In an effort to not completely transform into a crotchety old bastard before my AARP card arrives in the mail, I am forever trying to find ways to reframe my perspective and turn what I see as scheisse into something resembling gold. Mental alchemy, you could call it.
I don't know if some of us are simply born crabby or if that transformation occurs over a length of time, but I can say for certain I've felt pretty cranky pretty often, for what feels like a pretty long time.
And that simply won't do, so I've taken up testing a variety of happiness exercises:
First off, I regularly deep breathe during annoying phone calls -- even if that means an uncomfortable silence on the other end while the person decides whether I'm about to pass out or ask them what they're wearing.
I also like to do deep backbends and forward bends in order to change my chi, no matter how short my dress is or how many people are in that conference room.
And, I have a picture of Clint Eastwood smiling at me all day long at work -- as if he is my husband who happens to be worried I'd forget him and has therefore scrawled his name across the photo. (Hi, sweetums!)
For nearly two months now, regardless of what I'm in the middle of, at 3 p.m. promptly each day, I think of and write down three things that I am thankful for. Beer, sunshine and my friends make regular appearances. So, clearly I should live and work on a rooftop with a 5 Barrel in my hand, surrounded by my favorite peeps.
Sadly, there are things constantly getting in the way of realizing this dream -- things such as jobs and the natural limits of one's liver.
The most recent effort at chilling out was fostered by a Ted Talk I'd listened to, given by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, on how the easiest way to up your natural oxytocin levels is by hugging people eight times a day.
This has proven difficult for a variety of reasons. Primarily because I live alone and hugging folks at work after they ask for a TPS report might land me in H.R.
Worse: even with three beers in my system on the first day of this new hot plan, I only managed two hugs before needing to get away. I've maybe given four hugs in the past week.
I'm just not a huggy person.
That revelation caused to me wonder if perhaps this was the very root of the problem: I'm cranky *because* I'm not huggy.
I want to be patient, and kind, and laughing, and glad, and sparkly all the dang time like the stinkin' fairy godmothers in Disney movies.
Then again, people who act like that in real life are often on a lot of medication. Plus, maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Maybe I'm just cranky today because somebody took the red Swingline off my desk and telling myself I need to work harder on the Buddhist principle of non-attachment isn't gonna bring that stapler back.
On the other hand, I'm always trying to reframe small perspectives when maybe surveying the bigger picture would be smarter.
Maybe wanting to act like a puppy on ecstasy is the wrong goal. Maybe embracing my inner curmudgeon is the quickest path to relief. Of course, embracing is the same as hugging and we both know that's not gonna happen...