Last weekend, I adopted a cocker spaniel for my parents as an early Christmas present. They are the quintessential Mom and Dad having extreme difficulty adjusting to their empty nest. Their eldest lives 3,000 miles away and the other two only make it home once a week (a month or longer, in my case). Plus, their cat died six months ago so I thought it was time for a new pet. For years my Mom expressed a desire to get a fluffy, white dog so I was very surprised at how much resistance I encountered from them in actually getting the dog.
Six months ago, everyone was so excited about a new pet. A month later, it was postponed because Mom wanted to pick out the dog herself but didn’t have time to go. Two months after that, it was postponed until after my Mom’s retirement next year. And a week ago, my Dad said he didn’t want a dog anymore because he’s actually scared of dogs. Seriously? That’s when I knew it was all a bunch of excuses. So taking advice from a friend, I went ahead, adopted the dog, drove it to my parents’ house and said, “Here, take care of her!”
I read something by John Gray that said people often resist doing things that they know are good for them, like quitting a job, starting or ending a relationship, quitting smoking, starting an exercise program or even just going to the movies – things that you might actually enjoy in the end. They come up with a million different reasons NOT to do it, like “It’ll be hard to find a higher salary,” “We’ve been together for so long,” or, “It’ll be too crowded.” Fear and laziness are the biggest culprits, and breaking out of your comfort zone, well… it’s just not comfortable! And while there is usually some degree of truth in every excuse, ultimately, all you’re doing is getting in your own way of being a happier person. Happiness is a choice you have to make.
I strongly encourage you to think about the stuff you’ve been resisting for a long time. How long has it been? What are your reasons for not doing it? How valid is each reason? Could doing it possibly have a positive affect on your life? Be honest. Then examine your possible first steps: baby steps and dramatic plunges. Sometimes being forcefully thrown from your comfort zone shows your true strength and results in the greatest success. Just have faith that you’ll figure it all out.
That’s what I did to my parents by handing them a dog and so far, it’s proven to be one of the best things I’ve done in a while. Now their energy is focused on someone other than themselves or their ungrateful children who left them alone together! They take turns walking and feeding Princess (she came with the name), Mom is going crazy buying doggy clothes, and Dad has gone home every day at lunch to check on her. In their faces and voices, I can tell they’re much happier than they were a week ago so I can confidently say it’s been a most positive change.