Friday, July 25, 2008

Choose Joy, by Jennifer Lee

Robert Hajjar with Addie Daabous

This morning I spent two hours in traffic. My morning routine varies every day, depending on whether I want to have a quick breakfast, sleep an extra 10 minutes, or maybe even take an extra-long shower. Regardless of my nighttime pledge to leave the house earlier, I always end up leaving 20 minutes later than I had originally planned. Instead of a one-hour commute to work, the inevitable wall of traffic creates a time-consuming, stressful drive.

The instant I see the line of stationary cars snaking along the highway, I begin my second daily routine: I begin complaining to myself. Throughout the day, I seem to find a great number of things to complain about, whether it is a difficult customer at work, or even a cup of coffee that has gone cold. This will usually last until I fall asleep at night.

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of mine, when she suddenly exclaimed, "You're always so cheerful and positive!" I was stunned, as I have lived my whole life with a habitual mental list of grievances. She made me realize that I speak and think positively about everyone around me, but reserve mostly negative thoughts in regard to my own life.

It is human nature to take life for granted, and it is easy to fall into a pattern of negative thinking. I have been given wonderful gifts in my life, which I am grateful for, and which should be reflected in my daily thoughts.

This brought to mind my friend, Rob Hajjar, who has Down syndrome, yet constantly exudes happiness and warmth. He doesn't waste time with negativity, but chooses, instead, to revel in life's gifts. It wouldn't occur to him to complain about any aspect of his life.

For the first time, I made an effort to remain in a constant state of joy, eliminating negative thoughts whenever they sprang to mind. The commute became a chance to spend some time with myself, rather than a source of frustration.

I know that my "inner saboteur" will wait patiently for me to show up so it can whisper self-defeating words in my ear. But a few small changes have already made me experience what Rob must feel every day: a sense of contentment and appreciation for life.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Jenny

Your story is very heartwarming. A good friend of mine has a son with Down syndrome. And, to think that you, a 'mainstream' person has learned something very valuable from your friend with Down syndrome is remarkable. When we care to stop and listen to what life is teaching us, we become much better people.

Sounds like your friend Robert is a special friend. I had previously checked out the website and remembered Robert's face and that he was the Founder. Continue opening your heart to whatever shines upon you.

Warmest regards,
Vancouver, BC

Gordo said...

For many mainstream persons, life in the 'Fast Lane' is not so great as it is cracked up to be.

Might it be that life in the intellectually disabled 'Slow Lane' may have some advantages?

I 100% agree with Jenny and Anne.

If all ... or most ... or at least more ... "mainstream" persons took the time to, respectfully, actually listen to what other fellow Candians, Americans, etc. with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities have to say, we might learn a great deal from 'them'.

I say, "Why not check out life in the Slow Lane... preferably before you burn out in the Fast Lane?"


Maureen Lee said...

Jenny, Thank you for your contribution to Just Show Up. Your insightful musings on a life spent in a state of negativity are greatly appreciated. Our mutual friend (and founder of, Robert Hajjar, continues to teach us that life spent in the 'slow lane' (thank you, Gordo) is filled with wonder.

Anne and Gordo, Thank you for reminding us to 'stop and listen.' We will most certainly 'learn a great deal from 'them', if we are willing to open our heart just a little.

Gordo said...

Jennifer Lee, I am happy that you taught yourself to 'make lemonade' when, inevitably, life handed you the proverbial lemon.

To dismiss our negative thoughts and allow ourselves to think only positive thoughts is a first step to becoming positive.

To act happy is a first step to becoming happy.

Are these practical applications of the enigmatic paradox coined by the late, great Marshall McLuhan that "The medium is the message."?

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