Yesterday was a crabby day. Not all of it. But, admittedly, a chunk of it. I didn’t hear the alarm and woke up much, much later. I was thoroughly annoyed. I had wanted to get a few things off my work list before I headed out Christmas shopping. And there I was, feeling behind in the schedule I had set for myself, from the word GO. My late start and subsequent bad mood made it nearly impossible to make good progress towards crossing things off my ToDo list. My bad mood made it difficult for me to locate the “reset” switch; the morning quickly became a struggle as I battled to reach equilibrium.
It has gotten easier though, over time, to “reset” myself. Years ago, a day like yesterday would have been a bad day all day, and possibly, turned into a bad week, a bad month. What made a profound difference for me was learning to identify the activities, thoughts, and situations that consistently help make me feel calm, contented, and joyful.
My list of things I know make me feel better:
- Hiking/a walk in the woods
- Gratitude list
- Cooking dinner
- A good laugh with a friend
- A pedicure
- A massage
A few years ago I wouldn’t have taken such a list seriously, in part because I didn’t even realize how much I needed a mindset shift, and honestly, I don’t know if I could have even identified what activities, thoughts, and situations would take me to a happier state of mind; that is how shut down I was. Life had to hit rock bottom before I committed myself to happiness.
Getting outside and doing something physical, like biking, running, or hiking tops my list.
Yesterday though, I didn’t feel like I could devote that kind of time to turning my day around. So I called a girlfriend hoping for a good laugh. Unfortunately, she was also crabby. Not good. But, as I talked with her and listened, really listened, to my list of complaints, I knew I had to get a grip on myself. It helped my cell phone died. I was forced to sit there in my car, alone, without the option of inviting anyone else into my downward spiral. What to do? First, Deep Breath, and then, I did what I like to do while biking, hiking, or running: create a Grateful List.
I like to state each item out loud as I think about what I am truly grateful for in that moment. My Grateful List as it frequently turns out, is fairly extensive. Here were the top five:
- My guy who, on his way out the door, ran to the store to buy a gallon of milk for me.
- Our Christmas Tree, all light up and sparkly.
- My crabby girlfriend who in her crabbiness called me out on my litany of complaints (a good friend indeed!)
- The wonders of the automobile and a tank full of gas.
- A sunny day.
By the time I reached town my mood was vastly improved by the 20 minutes of sitting there being grateful; so improved I credit the front row (or nearly front row) parking at all the stores to my change of heart. And, my Christmas shopping actually felt inspired and joyful. I got done in record time and was able to head home to get other stuff done. The afternoon felt brilliant. Later, I treated myself to salsa, chips, and a yummy margarita. Because after all, it is important to savor a victory!