I’d read the story years before and knew I should step away, but I didn’t. So there I stood in Target’s electronics section, producing tears I refused to release. All because a children’s book was tugging at my heart.
Now, before you get sentimental, this was definitely not an “aww” moment. In fact, I went home and transformed some of those unshed tears into an angry speech that left my hubby wide-eyed.
What was so upsetting?
A story about kids growing up, about life coming full circle. And told in just the right way to induce anyone, especially parents, into the ugliest cry of their lives:
- Sad about childhood’s daily drip of time through the hourglass.
- Regretful about moments they’ve squandered or left unappreciated.
- Worried that it’s too late to start living more fully and joyfully with their kids.
In other words, a big wake up call. Not a bad thing in theory, but consider this:
- I live what I preach.
- “Be Present. Be Grateful.” really is my daily mantra.
- I’m capturing moments, creating little crystal balls of memories, throughout the day.
And because of this, I’m living more fully, joyfully, and peacefully than ever, especially with my kids. But I don’t live every moment this way.
So when I read books like the one at Target—even though I’m proud of how I’m handling my kids’ childhoods—what they attract to my mind’s surface are those failed moments.
And that’s a bad thing.
In fact, it’s exactly opposite of the We Bold Souls message.
Because as bold souls, we’re bringing about peace in each moment by being fully present and grateful. We’re reflecting on the past with satisfaction. And because of this, we’re softening longing for the past.
So how do we shift toward this positive way of living and avoid being tricked into tears? First, we remember the following truths:
1) Flashing forward fails to include all the rich moments between now and then.
Imagine your life or your kids ten years in the future, and what happens? Your heart may hurt at this pretend fast-forward. But guess what? This time hasn’t passed yet! You can commit to living fully between now and then, appreciating each phase’s own form of joy. So when ten years from now arrives, it’ll feel like life’s natural, beautiful progression.
2) Flashing back condenses time artificially.
Now remember your kids as toddlers or your life ten years ago. You may feel another heart pang realizing so much time has passed. But zoom in to individual moments and you’ll gain some perspective. Because when you live with presence and gratitude, life is full even in retrospect.
3) Celebrating milestones is life affirming.
Whatever the occasion, it’s meant to document the beauty of life, not the loss of time. Not everyone—adult or child—is blessed to reach the same longevity markers. Remember that.
4) True tears do exist.
Now there are some times when there’s so much love along the path to a milestone that it overflows from your heart in the form of tears. But the source and the intention come from a different, more authentic place. For more on this, check out this previous post “Three Steps for Riding the Wave of Transition.”
Now that we have our truths, we simply start noticing our moments through our senses and finding a point of gratitude in that sensory information. Repeating this process builds a library of moments.
And don’t worry if you feel you’re starting too late; there’s no magical cut off and no competition. Whenever you begin is your perfect start time.
So remember the four truths above and don’t let artificial flash forwards or look backs trick you into tears; instead, let emotion come from a place of genuine gratitude for your moments. Let it flow from peace with how you’re living overall, not from regret or longing connected to times you weren’t your best.
And perhaps avoid the children’s book section at Target . . .
Ever fallen for one of these tricks? Share your story below!