and gripe to whomever might listen about how I can’t afford the nicest things. I could post a piteous status update on the Facespace lamenting all the things that just don’t seem to go my way and how I’m sure I’m the only one on the planet that things like this happen to. Instead, I choose to play a game or watch a movie with my lovely wife, chatting the whole time and reveling in the fact that I’ve got someone in my life who lets me be me and loves me for who I am. I choose to spend my time playing with my adorable 4-year-old daughter, who physically does not know how to worry about such things and is always content and happy doing whatever, whenever; the imagination and laughter exhibited during our playtime is alone worth the price of admission.
Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t grab your Good. My wife’s at work and I’m stressed out? My daughter is only with me on certain days because of a custody agreement? I’ll play with the dogs, whose unconditional love knows no bounds. I’ll call or text a friend or family member, and we can trade jokes and silly stories. I’ll look at pictures or watch videos of past good times and remember why my life isn’t even a fraction as terrible as I sometimes make it out to be in my head.
We can all do this. We all have Good in our lives that we can make a conscious effort to grab onto. If a little, green, wrinkly-skinned dude who lives in a swamp and suffers from chronic verbal dyslexia can figure out that focusing on the light side is better than focusing on the dark side, then we can too. Heck, start here if you like: post a comment below or back on my Facebook status with the #GrabYourGood tag and tell me what’s good in your life that you’re thankful for – something as simple as writing it down and reading back to yourself will go a long way towards making you feel better. I guarantee it.
The next time you mow your lawn, see it less as a chore and more of you controlling your own life. And when you’re all done, take a gander at that fine-lookin’ lawn and bask in the pride of it.
Grab your Good. You’ve earned it.