We can’t control the weather we wake up to, what color hair we’re born with, how much our rent goes up each year, or how loud the neighbor plays his music at night. But, we can control how we react to the weather, we can dye our hair, we can move to find cheaper rent, and we can put in ear plugs or kindly ask the neighbor to turn it down.
Essentially, there are a lot of things that are not in our control (it basically boils down to Mother Nature and other people), but there are many, many things we can control — it’s just a matter of perspective. It’s funny to think about how similar situations cause us to act differently, and I’m not quite sure how to pinpoint the reason why.
Example: last week, I walked out of my apartment to a rainy, muggy day. I had a headache, and had overslept a little. I was annoyed that I hadn’t slept well, and that it was still warm for September. I got to work, in a mad mood before the day had even started, annoyed with everyone and everything. But today, I woke up fully rested, still high off a great 10k run and great fall food cooking from this weekend, and feeling good about Monday. I knew it was going to be a busy week, and knew it was chilly out, but I threw on my tights, skirt, and cardigan, and set out for work, listening to an NPR podcast on my phone and ready to see what the day would offer. I topped it off with a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and settled into my day. Even though I left the office an hour or more later than usual, and I was feeling the to-do list creep, I still came home feeling good overall.
Why? I’m still not sure. But I do know that context has a lot to do with it (my good feelings from the weekend carried me over), and that I felt in control of myself and my attitude today.
It doesn’t mean that tomorrow I’ll wake up and feel chipper and solid throughout the day again, but it does mean that it is completely up to me to make it so — or not. There were one or two things on my mind today that were weighing me down, but I’m choosing to not let it control my overall my mood. In reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I’m realizing that I’m not the only one that has to sometimes make a conscious effort to be positive, to not let the little things get to me. Sometimes, I just want to be mad. I want to be down, left alone, moody. My mind screams, THIS ANNOYS ME AND I’M JUST GOING TO BE THAT WAY. But then I remind myself that I can’t always do that — not at work, not out with friends, and not if I want people to hang out with me. So we all have those moments, those days, maybe even those weeks. Go away, we say to everyone. I’m in a mood, we tell ourselves, our coworkers, our friends.
And then we realize, in a moment of laughter, in an unexpected moment of silliness, of joy, that we’re really not mad at anyone after all. Raise your hand if you’ve tried to stay mad at someone and it’s impossible because you realize they’re just too awesome and you’re being too stubborn? (Me) It’s completely up to you. You can let the rain and the heat and the cold bother you, or you can put on a sweater, or pull out an umbrella. You can let people on Twitter saying dumb stuff annoy you, or you can temporarily unfollow them. You can sit around waiting for a guy to call you or care about you, or you can move on to someone who is available for you, right now. You can be pissed that you’re not losing weight or that you aren’t eating healthy enough, or you can get off your butt and make a concrete change that proves it’s worth your time and energy.
It’s completely up to you what you do, and how you react. So what’s your plan?