Friday, February 8, 2013

The winter of my discontent

It's been a rough few weeks. Nothing monumentally bad has happened, really. Yet there have been hours spent first asking, then whining, then fighting with insurance company representatives (Highmark, this means you. Quit running all those @!?*&# cutesie televisions ads with blue hands, and use my premiums to actually cover me for a change, you schmucks). There have been winter storms and scary, slush-covered roads to screw up plans. There have been more phone calls and visits to downtown, to try to wade through the unbelievably archaic, poorly organized property tax assessment system. We're smack-dab in the middle of the ugliest time of year, and I can't find a green leaf to save my life. Everyone is sick of being inside at my house (well, not so much my son, who loves inside especially when it's filled with Legos that stab my feet and clog the sweeper...) And the headlines? The country? The world? Bad. Bad. Bad. Long story short, I've been stumbling a bit. I don't think it's only me; it seems the whole world is feeling rather testy with itself and everything around it.

It's quite defeating, when efforts go unrewarded, when what should stand instead must be delayed, or changed a bit, or altered dramatically to meet ever-crumbling circumstances. Expectations? It seems, some days, as if they can't be set low enough.

I was really hitting a wall today. Gray day, gray mood. Dim light, more dim thoughts. Bleak bleak bleak. So I took a hot shower, preparing to pity myself. A funny thing happened, though: I started to cheer up. I just couldn't sustain the bleakness, and I ended up thinking about other things. I decided I'd make some fresh coffee when I finished showering, and from that point on, I just kept moving farther from the bleakness. It was a relief, stepping out of that tedious, exhausting landscape of grim self-absorption.

Speaking of books, someone gave me a great one (thanks, Cari!) and I'm re-reading it already. (I'm never able to fully absorb a book the first time through.) The author's gist seems to be that we must deliberately, daily pursue a thankful attitude toward God and everything He's created, and that this thanks is manifested in blessings—not lottery blessings, but a blessedly new perspective that allows us to see God more fully, to see everything in light cast by Him. The author really struggles some days to embrace this way of thinking; it's not an easy, automatic thing for her in any way, at least not at first, and it's especially challenging for her in the midst of trials.

But it's got me thinking that if we must strive to make deliberate choices to be thankful (and I believe we do), then perhaps we must also be equally, stubbornly determined about the other end of the spectrum... Meaning, to my twisted thinking, that the opposite, ungrateful, cheerless end of the spectrum is just as difficult to maintain. Right? Wouldn't that be illustrated by my easily distracted, cheerier shower-and-coffee self? It's hard work to be happy—and it's also hard work to remain miserable. Yes?

Does that theory hold water at all? I'm hoping it does, because I've been hanging out on the dark end of the gratitude rainbow for too long, and I am hoping that this break in my personal barometer is going to stick around; I simply don't have the energy to stay irritable and/or furious with everyone any longer—not even those &*#@?!! decision-makers at Highmark.

(Well, I might need to keep working on that. I just checked, and I still have some energy for Highmark...)


Facie said...

To paraphrase a quote from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books: "If something bad has happened, you can choose to be happy or choose to be mad. Either way, the bad thing still happened." I don't always have this attitude, but it has helped me be more positive than I might otherwise.

I also started a "Good stuff" box in which most days I place on a piece of paper something good that happened or something I am thankful for. I put in things like "Donut Sunday" at church or no major issues at recess. I had a rather heart-breaking (to me) thing happen on Friday, but I am going to put down all the other good things that happened then and over the weekend.

Hang in there!

chris h. said...

Just last night, or maybe the night before, as I lay in bed after another so-so day, I forced myself to think of 5 good things that had happened. I thought of 3 right off, and kind of fudged the last 2, but at least I did it. I, too, need to get better at being positive and thankful and grateful!

Mel said...

the book is called "One Thousand Gifts" and I recommend it. IT is a gift, literally and figuratively. it does take effort to be thankful--but it's an investment of sorts. and yep, facie, we just have to focus on the good b/c there will always be bad.