Making the Best of Your Circumstances
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” -Charles Swindoll
A Lesson from Eddie on Attitude
Recently my dog Eddie had to face the most dreadful of circumstances (for a dog, that is) – he fractured his paw and so was in a cast for 10 days and had to wear a – GASP! – cone. Now, I won’t go into details as to how this came about…let’s just say that he is very small and really LOVES to run under my feet – the jury is still out on whose ‘fault’ it is.
Now to understand the direness of the situation, you would have to understand Eddie. See, Eddie is a Terrier (a Fox Terrier, to be exact – he wanted me to be sure to clarify that so you wouldn’t, heaven forbid, think he was a Jack Russell!) and he loves to run. And when I say ‘run’, I mean he loves to ‘Speedy Gonzales’ his way around the yard over, and over, and over. He also likes to jump around on our furniture like a cat (don’t tell him I said that, though!)
And so for Eddie being put in a cast really is the worst thing ever. And let’s not even begin to talk about the cone…
I felt so bad for the little guy – not only was he inhibited from doing all of his favourite things, but he also had no way of knowing what was happening to him. And as far as he knew, this was the rest of his life.
But here’s the thing that took me by surprise: Eddie didn’t feel bad for himself.
When we took him home from the vet we were expecting some pretty major ‘pity parties’, assuming he would be laying it on pretty thick for the next week and a half in hopes of gaining our sympathy and getting extra love – and treats, of course! But he didn’t.
By the end of the first day, Eddie had figured out how to ‘hop’ around with his new cast – and it didn’t phase him. Every once in awhile he would even just stand in the middle of the room, swinging his cast back and forth as if he was having fun with it!
And, even though he couldn’t run – though by day 3 he was trying - he still did his other favourite things: he still followed me around the house as I went about my daily routines, he still hopped up on the lay-z-boy with me when I watched TV at night, and, yes, he still pranced over to the “Big Dogs’” pen and peed on their gate.
He even figured out how to use his cast as a permanent, always accessible, pillow for his head – he was such a little trooper!
For the entire ten days, there was nothing depressing about Eddie.
And that’s when I realized that, sure, he would have been happier had he not had a cast on, but that wasn’t his current circumstance and so he just made the best of what he had. See, circumstance had nothing to do with Eddie’s response to his cast – Attitude did.
So often – and I know I am very guilty of this – we allow our circumstances to dictate our attitudes towards them. But here’s the thing: we cannot control our circumstances – whether they are short OR long-term. But what we can control is the attitude we take towards them.
In recovery we are faced with many inhibiting circumstances – whether it be friends or family who don’t understand, the inability to ‘just live a normal life’, or even entering into a Treatment Center where seemingly our freedom is stripped away from us. And, though we cannot control these circumstances (though I do realize entering into treatment is a choice but often it is something we choose not because we want to be in treatment, but because we want it for a greater purpose: ultimate recovery) we can control our attitudes.
Or maybe it’s something smaller: maybe you have the flu, or you have a sports injury (which I have had many of) and you are getting frustrated because you can’t exercise for a period of time and that is making you go bonkers (as it often does for me!)
Or maybe it is something more serious. And please understand I am not trying to belittle the feelings that come with any of these above mentioned circumstances (or even more serious ones), but I also cannot belittle the importance of taking on a positive attitude despite your circumstances.
Take a tip from Eddie! His cast is now off, but I honestly believe if it really was ‘for life’ he would be just as happy and content as he is today with all four legs back.
So I encourage you to do an inventory of the attitudes you are taking, and ask yourself: Are you letting your circumstances dictate your attitudes? Or our you choosing your attitudes despite your circumstances?
It is, at the end of the day, your choice…
Here’s a picture of Eddie the day his cast came off
he wanted me to remind you that circumstances are often temporary, but the wrong attitude can have a lasting impact, and even if it feels like the worst and that it’s for life, most things aren’t really ‘for life’, just like his cast.
Eddie also wanted me to show you a picture to prove that he is all better now, and is back to running – which he loves!