Last night Van and I went on our regular Friday night date: pizza and shopping. I was feeling on edge and annoyed at everything. I didn't pay enough attention to my thoughts to be able to say why, other than I'm sure that much of it had to do with grieving the loss of my father.
I didn't really want to talk at dinner, and I was so restless, I could barely keep myself sitting there the whole time. In fact, by the time the check came, I asked Van to pay while I took the car and drove a couple of blocks away to pick up my curbside Ulta order. After a few other errands -- which Van completed while I sat in the car because I didn't feel like going in -- we ended up at Costco to buy new down pillows.
As we were walking through the store I was complaining and kvetching at everything, and I realized how tiresome it must have been for poor Van to be with me. I apologized and said, "Im sorry I'm acting this way, I'm just in a mood."
And Van replied in the classic Van way: "It's ok, I love you when you're in a mood."
"I know," I said. "You love me all the time, but I must be hard to be with right now."
"No, really," he said. "I don't want you to feel bad, but I love being with you when you're like this. This is when you're at your most hilarious."
I could tell he really meant it. And as I thought about all the things I'd been complaining about, it's true that it was actually pretty funny. As I continued to complain, I too began to see the humor in all of it, and my mood just ... lifted.
The way we choose to think about things can truly be magic. It would have been easy and natural for Van to mirror me. Mirroring is human nature. But Van chose to look at things differently. He decided to find the humor in what was happening.
Viewing me in the best light possible comes naturally to Van simply because over our 24 years of marriage, he has decided to do it consistently. Because he's practiced for so long, he has built an automatic neural pathway that defaults to thoughts of love.
As always, I need to mention that this is not some weird toxic positivity. There was no abuse happening here. I wasn't attacking him or trying to hurt him. I was simply complaining about little things like the people parked in the curbside spots while shopping inside the store.
Think about how much better you would feel if you defaulted to thoughts of love rather than blame or irritation or annoyance. You get there by noticing those thoughts when they come up and simply asking yourself how else you could see the situation. That's it. It's simple, but not easy. It takes practice and work. But it's so worth it.