The First Thing Happy Successful People Quit
by Mary LoVerde
This is my 1993 family Christmas card. No joke. My husband hated to have his photo taken. So, in what I thought was just about the cleverest photographic idea ever, I went to a studio and had this taken. I mean, I actually spent my hard earned money on it. And I thought the photo was beyond fabulous. I sent it to everyone I could think of. I could sense the recipients’ jealousy when they looked at their bland Christmas cards and compared them to my artistic genius. I’ve held this belief for over 20 years.
Then last year one of my kids discovered it in a box of old photos. All three of my children and their spouses were on the floor laughing. Tears rolling down their faces. The laughter would die down for a few seconds; they’d look at it again and laugh some more.
My daughters posted it on Facebook and the virtual laughter continued two decades later. I could not bear to look to see if the photo went viral. My son begged me to enter it into the Awkward Family Photo Contest. “Come on, Mom. We’d WIN!”
At first I was insulted. Hurt. There was even a little part of me that still thought they were wrong. Then I stopped, took a closer look and laughed too. Good God, what was I thinking!
G.K Chesterton said, ““Life is much too important to be taken seriously.”
He’s right. The first thing we must quit is taking ourselves – and the circumstances of our daily lives- so seriously and with such out-of-proportion importance. This habit will be in the way of every intention we set.
We will know if we are too somber by listening to the words we use when people ask how we are:
I’m hanging in there.
I’m torn in a million directions.
I’m coming apart at the seams.
I’m pulled in a dozen ways.
I’m beyond exhausted.
Hung. Torn. Pulled apart. What is beyond exhausted? Sounds dreadfully dire.
Our solutions are pretty grim, too:
“I’ve got to get on top of things. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this.” We are very busy swarming around.
“I need to get it nailed down.” One of my friends quipped in reply, “I nailed it once. I just can’t remember what I nailed it to.”
And my favorite: “I’ve got a death grip on it, and it is still beyond my control! “
Death grip is a telling phrase.
Lighten up for Pete’s sake. (Ever wonder who Pete is?) Catch yourself in midsentence as you overstate the seriousness of yourself and your situation.
And, if you have trouble reframing your circumstances, just keep my Christmas card handy to remind yourself that life really is too important to be taken so seriously.
I’m now considering whether to enter this photo into a caption contest. I bet we could win that one, too. Feel free to offer a caption. I will send a prize for the one that makes my kids laugh the most.