Mike Dariano

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What I can control, picking up clothes

My wife is a lovely woman - since she started reading this blog I try to introduce her this way - but she has some habits that used to get under my skin like dropping her work clothes on the floor, not more than two feet from our hamper. This used to bother me, setting me in a foul mood and letting a storm encircle my soul like a strong fence around a weak pig. No longer.

It takes 6.7 seconds to pick up any clothes from the floor and put them in our hamper along with tidying any shoes and hanging one shirt. I really did time it. That long to do one nice thing for my wife and to make me a happier person. That's nothing, this blog post will take ten times as long to read and fifty times as long to write. There are two aspects underlying this situation; that I sometimes forget how much I love my wife and the simple tasks to avoid feeling crappy.

I love my wife dearly. I love her more than anything in the world but sometimes we fight about dumb things. Clothes or food or money or anything else as fleeting. These little things that have no consequence in our lives we can argue about and then waste time dealing with the aftermath. No more. No more petty arguments or fights, if this is the person I love unconditionally then I should love with no conditions.

The second component is my fault, not controlling my feelings. In the great book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl shares - all while reflecting on his time as a concentration camp prisoner - that though external forces are beyond our control, we can always control our reactions. Gretchen Rubin says much the same in Happier at Home. Even though her husband has things that irk her, she was the one letting these things bother her. Rubin's solution then was to choose to not let the lack of housework bother her and instead do it herself, and appreciate all the really good things her husband does.

This moment - picking up clothes - takes one thousandth of my awake hours. If I could do a thousand nice things everyday think how great that would be, if I could a hundred, or fifty or ten. I can at least do one, one nice thing for the person I love the most and that makes me feel better too.

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