Recently, a number of unexpected expenses came my way, and I’ve been very concerned about managing the financial obligations I already have, along with these scary new bills.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve mentioned these worries to my 14-year-old son, wondering out loud how I was going to pay for all this stuff.
Then yesterday I was on the phone with him, making fun plans for Christmas, and I noticed he sounded stressed. When I asked what was wrong, my son said, “I’m so worried about your money problems. What are you going to do? How will everything get covered?”
I reassured him that it would all be OK. Then we talked a bit about priorities. “Money is important,” I explained, “but it’s only temporal. Worrying about how a bill will get paid doesn’t actually help pay it, and there are so many other, more productive, places to put your attention. You have a family who loves you. Enjoy the time we have together. The holidays are coming; take pleasure in the warmth they bring.”
As I continued my speech about staying in the moment and appreciating the most essential things in life, I realized that my son’s anxiety was really my own fault. Here I was going on and on about not allowing problems to overwhelm you, when I had been the one to make him nervous in the first place by expressing my own fears on multiple occasions.
Somehow, I had become so wrapped up in my worries that I lost the ability to enjoy life, and instead was experiencing each day through an angst-ridden haze. After a minute, my pep talk to my son began to be aimed at myself just as much as him.
Sure, times are tough. But what’s even tougher is to live the relatively small number of days we have on this earth worrying about what will happen next. There’s a difference between solving problems and obsessing over them, and it is in that spirit that I have resolved to give myself a pre-set amount of time this holiday season for constructive, solution-oriented planning. Every other moment I will fully inhabit and enjoy.
Wishing all of you a joyous holiday.