Monday, March 30, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
I’m a planner, you see. Growing up, my Dad was really into these Myers-Briggs personality tests that break down our operational motivations into 4 categories: introvert or extrovert, thinker or feeler, intuitive or sensor and judger or perceiver. It’s this last category that has caused no small amount of strife for me, because I am a judger who grew up in a houseful of perceivers.
Judgers prefer life to be more structured and decided; perceivers are more flexible and adaptable. I know this makes me sound like a stick-in-the-mud but believe me, you WANT a judger on your team when it comes to things like hotel reservations, financial planning and basically all things that require organization. However, the down side is, when all of my careful planning goes down the tubes, I may start drooling and banging my head against a wall.
So I was driving by a church that had one of those signs out front—I am a big fan of the church sign as a rule—and this one said, “The good news is the bad news is wrong”. That is the Lord working in a NOT so mysterious way; the sign was in front of a church after all and I am sure I am not the only person driving by who needed to hear that.
But it made me think of our obsession with labeling things as “good” or “bad”. From behaviors to foods to movies to appearance, we have made some universal decisions as a species about what is “good” and “bad”, but then as individuals we have our whole world broken down this way as well. Which leads me to the “good” part of my “bad” week.
My kid’s response to this was, “That’s impossible. God doesn’t have a bad side.”
Whew. Out-of-the-mouths-of-babes, and he is absolutely correct. It is impossible to get on God’s bad side because God doesn’t have one.
So why do we? I’m not saying there is no use in discernment; on the contrary, discernment is not only helpful, it’s fun! There is hilarity to be had in agreeing that some things are “bad” (like the way bowling alleys and roller skating rinks smell) and some things are “good” (like pizza and sunsets) and the wonderful truth that my #onetruelove Stephen King expressed in his masterwork CUJO: “There is no bad time for good news.”
I have no idea what is going to happen in the big picture as a result of my “bad” news, but I do know that we don’t have the expression “It’s a blessing in disguise” for no reason. Some of my biggest disappointments have turned out to be some of my most fortunate redirections, and some of my most exciting triumphs have turned out to be not much more than smoke and mirrors. Good news, bad news, I don’t know.
But often enough we discover, when we are able to let go of our plan and see what develops, that the good news is the bad news was wrong after all.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Yes, I actually said that. On the phone the other day, I dispensed this priceless wisdom: “Well, when you are happy, you’re happy.” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is why I get THE BIG BUCKS. An endless font of insight, I am. But truthfully, I think this is the crux of the expression “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When we are unhappy, we tend to micro focus on the people and situations in our life that we believe are contributing to our unhappiness. But when we are happy, we are more likely to “go general”…that is, appreciate the beauty of the forest and not worry so much about the ticks, mosquitos and wood rot.
Happiness is expansive and broad; unhappiness
is constricting and specific. There is a
great scene in the movie “Groundhog Day” (Holla, Bill Murray!) when Phil has
relived the same day so many times that all of its nuances are fully realized
by him, and he sort of breezes through the hours literally catching people
mid-fall with a smile on his face…no longer worried about the details, he is
able to fully enjoy the experience of living.
There are no fears because he is assured that generally things are going
to be okay.
I had a conversation with a friend this week in which she described a confrontation she had as “yoga off the mat”. That is, breathing through the accusations, the vitriol…staying grounded and present in spite of the roaring hurricane. Understanding that no matter what, you are okay. I’ve never been a fan of the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because seriously? Is that the standard we are going for, really? But there can be the positive takeaway that every day is a new chance, and every day we are better prepared and equipped to make the most of our opportunities than we ever have before.
If you are depressed about something, most likely you will become inert and feel powerless to change your situation; but if you become angry, you will start to get your juices flowing, start thinking of solutions, start making some moves. Any emotion can be a useful tool of progress, so long as it represents relief from what you were feeling before. Anxiety is a habit as much as smoking and it can be pretty tough to quit that endless loop of worry. But you are worried when you worry, and that gets you nowhere. Stop obsessing about the specifics and reflect generally on your life. In most cases, thankfully, you will realize that as my Dad used to say, “You are fine.”
I have a lot of things I do when I am feeling unhappy to turn the tide around, so to speak. Listening to songs that make me feel good, hanging out with my kid, going for a walk. Because when I do things that make me happy, I am happy. Ha, that priceless wisdom for you again. A few years ago for lent, I decided to give up criticizing myself for 40 days. Holy cow, was THAT a Herculean challenge! I had no real cognizance of how frequently I said unkind or unflattering things to myself inside my head. It took real diligence to kick the habit, basically by simply being aware of the thoughts and course correcting whenever I had one.
Progress, not perfection but I will say it made an enormous difference in my outlook on life. Now, whenever I think something that doesn’t feel good I notice it, and try for a better feeling thought. Or listen to a song that makes me smile, or read a quote that inspires me. Because I am happy when I am happy. So I do everything in my power to be happy whenever I can manage it. And when I can’t, that’s okay too. Feeling unhappy is a useful guidepost to help us figure out the changes we need to make in our lives and the direction we need to go in to get back to happy. Because what is more important than being happy, when you really think about it? When we are happy, all is well; we see the beauty of the forest. When we are happy, we realize we don’t need to change a thing.