My father-in-law, Saki, who lives in Greece, came to visit us for 3 weeks this summer. While he was here, he ran an overnight race of 54 kilometers (about 33.55 miles) on Estrella mountain range. Running this distance on a mountain range at night is difficult enough, but this was in June in Phoenix, with temperatures over 100 degrees, even at night. I should mention that before he came to visit, he sent me an email to ask me what I thought about the race. I sent a quick reply explaining that it would be “brutal”– the temperatures are so high here, even at night, that I wouldn’t recommend running it. I guess “brutal” was the wrong thing to say because Saki promptly wrote back saying that he loves a good challenge and he had signed up for the race.
Imagine if we had the same mindset when challenges came up in our stepfamily life. What if, instead of shying away from those challenges, we embraced them and used them as an opportunity for personal growth?
So, the temperature was about 105 degrees when Saki started the race at 7 pm, and it did drop down, but he ran all night until he finished around 4 am. He had two headlamps, but the batteries died in both of them, so he ended up running the last 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) in the dark with only the moonlight to light the path. Saki is 71 years old. And if you’re thinking he is one of those people who has been running marathons all his life, you’re wrong. He ran his first marathon when he was 60. (Pretty amazing, right?) When I asked him how he is able to run these long distances, his response was, “It’s all in your mindset.”
Mindset is also key in your stepfamily life. How are you approaching difficult situations? In any situation, you can look at challenges in a negative way, or you can train yourself to adapt to a situation so you can do your best. Having a positive outlook is also better for your health. Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor of Medicine Lisa Yanek, M.P.H. found that people with a family history of heart disease who had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack within five to 25 years than those who had a negative mindset.
In Saki’s case, since he wasn’t used to the desert heat in the summer, he ran a few night runs to prepare. Even though the race was challenging, he approached it with a positive attitude and decided on the proper steps to be successful and finish the race. When his headlamps died and he was running in the dark, he didn’t give up. On the contrary, that made him all the more determined to finish the race.
We can take the same approach with the challenges in our stepfamily life. Of course, no matter how much we prepare, obstacles will still come up and we’ll have to decide how to react to those situations. That’s when our mindset will make all the difference. Bob Bitchin best sums up this idea with a quote– “The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude.”
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