A few months ago, I was going for a walk and having a good think, when I realized that I was stuck in a grumpy rut.
I think it’s possible to go through hard times, and get so in the habit of things being hard, that we keep thinking everything is hard, even when it isn’t anymore.
I think it’s possible for us to get so used to looking for the bad in a situation, that we keep on looking for it in every situation. And as Pollyanna’s father said, “If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it.” I think that goes for situations, too, not just people….
So I walked along, thinking about how attitude is a choice, and I was in the rut of always choosing a grumpy attitude. There were times when I felt quite legitimate about being grumpy.
And there were lots of times when I wasn’t grumpy – it’s not like I was an awful person to be around. I was just very consistently able to find the negative in any situation.
And as I walked along, I realized that I was very tired of that. Maybe there were times when I was legitimately grumpy, but it’s still my life, and I would like to enjoy it a lot more than what I was.
I realize that “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. I knew all the verses about being content in every situation, and rejoicing in the Lord, but I felt like I needed something more.
Is it wrong to feel like I needed more than God’s Word?? Oh dear. But I did. I needed some practical tips. It is very practical to rejoice in the Lord always. But I needed more detail, some step-by-step instructions on how to be happy.
So I ordered Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”. And it exactly hit the spot.
I loved this book. It fit my need for charts and lists and oodles of practical suggestions. Gretchen Rubin wanted more happiness in her life, so she figured out very specific ways of breaking bad habits, and growing positive new ones. She identified the problems, and then figured out how to fix them.
And she wrote over and over again about how happiness is a choice.
I definitely needed the kick in the pants to start making better choices. I needed to realize that the amount of joy in my life is controlled by….me. It doesn’t matter what problems I face, I still get to choose how I will respond to life.
Example: A couple of weeks ago, I was stuck at Superstore at 5:30pm on a Friday. If you ever want the truest, deepest weaknesses of your character to be exposed, go to Superstore at 5:30pm on a Friday.
It was pure madness. I was indescribably frustrated. The lines were longer than I would ever have guessed possible at Superstore, everyone there was grumpy, and the rotisserie chicken I was buying was dripping juice all over my pants.
I was trying to find my way through the crowd to the end of the line, when suddenly, who should appear at my side but my former youth pastor. For a second or two, I was actually tempted to sneak away before he saw me, because I was so grumpy that I did not feel like being social.
In that moment, I had a choice. And I realized that no Superstore line was worth being so grumpy that I couldn’t squeak out a friendly greeting. So I took a deep breath, cleared the impatient expression off my face, and greeted him with the most cheerful voice I could muster up. We battled our way to the back of the line together, and then proceeded to catch up on life for the next 20 minutes.
Those minutes went by in a flash. I’ve never enjoyed myself in a Superstore line as much as I did that day.
Moral of the Story: Sometimes we end up in crumby situations. That’s life. But I believe there is always some goodness to be found. I’m going to start looking for it a whole lot more diligently.