This past summer, Robert and I were walking downtown in a fairly busy area, and found ourselves face-to-face with an attractive young woman. We did that little dance to one side and then the other, trying to move out of the way, yet moving in unison, so that we were still unable to pass. Almost every other time this happens, I find myself laughing with the other person, and then one of us will stop trying to get out of the way, and wave the other by, with good feeling on both sides.
This young woman became angry, we couldn't believe it. We've talked about it since, laughing that if that is a big annoying incident for her, she must be doing very well in her life. I wonder how she'd manage if she were to lose a loved one, or get diagnosed with cancer?
It took me years in Al-Anon to realise that my problems had precisely the room in my head and in my life that I gave them. I was shocked by that suggestion the first few dozen times I heard it, and then irritated and then angry - were these people trying to say that my problems were minor?
I thought them enormous, insurmountable, terrible and depressing. That was my take on them, that was my description of them, that was the amount of room I gave them in my life.
When I began in my fumbling way to try to practise gratitude, I slowly but surely discovered that I had many things in my life for which I could feel grateful. And doing that regularly, searching out the people, times and facts of my life for which I could feel nothing but gratitude, changed my attitude completely.
"How Important Is It?" became my favourite slogan, and I used it on everything over which I became upset or even slightly annoyed. My first sponsor would ask me, "Will you remember this in a week? A month? A year? Will you be lying on your deathbed thinking about it, and wishing you had handled it differently?"
I found her questions blasted my mind open to a way of living I'd never imagined. Why, I could let go of this stuff as soon as I decided to! It's my choice to decide that something may require thought or effort, but it only becomes a "problem," and only takes up room inside my head, if I choose to allow that to take place.
Let me say that another way - I may get stray thoughts flitting through my head, but I can sit quietly and watch them float by; I don't have to reach up, get a stranglehold upon them, and then spend the next two days obsessing over them.
I can watch them come and go, then turn my mind to thinking of that which gives me serenity, peace and joy. As with so much of this wonderful program, it's my choice. I do not have to give the committee of assholes any room at all inside my head. I've got the key to the lock on that door.