My mom’s favorite phrase, “It could always be worse”

It could always be worse” and “It doesn’t get better than this” were two of my mom’s favorite phrases.

Mom, I hated the first one SOOO much growing up, even though I knew you were right. If I was going through something hard like being cut from the basketball team or something small like running out of my favorite cereal. “It could always be worse” was all you had to say. When I really wasn’t in the mood, I’d mumble under my breath “No Mom, you’re wrong. This really is the worst.” It only took me a few seconds to contradict myself and I would immediately think of the dozens people I knew that had it far worse than me.

Those five words have taught me a simple, yet powerful truth. The truth, that no matter what was happening to me on that particular day, it could always definitely get worse. As an adult, I’ve found comfort in the most challenging of moments because of the keen awareness that I am privileged and for that I’m grateful. I developed it being your son. I am very privileged because I am.

l continue to have challenges as an adult, but with a small shift of perspective due to what you taught me, I realize I don’t have any real reason to complain.

The other spin on these five words is to imagine my own situation actually becoming worse. Just like comparing myself to others who were less fortunate, I can always quickly think of ways my immediate situation can become worse and it makes me appreciate my humanity. It made me focus on what I had, not what I didn’t have.

On the other hand, during the good times I remember you saying “It doesn’t get better than this.” Those special words were spoken during the quiet times as we hiked up to a waterfall or read a favorite book around a campfire.

It doesn’t get better than this” taught me to embrace the small and simple things and to find peace in being content and simply ‘having enough’. These words were spoken as a declaration and there wasn’t much cause for argument. You were right.

Life was really good.

Mom, I still hear your voice. Some twenty years later and more hikes and campfires than I can count, I hear you and I’m sharing your message.

So Happy Mother’s Day Mom-this is my ‘not nearly big enough’ gift to you. Writing a quick blog piece, from a thousand miles away, reflecting on how your smallest of words have left the largest impressions.

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