Friday night at karate practice, my oldest, Aleida, was complaining about nausea and a stomach ache but ate a good dinner and seemed fine at bed time. At 1:30am, yelling kiddos woke me and my hubby, and we found Aleida doubled over with stomach cramps. My youngest, Cici, had heard her crying and was calling us on her behalf. I won't go into the details, but that was the beginning of a long night. Aleida definitely had a stomach virus, and even with Imodium and anti-nausea meds on board, she was still up every 30-40 minutes until about 6am when she was finally able to sleep peacefully.
In addition to feeling helpless to ease Aleida's pain and exhausted due to lack of sleep, I was also taking an inventory of all the plans that were being thrown off course and how I would deal with that in the morning. I was also worrying about the transfer of germs as I cuddled my daughter through the night. I won't lie; it sucked. Now, a stomach virus is just a little blip on the "things that suck" radar, but still, when your stomach is cramping and you're bent over the toilet for the 5th time (or watching your child suffer through this), it feels like a major moment of suck. And of course people deal with much worse situations.
I have friends going through cancer treatments and painful divorces and messy custody battles. I have friends with sick parents and crappy jobs and financial problems and bodily injuries. It all sucks.
And let's be honest--the stomach flu sucks.
As I was lying next to my shivering daughter some time between the hours of 2am and 5am, feeling sorry for her and myself, I started thinking about the idea of abundance and particularly what it takes to cultivate it during less savory times in life. Abundance is one of my Big A words, but it's perhaps the hardest one to grasp. Put simply, abundance means that you look at the world from a lens of gratitude and positivity. It means that even when bad things happen, you realize that you have a choice in how you think about the situation and you have the resources to take action toward a more satisfied existence. An abundance mindset means that you don't resent others for their success or good fortune and you understand that for all the circumstances outside of your control, you have many options to live a life of your own design.
Living with abundance DOES NOT mean that you suddenly have to see the stomach flu or cancer or heartbreak as a good thing, as a blessing, or as a gift. First of all, your brain is smarter than that. If you try to tell yourself that getting the stomach flu is a blessing, your brain will call BS on that. No, you don't suddenly have to love all the suckiness in your life. The sugar coating or euphemistic spin on badness has always seemed false and unsustainable anyway. Ignoring a wound does not make it heal. Rather, it will fester and grow.
Awareness and acceptance are the keys to abundance during tough times. Denying, complaining, fighting against or worrying about situations beyond your control compound the problem. These habits focus on your lack...of health, of control, of love, of whatever...and feed a mindset of scarcity, which leads to feelings of helplessness and stuck-ness. On the contrary, accepting the truth of the situation allows an openness to learning from it and a resolve to take action to make it better. Again, acceptance does not mean you have to LIKE what's going on, but it frees up the mental energy you were using to fight against the unwanted situation so that you can channel your thoughts to creative problem solving.
I'll use my own experience with the stomach virus. I did not WANT my daughter to have the stomach flu. But spending my thoughts on wishing she didn't have it or worrying about the rest of the family getting it were futile...wasted energy. Once I accepted it, I realized that it would pass, and I was able to comfort my daughter better. Instead of resisting my reality, I was able to shape it into a more positive experience. Rather than trying to will away the illness, I focused on making my daughter more comfortable. Rather than pining for the end of the long night, I became more present and connected. Rather than hating the stomach flu, I spent my energy loving my daughter. It was still a long and sleepless night, but that shift made a huge difference for me and for Aleida.
When you find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation, take a few minutes to realign your thoughts toward a mindset of abundance, and I know you will feel the difference. Try this process:
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