Last night I wriggled and jiggled, tossed and turned as I struggled to fall asleep and remain that way. Eventually I fell into a deep sleep about 2 hours before I was due to wake. To be honest, there was nothing unusual about last night as I’m not a great sleeper – in fact, this was the third sleepless night on the trot.
When my alarm jerked me into consciousness, my body felt stiff and exhausted, as if I’d completed an Ironman. I dragged myself out of bed, showered and made my way into the kitchen where I made a cup of tea. My head felt heavy and I had absolutely no interest in going to work. I drew back the curtain and looked out at a grey depressing day. I felt angry and frustrated with myself for not sleeping but as I took my first sip of tea, I knew I had a decision to make.
I can’t undo the sleepless night or change the weather or how tired I feel, but I can choose what thoughts I’m going to fill my mind with.
I took another sip of tea and looked around my living room. My unit was warm, dry and comfortable, and given the shortage of housing in Whakatane, I knew I’d been lucky to have found something so suitable. Through the window I could see my lemon tree laden with lemons waiting to be picked. I watched two shiny young blackbirds chase each from tree to tree like teenage boys establishing their territory and for the first time this morning I smiled.
I thought about the day ahead at work and was grateful I had a job that paid the bills. When I’d returned to New Zealand at the end of last year I had looked for a job that would leave me with energy and time to write my second book. I’d found exactly that job in a small town in a beautiful part of New Zealand. My work colleagues were great and the project I’m managing fits well with my professional skills. I felt full of gratitude.
I gulped down the last of my tea but my head still ached, so I tossed back a couple of paracetamol pills. After pulling on my coat, I let myself out the door. Work was a 15 minute walk away and I knew the stiffness in my body would be gone by the time I arrived at work. The fresh wind felt great on my face as I headed up the driveway.
As I walk to work, I know I’m sleep deprived and I expect there to be times today when I’ll struggle to function at my best, but that’s OK. I keep choosing to focus on all I have to be thankful for and my tiredness begins to lose its stranglehold on me.
Sixty years ago a neurologist and psychiatrist was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp. He was separated from his wife and parents and never saw them again. He was forced to work as a slave laborer and watched his friends die slow, miserable deaths. His name was Victor Frankl and this is what he had to say:
“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
My tiredness does not for a moment compare with the experiences that Victor Frankl went through, but today I have to choose what I’m going to focus on and whether I’m going to be grateful for the blessings in my life.
No matter how you feel, what struggles or challenges you are facing or what has happened in the past, every day you choose your attitude and what you fill your mind with.
What attitude do you choose today?
Image by Alon