We’ve probably all heard the optimistic aphorism “a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet!” and while that sounds way too cheerful for me, there is a lot of truth to it. The first time you met your best friend or your spouse/ significant other, they were a stranger to you. Imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t meet them! This is the point of that perky little saying: you never know who that stranger will be in your life until you get to meet them, so keep an open mind.
When it comes to problems, we also need to keep an open mind. What looks like a problem can actually be an opportunity if we keep an open mind. It may not be what you want or what you think it should be, but if you leave yourself open to the possibilities, who knows what can happen?
One of the tv shows I like to watch is Mysteries at the Museum (I’m a history geek!) and if there’s a common theme that runs throughout the show, it’s that a problem may be an opportunity you weren’t looking for. Some of the things that we use (and pretty much take for granted every day) were initially someone’s problem or failure. These are things like super glue, kevlar and post-it notes. Speaking for myself as an office worker, life is so much better with post-it notes! The point is that all of these things were initially seen as failures or problems by their inventors. Kevlar started out to be a lightweight material for tires and although it eventually ended up in tires, how much more has it done for law enforcement and the military? Super glue started out to be shatterproof sites for rifles but ended up fixing something for just about everyone! Post-it note glue was supposed to be another super sticky glue but in the end, its lack-of-stickiness turned out to be its saving grace!
While some failures and problems never amount to more than failures and problems, the point is that we will never know until we try seeing the situation from another angle. If our attitude is simply: “this sucks!,” then yes, it most definitely sucks and that’s the end of that opportunity! When it comes to our eating habits, what looks like it might be a problem can actually be an opportunity to make healthy changes. I know there are a lot of people who complain about not being able to stay on their diet while traveling. It’s a common theme on My 600 lb Life: “there’s no such thing as healthy fast food and there’s not a lot of healthy choices besides fast food!” We all know it’s an excuse to eat the junk food they really want to eat, as anyone who has been to a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s or even a KFC knows there are healthy choices available. Almost every fast food restaurant at least offers a salad. How yummy it is may be debatable, but in my experience Wendy’s and Arby’s offers the best salad options, and KFC offers real grilled chicken instead of breaded and fried. When you stop for gas, you don’t have buy donuts, candy and soda: you can usually get jerky, nuts, fruit and water. There are also a lot of restaurants attached to gas stations and travel stops so you have more options there too! Staying overnight at a hotel has the best options since there are usually restaurants in walking distance and delivery (either via the restaurant or an app) is also a possibility. We can either lock ourselves into Problem Mode (“X is my only choice!”) or you can keep an open mind and look at what else is possible. “Healthier fast food” doesn’t have to a ‘travel only’ option either; the next time your family wants burgers and fries, you can always say “okay” and order yourself the salad or bunless burger!
Even if something is a real genuine problem, keeping an open mind leaves yourself open to the positive. Recently, my cable box died. It’s totally dead, won’t even come on and needs to be disconnected and replaced. This means I can’t do it until the weekend and since it died on a Monday night, yay…. a whole week without the tv…. While I don’t have a lot of programs I regularly watch (generally 3-4 nights a week), I am pretty loyal to those I do, so it’s a major inconvenience,viewing-wise. Getting a replacement is going to be a huge hassle I am not looking forward to and will probably take up a good part of my already crowded weekend! So I can grouse and moan and complain (of which I have already done plenty!) and leave it at that… OR I can look at what opportunities might be hidden in this obstacle.
On the first and most obvious level, it means I have a lot more free time than before! I confess: I went for the tv-substitute and streamed a lot of my Amazon Watchlist to my tablet! These were shows I’d been meaning to catch up on but didn’t have the time, so now that my regular tv is unavailable- Hello Detective Bosch! Seasons Three and Four are now on my To-Do list! It also means that since mindless eating and tv seem to go hand-in-hand, although this is the tv-subsitute, I don’t typically “watch” my tablet in the living room where the tv is. I watch it in the bedroom, where eating options are a bit more problematic. As in, it’s too easy for a furry housemate to stick his or her nose in my dinner plate! So dinner this week has been eaten without being glued to the ‘television’ and there’s less opportunities for snacking, wandering back and forth between the living room and fridge/ pantry. As for the furballs, they love being in the bedroom since we’re all pretty much on the same level: more fetch and more playtime. Overall it means there’s just been less tv , more pet-time and more sleep! Geez! Less eating, less temptation, more play and more sleep! Yikes! What an horrendous ordeal this has been!
Of course, it’s still going to be a headache getting the cable box exchanged and everything set up so I’ll be up and running. The point is that I can look at this as a little adventure, camping out with the tablet or I can simply view it as a problem. I’m also viewing it as an opportunity to clean out the cabinet where the cable box goes! Since we’ve already got to ‘dismantle’ all those cords and wires, why not make some improvements to that mess? While I certainly don’t want to come off as some perky little Pollyanna when it comes to obstacles and problems, how we react to them is entirely up to us. After moaning and grousing about my ‘new problem,’ I looked at my options and came up with something that works for me in the interim. Of course, Set-Up Saturday with the new cable box might be an entirely different obstacle…….