You never know where you’re going to get the next piece of wisdom. Yesterday my son and I were at Trader Joe’s grocery store, enjoying a quick morning chat with a store employee named Wendy who runs the sample station. Wendy is one of those persons who knows how to talk to kids and really listens. We’ve become quite attached to her after shopping at this store and exchanging conversation multiple times. On this particular morning, my son was sharing some thoughts about what he liked and didn’t like about his recent 6th grade camp experience, and this was Wendy’s response:
(I am doing this from memory, so may not be exactly word for word what she said)
“My uncle told me when I was your age that the secret to a happy life is ‘feed the love, starve the anger.’ Focus on all the good things that happened at camp and let go of the rest. Don’t think about the bad stuff, don’t dwell on it, think about the things you liked, what made you happy. If you do this kind of thing all your life, you’ll be a happier person.”
I joined the conversation at this point. And Wendy shared how she and her ex-husband were mad at each other for a while after their divorce, but they decided at some point it was time to “feed the love and starve the anger.” She said they both started thinking about all the good times, made a decision to stop replaying in their heads all the fighting and everything that didn’t work. They’ve gradually developed a friendly relationship, something that happened after she “forced herself” to focus on the good.
Wow, I wish I could take this lady home and keep her around. And she should speak at my divorce seminars.
It’s really that simple, isn’t it. Feed the love, starve the anger. And yet it’s so hard to do in life, particularly in a divorce.
I’ve been walking around the past 24 hours with this on my mind, and every time a negative thought comes into my head, I think, “Starve it and think about something positive.” I’m noticing that my mind is like a young, untrained child, not able to focus for very long. It wants so badly to go back to worrying and thinking about negative stuff—stuff I can’t even change! I laugh at myself, thinking how I’m supposed to be an inspirational writer and here I can’t even take my own advice.
Wherever you are today in your process, just start running that line through your head. I’m going to keep trying. And let’s see what happens.