The Story of a Night Awake with My Daughter! #177
We have a choice about what story we tell in each situation. How does the power of choosing what story we tell make a huge impact in our lives just by defining how we see what happened?
After spending most of the night last night awake with my daughter in her room, I am grateful today that I choose to tell a story of gratitude instead of suffering!
Would you read this story because learning how to take control of the story we tell gives us all the power we have in our lives?
Thank you for enjoying day 177 of Happier People Podcast.
The Story of a Night Awake with My Daughter!
We have a choice about what story we tell in any situation. The question is how does the power of choosing what story we tell allow us to make a huge impact in our lives just by seeing how we define what happened?
I'm laying now on the floor where I spent most of the night last night. This is in my daughter's room, this is over by her crib.
Thank God, my wife thought to set the truck blanket up right here by my daughter's crib so that we could lay here when she's having a hard night.
Last night, she had woken up at about 1:00 in the morning after my wife and I went to bed at about 11:00, and my daughter had a hard time going back to sleep. She's about two years old and I have no idea what the cause was.
My wife was up with her from sometime around 1:00 in the morning till about 3:30 or so, then she came to bed and said, “I need help. I can't do it anymore. I'm too tired.”
I got up and came in here, and I spent most of the last six hours right here on the floor with my daughter. I had a wonderful time doing it. The key part of that is the story.
The stories I told related to this is what defined the experience.
I told stories of how grateful I was to spend this time with my daughter: "Thank God, my daughter needs me. I'm useful, I'm helpful, she needs me, I got to hold her hand for hours last night. It was wonderful."
Just telling the story in a bit different way would completely change that experience.
If instead I told the story about: “God, I can't believe this happened. Why is she up in the middle of the night? It's not fair. I don't know if I'm going to be able to work in the morning. I might be too tired. Is this going to start happening every night? Why couldn't my wife have stayed up with her longer? Why couldn't my daughter just fall asleep? What a drag? I have plenty of time with her tomorrow. I don't need this in the middle of the night. It’s going to disrupt my work. It's not fair. Why me? I'm too cold. This floor hurts.”
You see, all those stories make what even just describing, it sounds like a negative experience.
What I've learned is I've got a choice in how I tell the story. I didn't have a choice that my daughter woke up in the middle of the night. I realize this is a fairly minor thing, but this is the exact same way that everything else happens.
This same basic strategy could apply to anything, from something even more minor like the smallest annoyance, spilling a little bit of water on a shirt, or it could happen to something big like a friend or a family member passing on.
The story we tell has a huge power on how we experience life. When we say, "thank you," the story tends to go pretty well. I remember laying on the blanket here last night next to the crib, holding my daughter's hand as my hand is stuck awkwardly into the crib.
I remember saying, “Thank God. Thank God, I have time to spend with my daughter. This is quality time with my daughter. She really needs me right now. She's in the middle of the night, I don't know if she was scared or lonely. She really needs me and it's nice to be needed."
I'm thankful that my wife thought to put this blanket in here because when I first started doing this strategy of laying on the floor with my daughter, there was no blanket. There was no blanket on the floor, this pillow wasn't in here.
This other big Mario blanket down here wasn't there either.
It was just laying straight on the carpet, which again, could be different. It could be outside on the leaves in the rain, it could be on a plush mattress or something.
It was just on the carpet before with this little tiny cow pillow.
That's when I first started doing this months ago. I just laid here in my underwear, in the cold house with this little tiny blanket on, this little tiny pillow and I still had great joy in doing that.
I thanked God, I said, “This is a lot more comfortable than it used to be. It's really nice. I had a wonderful time laying on the floor next to my daughter in the crib."
One thing that can help with this is beginning with the end in mind and this is a frequent exercise meditation I do. I think about from the point of my deathbed at 150 years old when I'm laying in the bed, what would I like to experience this moment that I'm in now from that point of view?
From that point of view, I am extremely grateful for just any moment to be with my daughter. That means whether it's in the middle of the night at 3:30, 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, or whether it's in the middle of the day when she's crying and upset, or whether she's having a great time and running around, or whether I'm coloring with her.
Any moment is equally great and that story has a huge impact on the experience. The story of:"Thank you, thank God for this comfort in here. What remarkable comfort to have in the middle of the night!
That story makes a big difference instead of, when I went to Virginia Tech, I slept on the floor there in approximately the same accommodations. I visited the Army ROTC, I had a scholarship after that I'd intended to accept and after a night on the floor at Virginia Tech, I said, “No. That was too uncomfortable. How dare they make me sleep on the floor?”
I remember tossing and turning all night thinking how stupid and uncomfortable it was, and afraid I was going to be tired the next day. “How dare they give me this sleeping bag on the floor? Can't someone find me a real bed somewhere?”
The story we tell makes a huge difference. The story we tell can change a situation that I laughed at last night because I could so easily picture this situation the exact scenario being miserable with a different story.
I'm at work right now laying on the floor filming a video, "I'm at work. Thank you. Thank you for making that possible."
I am extremely grateful this is possible, which is what motivates me to share with you something that I hope has fantastic power in your life. This is huge. This little thing I'm sharing laying on the floor next to my daughter's crib has huge power.
I'll show you what it looks like in the opposite, so you can feel it for a minute.
Let's feel the energy, let's feel how it feels to tell this story a different way.
Let's picture me instead being at work, and I did this a ton of times, a lot of times, just a bunch of times.
I was at work talking about something, complaining about, "You know, the major, he's really got his head up his rear end. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Yes, he ought to do this. He ought to change this policy and I ought to be able to do that. He should be able to do this. She doesn't know what she's talking about. I can't believe they just let her collect a paycheck. Oh yes, the sergeant, he's really out to get me. I don't know why he does this."
