I just returned from the best vacation ever. The reason it was so fabulous is because I’ve learned to mind my own business. Five years ago, I would not have been able to enjoy it as much because I was addicted to worry:
“I hope no one misses their flight.”
“I hope no one gets sick before the trip”
“I know I’m forgetting something.”
“What if our luggage gets lost?”
“What if people don’t like the house I chose for us to rent?”
“There is no A/C, everyone is going to be hot and be mad at me.”
“I should help out with my little nephews more.”
“I didn’t do enough of the cooking/kitchen clean up. Is everyone mad at me?”
“I can’t be happy if the kids aren’t happy.”
“What if someone drowns? Get’s stung by a jelly fish? Attacked by a shark?”
“I should have planned it during better weather, I feel bad that it’s so windy/rainy/cold/hot/humid”
“Do they like the food I cooked?”
“Are my parents disgusted by my children’s lack of manners? Are my kids being annoying?
“Am I paying my fair share?”
“Are people bored? Should I make more plans? What if they don’t like the plans I made? Are they just going along to be nice but secretly they are annoyed with me?
Worry and guilt are all-consuming distractions. They feel important and productive, responsible and thoughtful, but they are not. Worry and guilt are decoys. They steal our attention so that we don’t notice how amazing and beautiful and fortunate we are. On this vacation, my thoughts went something like this:
“Wow, this is the most gorgeous place on Earth.”
“How did I get so lucky.”
“The kids are having so much fun.”
“It’s fascinating how happy I can be even when others aren’t.”
“I love it here.”
Even when “bad” things happened, I didn’t take on responsibility for things that weren’t mine. My Mom fainted on a hike after I pushed her to keep going, even though she wanted to go back down. The old me would have felt horribly guilty the rest of the week, the new me says, “Oops, sorry Mom, guess I should have listened to you, next time, I’ll know better.”
We scraped the rental car, we got lost driving at night, kids got hurt and sunburned, we wasted money, we left a bag on the airplane, THINGS HAPPENED.
But life becomes wonderful when you stay in your own business.
The weather, sharks, jellyfish, drownings, faintings, plane crashes, lost luggage, car accidents, I file all these under “God’s business”
Are my family members hot, cold, annoyed, pleased, happy, sad, frustrated, hungry, bored? I file these under “Their business.”
“My business” is how I feel, what I think, and the actions I take. When I feel worry and guilt rising up, I ask myself, “What here is my business?” and “What action can I take?” I apologize, contribute more, turn on a ceiling fan, put on more sunscreen and then let everything else go. If there is no clear action to take, the worry is unproductive, wasteful, and I blow it off.
I use worry as a springboard to gratitude. I allow in the goodness. I accept the awesome and appreciate the beauty. I feel the joy.
And it’s amazing how good, good can be.