The premiere of Downton Abbey’s newest season finally came to North America last week. I sat watching the drama of the estate take place, dreaming of what it might be like live in a time where I would have a lady’s maid… or perhaps more realistically, be a lady’s maid. In between Mary’s drama and the ongoing storyline in the servant’s hall, a commercial popped up on TV. A man was going through his house unaware of himself leaving dirty dishes around, missing the laundry basket and using the washroom with the door open as he talked about all of the changes he would be making for the better in this New Year. A simple humorous play at stereotypical male behaviour, and evidently an effective commercial.
This scene came to mind later that week as I was finding myself frustrated with my husband that the garbage had not been taken out and the light bulb in or tiny kitchen had yet to be changed. I opened my mouth to make some snarky comment, to nag for him to do what he was supposed to do. I was once again taking it upon myself to remind him, a grown adult, of his responsibilities that I had placed on him. I was once again focused on what he was not doing.
But just before the words spewed from my mouth, a flash of the commercial came to mind. As much as there are things that could be changed, there are a lot more things that he does do that truly go unnoticed. I thought of the man in the commercial and his lack of care for cleanliness, manners, and self-awareness in general and began to realize that my husband doesn’t fall into this category. He makes the bed each morning, helps to keep the house neat and tidy, and does dishes throughout the day. He takes out the garbage, puts away many of my things, and puts away his clothes… the list goes on.
I began to be reminded how quickly I can take for granted what my husband does do and spend much of my time focused on what he hasn’t done yet. I wonder what might take place if I begin to recognize those things that I have simply come to expect and start to let go of the little things that I am not responsible for. What if I worried more about the things that I need to change than to focus on what he needs to change?
As I began to think about this, I realized that this fits in many areas of my life. Perhaps I am the one wandering through the house speaking of all the great things I’m going to do in this New Year without any awareness of the things that I could be working on myself. Maybe I fall into the category of talking about being more patient or grateful in one breath as I nag my husband about the garbage with the next. Perhaps it is my own self-awareness that needs to grow.
In light of the goals and resolutions that spring up everywhere from social media to marketing schemes at big-box gyms, I think that I need to make just one. I need to be more aware. Aware of the words I choose to use and the topics I choose to bring up. Aware of what others do rather than what they don’t do. Aware of my own mess before I point out the mess of others. Awareness. A seemingly simple goal that may actually lead to the gratitude, patience, routine and better habits that I’ve wanted to put in place for a few years.
And as a bonus, I’m sure my husband won’t mind my pursuit of this new awareness too.