Smile Like You Mean It


Brandon Flowers - Smile like you mean it

Even glamorous indie rock-and-roll stars get down in the dumps too.

A good friend linked me a recent article on Yahoo! SHE, probably spurred by another long text-versation I had with her about another cloudy day in the office. I guess she knew me well enough to understand that where consoling words, nagging, and/or level-headed advice won’t reach me, a good article would.

The full prose is available here. But I thought I’d write down this list of 5 supposedly “instant ways to get out of emotional spunk” together with my personal musings. Just to let the lessons sink in deeper. I’d like a chunk of chocolate now to help with my mood, but I don’t have any at the moment, and THAT IS OKAY.

1. Catch yourself when you start complaining. One of my friends from work won an all expenses paid trip to Hong Kong as a sales performance bonus. The day before she flew off, she was complaining about the full intinerary that will surely kill her feet, the lack of time in the schedule for any shopping, the possible jet lag (??) and the work load she’s leaving behind. I had to smile as she ranted away — the conversation is a virtual duplicate of the sample situation from the original article. It’s just funny because it is so true and so real. Sometimes we have this great tendency to focus on the negatives, when all we really have to do is to enjoy the free trip.

2. Problem solve. A huge chunk of my current job is fire fighting. And though I admittedly get cranky when the mistakes I have to fix are repetitive or are times just irritatingly rooted on stupidity, I anchor myself on the fact that I can fix it. I enjoy the challenge of looking at the gaps and filling them, until the problem is successfully solved. I guess that’s the key mindset there: knowing that what you have on your plate must be a problem you can fix. Which leads us to the next tip–

3. Give and ask for help. Sometimes the shit hole looks too deep because it’s not a one-man dig. For an introverted, Type 5 person like me, my biggest challenge is to accept that. There is a veil between me and the rest of the world, and I like working behind it. When things go south however, I’m forced to admit I need help. Most recent case in point is my Strategic Management paper for graduate school. The thing nearly drove my brain to pieces, and I was forced to concede that I needed friends, professors, classmates to talk to. Because my overheating laptop will never answer my questions. When I survived it, I told myself I will pay it forward, and give help to those who would need it too.

4. Relax into your life, even though it will never be perfect. I am self-aware enough to know that I don’t love my current job, I am not capable of jetting to Europe on a whim, and I will probably never have rock-hard abs. The next step after knowledge is acceptance. But I do think there is a fine line between relaxing into your life and being lazy. And that line is made up of goals, and a good sliver of hope that although you are happy with your life now, with the right push it can still go uphill from there.

5. Anticipate the future with excitement. Like any kid, my birthday is always the best day of the year in my little world. I always look forward to it gnawing at my stubby nails in anticipation of the cake and frosting , ready to count the number of gifts and greetings. About the time I crossed the big 2-5 I started telling myself that birthdays are just sucky age counters, validating that new frown line I’m pretty sure I’m not imagining. But now I palm my face and argue, “why would you do that to yourself, dummy?” As adults, we grow into responsibilities, get handed “real world” problems, receive more bullshit than our moral center can manage — essentially getting a pair of big, ill-fitting shoes. That doesn’t mean birthdays aren’t still wonderful future things to look forward to, much like a wedding, or a long delayed dinner with a good friend, or pay day, or finally having time to read Casual Vacancy. We never know what will happen tomorrow, so why not paint it red with stars and little ribbons and be excited with the prospects?

Since I am putting in my two cents, I figured I’d add to the list:

6. Go to your happy place. We all have one or two, and it’s not necessarily a place. It can be an object or even a person. When I sink into my emotional funk I like to pull out a favorite prayer, or contact a friend who would relate and not judge. Bonus points if he/she can get me laughing at my own shit holes. I pick up a good book, gorge on ice cream, drop by church, or put on a favorite song, like a classic from the Killers below. To each his own. The end goal really is to unload, regroup, then smile and mean it. Emotional spunk, conquered.

Sources: Yahoo! SHE, Youtube, photo credits to owner.

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