Lao Tzu, the Father of Taoism, said,
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream."
Not surprisingly, Mr. Tzu was an extremely wise man.
The truth is many people continue to believe that the “grass is always greener” - they are so hurt or angry or frustrated (or just plain bored) that rather than focusing on fixing the relationship they are in, they simply tell themselves that they are sure to be happier in a different situation whether that be with another person or on their own.
Taking care of your marriage, putting time and energy into the relationship you’re already in can lead to a happier marriage. And how you “water” this field is critical.
As Mr. Tzu so aptly points out, nothing positive comes from approaching things with worry and fear. Instead, it is important to look for solutions to difficult issues, to take responsibility for our part in conflicts, to see where we might be contributing to the problem and make an effort to change.
In other words, no one is responsible for how you feel except you. We can choose to think about and pay attention to all the stressful things in our lives or we can choose to pay attention to all the things for which we are truly grateful (which hopefully includes our spouse!) This is often a tough concept for people to understand and accept, so here’s an illustration. Have you ever been out to a really nice restaurant and the service that day was poor, the food took forever to get there and the person at the next table was really loud? Well, you could choose to focus on all that and let it ruin your night OR you could choose to pay attention to your wonderful spouse, appreciate that you can afford to dine at such a nice establishment, joke about the whole thing and be thankful for all the things that are going right in your life. Both perspectives are options. You decide what you pay attention to, and therefore, you decide how you feel. Just remember, you are responsible for your own mood, (it’s not anyone else’s job to “make” you feel happy – that’s your job!). As Mr. Tzu notes, choose to find the positive. Look for it. You may have to look around a bit, but it’s there!
And consider this - staying and working on yourself and through the issues in your current relationship, (rather than heading off to supposedly greener pastures), allows you to learn and, therefore, grow into a better person and a better partner.
The fact is, the grass may look greener . . . but it’s really Astroturf.
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