I read a lot of studies about aging and about people who are doing ParentingOurParents (POP). Today I read a study that stated older people have a “positive bias,” described as a default position that resembles: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
I stopped in my tracks reading on that one. Why? When my dear Mom was alive and in her final years of Alzheimer’s, I kept a book I’d bought her by her bedside. Long after she’d ceased reading, we developed a routine, she and I, that I created to quiet her agitation – a disturbing although predictable part of the dementia. When I saw her beginning to have that agitated energy overtake her, I would grab the actual book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” from her bedside and mouth those words to her. Then my Mom would proudly parrot back to me – and to herself – the book’s subtitle: “and it’s all small stuff!” It really worked to calm her horribly disturbing events; I felt proud that my years of learning to be a therapist had helped me find a way to help her through those moments.
This weekend, we are flooded with ideas for Mother’s Day- the one day specially designated to pay attention to and appreciate our Moms! For those without living Mothers, however, this national celebration can seem to be a time of wistful nostalgia, evoking loneliness, and even envy. And for those of who will not be with our children, stepchildren, grandchildren or other family members to celebrate us this Mother’s Day, that can also evoke nostalgia, envy and loneliness.
I write here to those folks in particular who are deprived of their Mothers or younger celebrants and offer a way to undermine those negative feelings and even replace them with uplifting thoughts. I invite those of you who find yourself so deprived to take a good long look at what you believe will make you feel better not only this Sunday and but also ongoingly into the future. A good long look – and then I suggest you see if you can give that to yourself.
Hopefully your time and authentic inquiry will result in your discovery of how you can make your life and your mind a richer and a more joyous place to inhabit. I think you too will end up telling yourself – as I did my Mom – to not sweat the small stuff and how perhaps you will conclude that much of what you worry about is small stuff.
And no matter your life circumstances, you too can aim to develop a “positive bias” since the scientists claim it will allow us to let go of negative experiences more often and more completely, especially with our friends and family.