Perspective

I slept in this morning. I didn’t wake up and drag myself out of bed until 8:30. That’s highly unusual for me. I usually wake up before my iPhone alarm goes off at 6. Last Sunday I slept until 8 but that was only because I was up late with my girlfriend and we lost an hour due to the onset of Daylight Savings Time.

Anyway, this morning I was just tired…not so much physically as emotionally. I went to bed a little defeated and a little deflated from a shitty Friday. I made a bad decision to drive 3-and-a-half hours one way, 7 hours round trip, to look at a single trailer that turned out to have 6 bad tires and a bent up ICC bumper. Not only was I not going to be able to buy and re-sell this piece of crap, to make matters worse, I missed out on a good trailer that I could have sold and made a thousand dollars, but because I was on the road chasing this bad one, I failed to make the necessary calls to quote and promote the good. My boss ended up selling it instead. When that happens, I make zero.

Learning of this driving home, I was so pissed off that I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I was burning up miles in my relatively new Mini Cooper S. Although I’ve had it 4 months, this was the first trip I decided to drive it that was over a hundred miles. The car did fine and I could have turned my attention to the enjoyment of tooling along on a secluded country highway in my little sports car. This car is one of those rare purchases that continue to provide value in terms of the experience gained; but I was numb to it because of my bad attitude. All I could think of was fifty-five dollars of wasted premium fuel, the lost thousand, and the money I wouldn’t be making on the trailer mired in Podunk, South Carolina.

Today I can look back and see that I let the perception of what I’d lost in time and money overcome my gratitude for what I still had. That simple matter of perspective ruined my day, my attitude, my diet, and my sleep. I was snippy and bellicose with my boss; and he noticed. I was moribund and disinterested on the phone with my girlfriend, and she noticed. I didn’t spend any quality time with my children. Whether they noticed or cared I don’t know, I was too busy eating half a bag of potato chips and half a tub of sour cream and onion chip dip, and veg’ing on a basketball game I didn’t care about.

Looking back this morning, I realize afresh how stupid and costly wrong thinking is. I compounded my loss of quantifiable time and income by getting angry and depressed and expending emotional capital. By being an ass to my boss, indifferent to my girlfriend, and emotionally unavailable to my kids, I expended relational capital. Binging on chips and dip expended physical capital and wasted hours of jogging I’d put in earlier in the week. Sleeping on all that turmoil burned up a few hours of the most valuable capital, time.

Although it is more difficult to keep account of the running balance of emotional, relational, and physical capital, those are still finite resources that are easy to deplete. For me, yesterday was a day of deficit spending in every resource category I could tap.

I made the mistake, all in my head, of focusing on the negative rather than the positive. I refused to stop thinking about what I wanted that I’d somehow been denied instead of remembering what I had then (and still have) that could not be taken from me because it is immaterial and doesn’t fluctuate with a trailer sale. I’m ordinarily an optimist because I consistently choose to do this one thing.

I’m not optimistic because I pretend things are great when they aren’t. I’m optimistic because I’m grateful for the good things that are.

I preach these truisms to my kids all the time;

“Be grateful!”

“Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have!”

“Count your blessings!”

“Let go of things you cannot change by your own actions!”

This morning, I’m still out a thousand and fifty-five bucks. I still don’t have a trailer to try to sell Monday morning, and my scale was up by a pound, but choosing to practice what I preach, I am conscious that I am also:

Sitting out in the warm, spring sunshine on my back deck;

Loved by a God Who Is Love,

Listening to the happy warble of birds singing,

Enjoying American Beauty playing on my old, faithful iPod,

Fortified with a cup of my favorite coffee in my favorite mug,

Writing this with a MacBook Pro on my lap,

Armed with both an iPad Air and iPhone 5s on the table beside me,

Filled from an empty Chobani Peach Yogurt cup keeled over beside them,

Secure in the knowledge that my kids are still snug in their beds upstairs,

Warmed and fulfilled by a great conversation with my wonderful girlfriend,

Counting these blessings, which are only a sample of all the blessings I could enumerate, I can exhale and proclaim, “Life is Good!”

Nothing has changed from yesterday’s disappointments except my perspective, and thus, everything has changed.