Old People Noises

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This morning I found myself making what I fondly refer to as “old people noises.” These are grunts and groans that carry within them more than a hint of complaint. Although young and old alike make these noises, I call them old people noises because they seem to grow louder as we age. I remember my elderly mother-in-law’s audible sighs that always cued me to jump worriedly to attention and gasp, “What’s wrong!?!”

As I was reflecting on my noises I realized that left unchecked, they would attract some real problems.

The Law of Attraction says, “You attract more of what you focus on.” Groaning this morning, I was focusing on obstacles. Unconsciously, I was worrying about the busy day ahead and anticipating problems. The farther I went down this path, the sooner I would arrive at the destination I was focusing on – a day full of stress.

We all do this. We’ve learned to be very dramatic and self-important about the “loads” we carry. I’ll never forget when my oldest daughter – then 18 – came home from her first day at a full-time job. She sighed heavily, and, ever ready to prove Pavlov correct, I responded, “Honey! What’s wrong!?!” And as only a teenager can, my daughter looked at me as if I were dense: “I’m exhausted! I worked 8 HOURS TODAY!” I burst out laughing. That’s rude, I know, but I couldn’t help it – 8 hours at a desk seemed a cakewalk compared to my burdens (dramatic sigh here).

We become what we focus on. If we continually tell people how tired we are, we grow more and more exhausted. When we dwell on our stress, we become candidates for Valium. Before you know it, you’re cruising the streets for a scalper to sell you a ticket for a front row seat on the Dr. Phil show.

We are so committed to “telling the truth” and being “realistic,” we shoot ourselves in the foot. We’re always telling people how it is instead of focusing on how we want it to be.

Years ago, I heard a response to the question, “How are you?” that I liked so much, I’ve adopted it. When asked, I say, “If I were any better, I would think it was fixed!” In other words, I’m so lucky, I feel like I’m cheating.

Why couldn’t we all respond that way? Sure, we’ve got problems. Welcome to life. Wouldn’t it be smarter to thoroughly enjoy the problem-free zones in our lives so when real troubles hit, we have the strength to meet them?

Recently a friend of mine whose mother had died went to a grief recovery group to see if it might help him through his pain. With a wry grin on his face, he told me later, “Silver, you’re gonna love this! There was a poster at this place advertising a ‘pre-grief’ recovery group for women married to much older men. It’s to prepare them to be widows.” My jaw dropped. “Let me get this straight,” I said, “ THEY ARE GRIEVING IN ADVANCE?!?”

I couldn’t help imagining a scenario in which one of the women gets hit by a bus, dies and is pounding furiously on the pearly gates:. “HE was supposed to die first!! I spent 6 months in that stupid recovery group for THIS!?! I want to talk to God RIGHT NOW!”

Alas, we all sometimes indulge in pre-grieving. I did this morning. My old people noises were a signal that I was planning for a stressful day. I call this “pre-complaining.” We’re so sure that things are going to be awful, we start complaining about them before they’ve even happened. It’s as if we want to get a head start on suffering.

We are a silly bunch, aren’t we? Instead of pre-complaining, let’s start pre-celebrating. Let’s make young people noises of childlike delight at the wonder that lies ahead of us. That sounds much more fun to me!

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