Friday, April 30, 2010

Lauren and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

I don't like to admit it, but here it goes...I occasionally feel crabby. Yup, it's true. I do my best to pretend that i am immune to feelings of irritability, anger and frustration, but really, secretly, i can sometimes be cranky. In an effort to help, in the past 24 hours, i have been told to:
  •  make a gratitude list
  • count your blessings
  •  appreciate the sunshine
  • think of how much worse it could be
  •  take a bath
  • watch a movie
  •  read a good book
  • sit outside in the sun
  •  take a walk
  • stretch
  •  walk in the sun (apparently all is better in the sun – which is true considering I’m an Arizona girl at heart and used to 362 days of sunshine per year)
  • call a friend
  • make some tea
  • drink less tea
  •  have some chicken soup
  •   just be happy because no one wants to be around someone who’s cranky
  • allow myself to be cranky
  • be cranky but don’t tell anyone
  • be cranky and share how you feel
  • stop focusing on what’s wrong and focus on what’s going well in your life

Now, these are all great suggestions and I appreciate all of the advice, feedback, pep talks, etc. However, in my experience, these tasks are great for when you’re feeling great and want to feel better. For example, when I wake up and I’m just glad to be alive, making a gratitude list is easy and meaningful. When I wake up and am engulfed by the realization that there are now a good fifteen hours in the day that I have no clue how to fill and just want to pull the covers over my head and hibernate, a gratitude list is still do-able, but doesn’t really seem to help things.

Gratitude list on a happy, joyous and free morning:
  • my family
  •  my friends
  •  the beautiful sunshine and warmth
  • living in my own apartment
  • taking warm baths
  • the smell of orange blossoms

ah yes, life is good.

Gratitude list on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day:
  • not having any broken bones
  •  being able to breathe
  •  having a place to live
  •  still being alive

still all very true – but doesn’t seem to quite do the trick in terms of propelling me over into the ‘singing in the rain’ spirit.

That’s the problem with some of these tools. They’re great when you don’t really need them, but when you are grasping at anything to wash away the greyness of the day, they seem to fall short. Maybe it’s just me…or maybe, just maybe, I’m trying to hard to just be happy all of the time.

It seems that we are told through the various forms of evil media that happiness is the ultimate goal, something that is achievable 24 hours a day. And I buy into this every time. I know – ‘what we resist persists’. And yet, when is good time to be crabby? Because it’s true – who wants to come and visit someone who’s not a happy camper? Then again, most of the time, I am my own company, and I don’t even want to be around myself like that.  However, I must admit – my way…this idea that I can somehow force myself to be happy, talk myself out of feeling occasionally irritable, brow beat myself into a blissful state – it doesn’t really seem to be working. Shocking, I know. My way of thinking often gets me into trouble – a lesson I seem to need to learn over and over again.

So knowing all of this and being reluctant to try all of these tools when they seem useless, the magic is that sometimes the thing that you least expect to help is the thing that turns the day around.  Today it was simply a phone call – reaching out to someone else I love, sharing in their day, bantering back and forth – that was all it took. And then the unexpected news that my puppy, the best dog in the world of which I will tolerate no debate on, is coming to stay with me for a while. And that was it – the magic potion that colored in the rest of the day.

Because now, knowing this, all of a sudden, the sunshine is bright again and I am grateful and the edges of my life seem softer. This I know for sure – it’s always the little things that make the most difference. Those quick hugs and reassuring words, the shared laughter with a friend, the invigorating walk or the quote from a book that lingers…it is how I relocate my happiness. So it’s not that the suggestions don’t work or that the tools are useless. Rather, it’s the inability to know which one is going to do the trick. And since I can never know, it’s better to try, even if they don’t make a different in that moment, than to just sit and stew and wish for a brighter tomorrow. 

I don’t know about you, but for me, a dog’s wagging tail and unbridled love when you walk in the door makes it almost impossible not to feel at least a hint of joy. Even the anticipation of her arrival is enough for today. The looking forward to a promised glee is often just as good as the actual event.

Now, it’s entirely possible that I’ll wake up tomorrow to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but for right now, I think I’ll just enjoy this happiness and go sit in the sunshine. 

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