The Sweet Relief of Finding Out Your Significant Other Doesn’t Have a Brain Tumor
If you’re feeling like your loved one has been taking you for granted, go and get an MRI of your head, and watch how much they shower you with love and attention and “holy shit please don’t die we haven’t even gone to the Croatian coast together yet” energy while you wait for the results to come in. It’s a real relationship booster!
The Husband just had an MRI for a bunch of nagging symptoms that didn’t not look like it could be from an ominous tumor growing in his brain.
Although we poked fun at the possibility of it, gave the maybe-it’s-a-tumor a nickname, and lived life as though everything was perfectly-pretend-normal (i.e.: we still went to Trader Joes, I got tipsy in the hot tub, he washed the car), I wasn’t not shitting my pants.
I waxed philosophic before here about the notion of mental subtraction, which is an exercise we can do to stop taking things for granted. In a nutshell: vividly imagine something good in your life not being there, and watch how much its perceived value soars. Imagining the love of your life being riddled with a brain tumor (maybe or maybe not named Tucker), and then of course dying an agonizingly slow and merciless death because of it … well you can fill in the blanks. Let’s just say I appreciate The Husband more today (post call from the doctor that his MRI was “unremarkable”) than I ever have before (well … almost as much as when he got me that flourless chocolate cake filled with a dulce de leche ganache topped with French vanilla buttercream and a chocolate drizzle from Molly’s Cupcakes for my birthday). Researchers have found that study participants who who “wrote about how they might never have met their romantic partner were more satisfied with their relationship than were those who wrote about how they did meet their partner.” I’ll just let that simmer inside your head for a moment.
Let’s do a little mental subtraction savoring exercise together.
You can see where our conversation is going here, right friends?
Imagine someone you care about having a persistent headache for two months. Imagine this person’s right eye inexplicably droops so it’s half-open, like all the time. Imagine their doctor doesn’t like the sound of this along with a sprinkling of other symptoms, and so this loved one is sent for an MRI … PDQ.
Would you look at your loved one with a newfound kind of appreciation?
Researchers have identified eight aspects of appreciation (which we more or less delved into here); the one that’s most pertinent here has to do with the appreciation of something in relation to the idea of losing it. This sounds like Prospect Theory 101: we’re more affected by what we have to lose than what we have to gain of similar value.
We really can heighten our appreciation for the people who matter in our lives if we imagine losing them. So at the risk of being excessively morbid (no such thing for me, I know, I know), let’s do that on a regular basis. I encourage us every week here on this Four Thousand Mondays blog to imagine our own inevitable demise, so that we can experience our own lives in a wider and deeper way … but it’s just as applicable to the ones we love, too (humans and animals). We can practice memento mori (remembering we will die) beyond our inwardly focused little selves. We can memento mori the crap out of all the people we care about.
Is The Husband feeling great yet? No, but it’ll work out somehow, at some point hopefully soon. Between us, I’m a wee bit grateful we had this little scare. While his MRI was unremarkable, I’m hellbent on making our lives together utterly remarkable. No more taking him for granted, even if we are just popping into Trader Joe’s on a ho-hum Saturday morning. So … who do you need to imagine waiting for MRI results for? If you feel gripped by feelings of loss, act on it. Do something special, because you never know when Tucker the tumor will rear his ugly head.
P.S.: I really think we should connect on Instagram!
P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!
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