Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"I don’t know why, but I'm just grumpy."

Recently, I visited Florida to see my family, and I had the amazing opportunity to surround myself with my two incredible nieces. During one of the days I was visiting, my youngest niece, who is two, hit a bump in the road—it seemed miniscule to me, but it was HUGE to her.

She’s a big girl, and got over it after crying it out for a few minutes. But, later on (maybe about half an hour later), she frowned at me, and said words that spoke to my soul.

“I’m grumpy. I don’t know why, but I'm just grumpy.”

Sandra Boynton gets it (excerpt from her book "Happy Hippo, Angry Duck"), and I get it. 
This week, I feel myself identifying with that statement more than any time in recent history. It’s been a difficult week. There’s really no way around that fact.

Honestly, today has been what I would call a bad day. In the midst of this “bad day,” it seemed that there was bad news everywhere I turned. Around me, people were sick, angry, stressed, overwhelmed, and the works.

I felt the same—spread too thin, with very little control over the situations at hand.

Needing a break, I set out for lunch with the company of my dog, in the security and sanctuary of my own home. Despite my best efforts—and the help of a coffee and protein shake—I couldn’t shake my mood.

The day, it seemed, was wrecked. Finally convincing myself that I would get through all of the different situations life was throwing at me, I got back into my car to finish my day.

“There are never enough hours in the day,” I said, letting out a sigh as I drove down the street.

Sitting at a stoplight, I got probably the only message I needed to turn my grumpy mood into one of humility. Awakening to the reality that it’s not a “bad day,” I glanced to the right and watched a family, all clad in black, walking toward the funeral home.

That’s when it hit me:  there are never enough hours in this life, so we had better make each one count.

In an instant, I was reminded that days aren’t really “bad;” they’re simply a chance for us to turn things around, to grow and to learn, and to move forward.

More than that, though, each day is something we’re given—a chance to make connections with other people, to create something lasting, to take part in the things that make us come alive, to give, to laugh, and importantly to live in the moment.

Yes, sometimes, the moments are unpleasant, but pleasant things also exist in those moments.

As if on cue, shortly after I experienced all of this, I got an email from my sister, containing a video of my youngest niece (who clearly beat her case of the grumpiness long before I did) laughing with reckless abandon.

And, just like that, I was reminded that our moments are fleeting, and we have the power to choose whether we look for the pleasant parts or focus on the not-so-pleasant, stressful, angry parts of the day.

After all, the stress will still be there another time, as will the opportunity to get sucked into the senseless grumpiness. The opportunity to be present in the moment, looking for the joys of life is something we’re not promised. We’re not promised tomorrow, so, instead of settling for a “bad day,” we should celebrate those pleasant gems planted in the midst of the difficult days and weeks.

In case you need a little help finding those bright spots, just like I did, here’s a sneak peek at the simple beauty that exists in today:

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