10. Your happiness. Repeat after me: I deserve to be happy (unless I’m a serial killer who hurts puppies, in which case I need to reassess my approach to life). It’s true! Yes, there will always be hungry people to help, orphaned animals to rescue and sad family members who could use your cheering up, but it’s okay for you to be happy. Actually, it’s more than okay. You’re kicking butt. You should be happy.
11. Your sadness. The most pivotal moment in my growth as a human being thus far in my life–that’s dramatic, but it’s true–was in my early twenties when I read Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times after I broke up with my college boyfriend. I know, I know–you’re probably imagining me as a 20-something Bridget Jonesesque character, eating soy ice cream and reading self help books. But it’s the truth, so I’m saying it. There.
This quotation is one of the many that stuck with me: “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
So just be sad if you’re sad, okay?
12. Your anger. My husband leaves empty glasses on bookshelves even though I make it a point to always return dishes of all sorts to their rightful place in the kitchen. It makes me mad. It also makes me laugh because I’ve come to accept that this is just going to be what happens around the Miller household for the next forever, but I’m okay with the fact that something this silly makes me mad.
My dad has a purebred pit bull. I’ve worked in animal shelters since high school and dedicated many of my efforts to promoting adoption of this lovable breed that fills our nation’s animal shelters, but my dad has a purebred. This royally pisses me off to the point of tears. It’s okay. I can be mad because this is something I’m passionate about and it doesn’t mean that I don’t love my dad or that I’m not being a good daughter.
13. Your coworkers. In my old job, I had a few coworkers who were so anxious about change that it made me anxious. I’d spend time cajoling them to try to change their minds and their approach, knowing that they’d be much happier if they could just accept that change is the name of the game in a startup but my efforts were futile. That’s okay! My coworkers can be who they are and it doesn’t need to affect how I approach my work or how I feel about my job.
14. Your friends. I have a friend who used to like to sunbathe in my backyard on Saturday mornings and come over for veggie chili every Sunday. Now she’d rather go out to a dive bar every night than hang out and catch up at my house. I’ve wasted so much time discussing this with my other friends who have also noticed this change. Just as you need to accept your family members but you don’t have to necessarily like every single thing they do, your friends are going to do what they’re going to do. Enjoy the time you do spend with them rather than arguing over the time that you don’t.
15. Your pets. I admit it: I have a bad dog. He barks–a lot–and doesn’t get along with kids, other animals, other dogs (except for his dog brother).
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read up on dog training or seek out a trainer if your budget so allows. Just that you should stop thinking that your pet is going to stop barking of his/her own accord. Have a dog that eats underwear? He’s not going to stop on his own. You need to start working around that perverted inclination.