Now, picture that exact same scenario put into this story.
Let's just translate how I used to behave, and then frequently be miserable needing to drown my feelings in alcohol and other addictions too like gambling or sex.
Let's picture this exact scenario where I spent the night on the floor with my daughter.
Let's tell the story and feel how the energy is in the way I used to do it.
Picture that I'm back at work and I've got a co-worker.
Me: “Oh God. You know what happened last night?”
Like the co-worker really cares what happened last night.
The co-worker is really just hoping to get their turn in to tell their own story.
Co-worker: "What? What, Jerry? What happened last night?"
Me: “Well, God, my daughter wakes up at 2:00 in the morning. I mean, come on, can't she wait till 3:00 or 4:00, or something? She wakes up way early in the morning. We just went to bed at 11:00 at night."
"She's two years old, she should be over this. Shouldn't she? Come on. So she wakes up, my wife slept with her for an hour or two. I don't know, but she has time for a nap later if she wants. I have to work."
"My wife goes in there and she only is in there for a couple hours, then she comes back in and she can't handle it anymore. She has to wake me up, but God, doesn't she know I've got to get up and work in the morning?"
"Then I go in there and of course my daughter is screaming for her mother: 'Mommy, mommy.' Why do I even need to be up for this? My wife could’ve just stayed in there and no, no, I have to go in here and deal with this.”
"Then I lay on the floor and what she wants to do, she wants to hold my hand and my hand is just in these bars, and it's so uncomfortable. I'm laying on this floor. Why am I laying on this floor when I have a bed in the next room that's so comfortable? It doesn't make any sense. God, why me? Why me?"
"Of course, my daughter doesn't want to just fall asleep, she wants to talk to me: 'Daddy, daddy.' It's 4:00 in the morning, I don't want to talk right now, I just want to sleep. I’ve got to work in the morning. Don’t you understand? No, you don't because you're two years old.”
"Then, it's just miserable because I'm just like thinking how tired I'm going to be for work the next day and what a drag. I got this stupid thing coming up later. Then she finally falls asleep, and then I'm so tired, and this floor is so miserably uncomfortable."
"My neck keeps hurting, I have to keep tossing and turning. I don't think I got 10 minutes of sleep. Then she wants to get up in the morning and immediately have me get up, God.”
"Then my wife comes in, is hurrying her off, and then God, I have to get to work right away. Now I'm going to be late. What a miserable morning, man! I didn't sign up for this, being a parent. After two years they should be sleeping properly, right? God, I hope this crap doesn't happen again tonight because I don't know if I'm going to be able to take it.”
Wow! I feel like I just spewed out, did you hear that?
That's how I used to sound. That's the story I used to tell almost every day about something.
Did you hear the difference between the story I told first, and then retelling it a different way?
Now, that is completely within my power. No one gets to dictate. I can let people dictate, but no one gets to dictate the stories I tell. That felt horrible, just telling it the second way. Telling it like "poor me," what a victim I am because my beautiful daughter woke up in the middle of the night and needed my help. It was wonderful and that's how I got to experience it.
I experienced it as wonderful, but you see, if I would have sat there, this is a choice we have each moment, how we tell our stories. If I would have told the story the way I just told it to you, I would not be happy. I'm fantastically happy this morning. I'm very grateful to be alive and be here to have this to share today, and you know that.
If you are watching the video, you can hear it in my voice and you can see it in my face. Even though you're not actually here in the room as I'm creating this, you can feel how I feel about the story I'm telling.
We each have the power to decide what story we're telling. All you have to do is just try telling a story a different way and see how it feels. See how it feels to tell a story from another point of view.
Now, in some situations, you may have your car at the dealer and they're telling you it's going to be $300, and you just don't know another way to tell the story besides how miserable it is and that's where it takes asking for help. It takes finding someone who has the energy we want, the love and the positivity. It might take a call with a friend or a family member.
I could have just called up a family member this morning perhaps and said, “Look, I've complained all night about staying up on my daughter, how do I tell a nice story, how do I tell a story I want to experience to be in the middle of?”
Then, that family member likely would have told me the same thing.
“Well, aren't you grateful you got to spend the night with your daughter? Think about all the dads out there who don't get to see their daughters, who've never even met their daughters or who don't get to spend time with their daughters. Think about all the dads who would have given anything to have a night on the floor and hold their daughter's hand.”
I think of that now because I am connected with other people. This is the normal way I think now because I've learned it from other people as I learned how to tell all those negative stories from other people as well.
It takes intentionally looking at how someone else is living their lives sometimes and saying, “Oh, okay, that's how he's interpreting this. That's how I want to interpret it too."
That's why I do this video, that's why I call it Happier People Podcast, so that it's possible for you wherever you're at in the world to learn for free with no email signup and no BS. You can learn for free how I tell stories in my life, how I live a life today that I love and I'm very grateful for, and I'm full of joy at every situation.
Every single moment is not utter pure joy and bliss, but 99% of it is. The other 1% is even a joy to experience, sometimes a little bit of sadness, misery and frustration just for variety, because then I come back right away with another lesson to tell. We each have this power of story in every single thing that happens to us every single day, we have the choice of what story we're going to tell about it.
I'm extremely grateful to be here with you this morning.
I love you, you're awesome.
Thank you very much to my friend Jimmy Cuccurullo. He asked about motivation and this story I choose to tell is a huge part of how I get motivated.
The story I told this morning is, “Man, I've got a perfect video ready to make based on what happened last night.” Thank you for that and that's how I'm so motivated. I love you. I'll see you later.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of Happier People Podcast, which was originally filmed as the video below in my daughter's bedroom.
I appreciate you being here and I hope you have a wonderful day today.
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Jerry Banfield with edits by @gmichelbkk on the transcript by GoTranscript
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