Yesterday was not a good day.
Work was frustrating. A call to Isaac turned into a brief pissing match about who was busier and more burned out. (Don’t worry; we resolved it quickly and no one was the winner!) It snowed all day and the drive home from work was slippery and painstakingly slow. To top it all off, while Beatrix and I were enjoying a good game of fetch in the backyard she suddenly ran to the corner of the fence that she can fling herself over and hopped into the neighbors yard. As she and I walked back around to our house I contemplated sitting down on the sidewalk, in the middle of a snowstorm and next to a busy road, and sobbing; I had been having a good time and relaxing while playing with Bea, but when she jumped the fence all the emotions that go with owning her/a fence jumper came flying into my face. Compound those emotions with everything else that happened yesterday, it was just not a good day at all.
When I arrived home I pouted for a bit, and then decided to start reading my beloved Real Simple magazine that had arrived in the mail. In the “Life Lessons” section I stopped flipping the pages; if I believed in fate I would have thought this a sign. The topic was “5 ways to keep one bad thing from ruining your day”. I think I had at least six things that ruined my day, but hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get! Gretchen Rubin’s (author of The Happiness Project) “Fake Joy” suggestion hit me smack in the forehead.
“We think that we act because of how we feel. But we also feel because of how we act. So use this knowledge to change your mood. Jump up and down; getting both feet of the ground makes you feel childlike and energetic. Or go for a walk. Just this morning I got an unnerving e-mail from someone and felt lousy about it. So I headed out for a walk in Central Park with a friend. So many things that tend to make a person happy are wrapped up in one little thing – a walk. It really works! When I got home, I wasn’t irritated anymore. I realized, yeah, I got my perspective back.”
Her words reminded me of mat work with the dogs. As you’re teaching them to relax on the mat their first “relaxation” might be faked because they’re just interested in the treat. Over time, however, they stop faking and start relaxing – after enough faking it their response becomes real. I guess that’s why sometimes people say “smile!” if you’re looking grumpy, and it makes sense to me.
With the exception of Beatrix jumping the fence, none of what happened yesterday will be a problem for me in the long-term. The 20 or so minutes we spent playing in the backyard before Queen Bea excused herself were great. It wasn’t until we were walking back that I even realized how stressed and grumpy I had been all day!
I’ve tucked Gretchen Rubin’s words away for future reference. The next time I will do something different – go take a walk, jump up and down with a grin on my face, whatever it takes – to disengage my negative mindset.