What Burden Are You Carrying That's Stealing Your Joy?

Sunday, April 1, 2018
Burdenof great weight, that which is carried heavily, that which is borne with difficulty.

What comes to your mind when you think of burden?  When I think of burden, I think about people with troubles, circumstances in life that weigh them down to the point that it's hard for them to function normally.  I also think about carrying things that cause a strain.....big bags of mulch, potting soil, kitty litter.  I think about folks with chronic health conditions, conditions that compromise their daily living, conditions that cause chronic pain or constant thought and care.  I could go on and on and I'm sure you're probably making your own list as you read this.  Whatever burden(s) you've thought of, we can probably agree that whatever they might be, burdens are difficult.  They are challenging, exhausting and even draining.  Most of the time, burdens are out of our control and often involve things we can't fix or eliminate.  Most times we just have to learn to function in spite of them. Some people make that look easier than others, but when we think about such people, we know that despite their positive attitude and determination, at the end of the day, their struggle is just as difficult and just as real.

I have a very good friend, a friend who has been around longer than I, a friend who has absorbed a lot of wisdom on her journey. Her life has not been without its burdens, some of her burdens heavier and more difficult to manage than others, some so formidable they've probably seemed impossible to overcome. Even so, my friend is no quitter. Not only has she forged on, battle after battle, she has made it her mission to help others in their battles as well. You might imagine that between her own life experiences and that of others she's guided, she has amassed a wealth of wisdom and good sense along the way. Lucky for me, I get to be the benefactor of this wisdom from time to time and when I am, I can assure you...the light bulb often shines bright with my newfound nugget of information. That was the case earlier this during what I like to call our "session", those times when we pretend to be friends casually sharing life's annoyances but the reality is that she's the counselor and I'm the patient, only without a co-pay. One might imagine that surviving the hard knocks of life might make one bitter or angry, and that's certainly so with many, but not with her. Nope, this gal has a heart of gold, the size of Texas, patient and caring, understanding and loving. I've learned so much from her over the years, I can't imagine my life without her in it. Anyway, back to the story, during our gab session this week, when discussing things that were less than perfect in our worlds, things that didn't quite meet our expectations, people who didn't live up to those expectations, etc... she made a most profound statement. "It's such a burden," she said.
That's when I had my 'ah-ha' moment!  It wasn't a moment really, it was several moments, in fact I haven't stopped thinking about it.  My friend didn't elaborate, she said nothing more!  But I automatically knew what she meant.  If you haven't already figured it out, let me explain.  How many of you, on a regular basis, feel frustrated with people?  Maybe it's your spouse, or your kids, your co-workers, the driver next to you or behind you, the person in the grocery line, maybe the cashier in the grocery line?   Some days we walk around all day being frustrated with people who don't seem to measure up or don't function as well, as fast, as perfectly, as whatever as we feel they should. Some of us are so caught up in our own ways, our own habits that we feel we should micro manage the world, teaching folks how to live and perform 'like we do'.  Right?  Our kids don't follow our recommendations, maybe don't do things the way we advise, our spouse forgets where things go, that co-worker who is always late.... the list can go on and on and we spend our time, our energy frustrated and agitated, day in and day out.  You may not even realize you're reacting, it probably comes so naturally that without even voicing your frustration, your body is already responding...your stomach is in knots, your pulse is racing, your jaw is clenching.....all over something which you cannot control.  Yet, that doesn't stop us from letting it 'burden' us.  With me yet?   We allow people's flaws, habits, characteristics and norms, weigh us down to the point of us not being able to see the good in them.  All we can see is their inadequacies, their inability to be 'us'.  When you consider that you've (like me) probably perfected the art of frustration with at least some people or circumstances in your life, you can imagine how living like this does indeed create a massive burden on us.  In some cases, we walk into a room already carrying the burden of whatever frustrations and disappointments we expect to have there.  We place our impending burden on the people around us to try to live up to our unrealistic and perhaps impossible expectations, when in our hearts we probably have already figured out they cannot.
So who suffers?  We micro managers, critics, expectant people suffer as we carry this burdensome load through life.  Our burden hinders our ability to see the good in people.  It hinders our mind to be free to enjoy the blessings in life.  The burden weighs us down and holds us back from the life we are meant to enjoy.  Unlike some of the earlier burdens I mentioned, these burdens are burdens of choice.  They are not chronic illnesses, they are not devastating life conditions, they are not permanent.  So why do we let them have the same effect on us?  My friend was so insightful in her comment.  She's right....these things, the things that weigh us down are OUR burdens.  Most of the things that frustrate us, steal our peace of mind, distract us from inner peace are not burdening the people we're frustrated with.  They're just fine with how they are, yet we carry the burden, time and time again.

On this Easter Sunday, a day of rejoicing, a day of renewal and new life, this is what I propose.   This week unload your burdens.  Stop expecting people to disappoint you.  Stop letting them frustrate you.  Start accepting them, flaws and all.  Start embracing them for who they are.  I know this won't be easy.   I know that as soon as you wake up, someone or something will challenge you, but catch yourself from burdening yourself with anything you can't control, anything you can't fix (you've already tried), anything that isn't exactly how you'd do it.  Let it go!  Put down your load and carry compassion instead of criticism. Carry patience instead of pity.  Carry kindness instead of frustration.  See if your burdens don't seem lighter and your mood a little brighter!

Thanks for reading today! I'm always grateful for your time and your interest in sharing my Life As I See It, all the while recognizing that each of us views the world through different lenses and come from different backgrounds and experiences that have shaped who we are and how we think. That's what makes life interesting. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

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