Perspective, Resilience, and Happiness

I recently saw an article on my twitter feed about ways to cope when “disappointed by a baby’s gender” at an ultrasound.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be “disappointed in your baby’s gender” at an ultrasound, instead of just being relieved and thankful for the miracle that your fetus is actually still alive, but obviously it’s a real concern for some prospective parents with different life experiences than mine.

Discussions of cultural gender bias and gender being a fluid social construct aside (which could take up another entire series of blog posts), this article really made me think about how easy it is for us to take things for granted in our lives, and how important a sense of perspective can be to our happiness.

People who have been through the trenches of infertility and the loss of a pregnancy or a child rarely have the privilege of being disappointed by the sex of their child. People who have lived in refugee camps with no running water rarely have the privilege of being disappointed about the size of the shower in their apartment. Perspective is everything.

I have the privilege of working with amazing newcomer families from around the world, many of whom experienced a great deal of trauma before coming to Canada. The themes of resilience and gratitude are ones that I see every day with the families who are thriving instead of simply surviving. Not sweating the small stuff, the ability to positively reframe challenges, and finding joy in simple pleasures can really help to create a positive outlook and resilience to bounce back from a less-than-ideal situation.

On the days when I start to stir the pity pot over the speed bumps that life throws my way, I need to come back to these important skills that my families have taught me are vital to a positive outlook and a life of happiness. It’s okay to feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, and sad, but we can’t stay stuck in those feelings forever, or we will drown.

Many years ago, I used to think that happiness was a privilege granted to those who had not experienced pain or hardship. As I get older, I now realize that the happiest people I know are not those who have had the easiest lives. They are the ones who fell down or got knocked down repeatedly and then got back up. They are the ones who walked through the fire. They are the ones who are leading others through the fire.