Rough Day? Do the Opposite

It was one of those days. You know the kind. I was grumbly, the toddler was whiny, and there were a million things to do. Nothing seriously wrong, just everything a little off. That kind of day.

By the time the teenager came home from school, I was full-on cranky. I knew that I was prepared to snap at any little upset, so I worked hard to keep my mouth shut.

On our way to the orthodontist, the teenager took over the radio. He changed the station and turned it up, I turned it back down. I was in no mood for loud music. I just wanted quiet.

But then a weird thing happened, I came into awareness. I recognized that I was in a bad mood and that there was no reason to be cranky toward my teen.

In that moment, I made a conscious effort to change the way I felt (or at least fake it as best I could). I did the opposite of what I thought I wanted in that moment. I said to my teen, "You know what? You're right. We could use some good music," and I turned the radio back up. Then we car danced. Both of us.

I'm not going to pretend it completely turned my day around, but I definitely felt a small shift. (A shift that was undone when I praised myself for arriving at the orthodontist 5 minutes early only to find out I had the appointment time wrong and was, in fact, 55 minutes late. It was that kind of day.)

After the orthodontist, I took my teen for our customary milkshake. (This is something my mom did for me after every orthodontist appointment when I was a kid. Not only was it a special treat, it also helped numb the teeth a little from the tightened wires. I've carried on that tradition.)

While in the drive-thru lane, I once again acknowledged the grumpiness, saying to myself, "I'm frustrated today." And because I was frustrated, I tried to give someone else a good day: I paid for the meal of the person behind me. "I don't know them," I explained to the drive-thru attendant. "Just tell them to have a good day."

My teenager thought that was pretty cool. "Whoa! That was like a movie. I mean I've seen that in movies and stuff, but I didn't know people actually did that. I wish we could see his expression."

It occurred to me I had possibly just imparted a lesson about kindness. In the midst of my own grumbliness.

I drove away listening to him chatter and watching him twist in his seat to try to see the other car leave.

That was when I smiled. That was when I decided the day wasn't all that bad.

Try it. When you find yourself in a grumbly moment, do the opposite of what you want to do. Maybe you'll make someone else smile and maybe you'll even find your own smile in the process.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful way to end a not so perfect day. I bet that is something your teenager will remember for a long time. It would have been cool to see the face of the person who received such a nice gift.

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  2. […] Changing my mood on a tough day. […]

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