Three Good Things
Shortly after our son was born, we went to the ward office to process his registration. One of the departments we had to visit was the one providing child support. After speaking with the person in charge, this was our exchange.
“You wouldn’t believe this,” my husband said, animated.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Two things. One is that we will now be receiving ¥30,000 a month, ¥15,000 each for Ruby and Little C.”
“Yes, I know that much.”
“Hon, that’s a lot of money. That’s almost half our rent,” he said. “I thought that would make you happy.”
“It does. It does. What’s the second thing you were going to tell me?” I asked impatiently.
“Six months ago, they stopped the payments for Ruby’s child support. Apparently, we failed to submit a confirmation of our address. Just now, they had me fill up a form confirming our address and next month, we will receive a lump sum of the back payments. All six months’ worth! Isn’t that wonderful?” he said as he smiled broadly.
“Didn’t I ask you before whether we were receiving child support for Ruby? If you checked your bank book then, you would have known we weren’t receiving anything.” I replied irritably. I felt vindicated for all my nagging in the past.
My husband went on about how this is probably another case of “only in Japan.” In other countries, they would probably have forfeited the payments because we didn’t submit our forms on time. I, on the other hand, went on about how he should have listened to me and checked whether we were getting the allowance in the first place. The conversation was getting ugly.
He stopped, turned to me and said, “So you’re saying, if I listened to you before, I wouldn’t be happy right now?”
“No, I… what?” I was confused. “Oh….” suddenly getting the humor and absurdity of the situation. We both laughed.
It seems easier to notice and dwell on what’s wrong more than what’s right. I wonder why. Is it the satisfaction of being correct? It is not even an uplifting or enduring kind of satisfaction. When reality fails to meet my expectation, I become disappointed, frustrated, sometimes depressed, and I experience a paucity of the spirit. I shrink into myself and my world becomes narrower. I am unable to see that there is so much goodness to celebrate. I have crowded my vision with negativity.
My husband has an exercise he likes to do every now and then. He starts by saying “Three good things” and then proceeds to list three things that he’s grateful for at that moment and then he says “Your turn,” so between us, that’s six good things. It can be a fun exercise but it is hardest to do them when you need them the most. There is no doubt though that we feel better, even by a slight measure, after the exercise.
I have never said this to him but one of my three good things is having a husband who pushes me to see three good things and recognize the gifts and the miracles around me.