New Year, New Attitudes?

All the hype of the New Year seems to pass right by me. Somehow it seems silly to me that we put a date on “renewing” things in our lives that should be a priority every day. Health, happiness, life goals, all end up rolled into a tortilla that we dabble with the latest salsa concoction and attempt to stuff down our throats in huge choking bites.

Again, it’s silly. But it’s also exactly what’s wrong with our world.

(Too bad no one put me in charge or I’d have this straightened out in no time. Ha!)

I was reading an article on cleaning tips for the home today that suggested doing mini tasks everyday to keep up with the clutter of life. The article itself was fine. But then, as I have a habit of doing, I read the comment section. One person started talking about her son not doing a chore up to her standards and immediately claimed that she was OCD because she made him go back and sweep up a pile of leaves he left in a corner.

What?? So now we’re OCD if we make our kids do a chore properly? Really?

I thought that was called “being responsible”.

What is it with declaring ourselves mentally defective? We’ve developed an attitude that if someone doesn’t like something we say or do then we must be defective in some way. Make your kid clean their room? You’re OCD. Make your boss pay you overtime in accordance with federal law? You’re ODD. Feeling blue because you have too many responsibilities and not enough time or money to meet them perfectly? You’re depressed.

It’s ridiculous.

Making your kids clean their room and do chores appropriately and correctly is not being OCD. It’s called teaching responsibility. Would you expect their maths teacher to just let them do math problems however they felt like instead of in the proper sequence? 4 plus 4 is 29? Would you think it’s okay for their English teacher to let them spell words however they felt like? You’re their parents. It’s your job to teach them how to live responsibly, not tell them everything they do is wonderful.

Feeling depressed because you are overwhelmed with all the things life throws at you is not a mental defect. It’s a normal emotion that normal people have and deal with throughout their lives. It’s a state of mind that causes innovation to occur. When you’re feeling depressed, you have a chance to sit back for a moment and evaluate why things aren’t going quite like you want them to. You have time to make a new plan, change an activity, tweak the way your life is going. Truth is we actually need down time.

I’m not sure when this shift in attitude of declaring ourselves mentally incompetent happened. It seems to have come about with labeling our children ADD because school was boring to them. And yet, I think it’s broader than that. I think it has come about as the world we live in has shrunk.

Years ago I was in a restaurant in Washington DC. One of the items on the menu was polenta. They were charging $6 for it as a side item with some cream sauce. I had never heard of polenta before so I asked what it was and the waiter kindly explained it to me in fancy terms, describing how it was made.

All I heard was corn meal mush, fried, with breakfast gravy – minus the sausage, of course.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Really? People were paying $6 for that? Why? Where I grew up in the south, corn meal mush was what poor dirt farmers ate for breakfast every morning because they couldn’t afford bacon, not a fancy menu item in a restaurant. And yet here in Washington DC people were actually buying the stuff as a dish in an upscale restaurant.

I realized then that it was all about attitude and point of view.

Since then I’ve watched as the commercial food industry and cooking shows have morphed what we eat into multiple personalities. Corn meal mush, polenta, grits … it’s all how you look at it. Eggs are good. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good again. You must have cilantro in everything you cook. Ooh, now we like ginger and wasabe paste. Wait, wait, wait – foam. Foam is what you must make for dinner. Freeze dried, low-temp poached (sous vide), organic, raw, non-GMO foam. That’s where it’s at!!

Or earthworms you dig out of a tree and stuff into the intestines of long dead ardvark and cook in blood from a freshly slaughtered pig in a swamp in Louisiana. And don’t forget the beer.

Uh … whatever happened to a good old fashioned cheese burger from the drive-in down the street?

When I was in high school, our English teacher gave us an essay to write. The topic was “If you are too open-minded your brains will fall out.”

Personally, I think we’ve all lost our brains at this point so we no longer have them to fall out. As the internet has closed in on us, international news has become a mainstay, and we no longer have a close group of friends and family that we look to for advice and guidance. No longer do we only have to stand up to three other people in our peer group daring us to drink a beer and smoke a joint, we now have the entire world coaxing us to jump off that cliff.

But it’s all a matter of attitude.

Just because your life isn’t going the same way someone else’s is going, doesn’t mean anything is wrong with it or that anything is wrong with you or that anything needs to change. What you’re doing with your life may be what’s perfectly normal and right for you now and here.

So before we change anything in our lives, or resolve to live up to a pile of new resolutions for the new year, maybe we should first resolve to change our attitude. I, for one, am not OCD even though my kids have to complete their chores properly. How about you?


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