"I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances."
One thing that I keep coming back to when I am having a particularly rough day is the quote above. Mrs. Washington was indeed correct. It doesn't matter if it is raining or sunny out, if you are sore and tired or pain free and full of energy, whether you are living paycheck to paycheck or have a big fat cushion in the bank, if you are happily single or miserably married or vice versa. None of those things will make us happy or miserable. It is only our attitude and outlook toward our lives that will determine how we feel about our lives.
Misery is not a place that I want to be. For me, when I am miserable, the smallest thing can bring me stress. Stress leads to headaches, TMJ issues, lost sleep and has even brought on flares and depression. Knowing myself as I do, I could sit and make a list of all of the not-so-wonderful things in my life. I could start big and keep going until I pick apart every single thing and I am so down that crawling back up would be a monumental task. When I get in a mood like that everything and everyone annoys me. I get snappy and cranky and I am not a nice person to be around. I am sure I drive my poor husband crazy. I know I drive myself crazy when I get into one of these moods. I do not like wallowing in self pity, I do not like having others feel sorry for me, I do not like it when I get to the point that I just want to scream or cry.
In order to turn that around and get myself out of that place, I have created a "challenge" for myself. When I find myself creeping toward the rotten attitude I make myself take whatever it may be that is bothering me and turn it around into something for which to be grateful. Finding something good, finding that silver lining, can be extremely challenging especially when you are already in a mood. If you can do it though not only does it take your mind off of your troubles it also stops the snowball effect of the bad mood and brings you back to a place of gratitude. If you are successful in completing this exercise when you get back to that place of gratitude, you find that a sense of peace has stolen over you and the doldrums have fallen by the wayside.
One example of this challenge would be looking at my coming day. We are on vacation, we have planned on driving to Elizabethtown and Bardstown, KY to tour the Bourbon Trail. We will be touring Jim Beam Distillary, Maker's Mark Distillary, Heaven Hill and a couple others while we learn about the history of bourbon, prohibition in the US, how bourbons are made and aged and what makes each of them unique. Each of the distillaries has tasting rooms and other things to do. As they say- Bardstown and E-town are to Bourbon as Napa Valley is to Wine. We have been looking forward to this for quite some time.
And then I woke up this morning- at 2am not feeling well- and it's raining. The rain means that driving will be miserable and it's going to be all of 43 degrees today (our average temps this time of year is 70's) which means that both my RA and my Fibro are in full effect. Oh and even though I have not had my quarterly alcoholic beverage in anticipation of this trip-I have my every 6 week rheumy appointment is tomorrow and we are doing extra bloodwork because my liver levels are elevated so I can not chance the tasting rooms. Now- I could keep this attitude going all day and let it ruin this trip. I could sulk and complain and bring Jim and Karyn down with me. OR- I could take these things and turn them around. Let's take a look at that:
And then I woke up this morning at 2am, not feeling well but my stomach ache has subsided and I am just left with a big headache. Getting up this early gives me extra time to loosen up my joints and stretch my muscles before we leave and I can sleep in the car and it's raining. The rain means that driving will be miserable but unlike several other areas of the country it is NOT snowing here and I have gloves and jackets to keep me warm. I can also take along some hot hands in case I need them and best of all I AM NOT DRIVING! . and it's going to be all of 43 degrees today (our average temps this time of year is 70's) which means that both my RA and my Fibro are in full effect though I do have a lot of aches and pains today courtesy of the weather- I have not had a full blown flare in quite a while (knock wood) and I doubt this will trigger it. Oh and though I have not had my quarterly alcoholic beverage in anticipation of this trip I have my every 6 week rheumy appointment is tomorrow and we are doing extra bloodwork because my liver levels are elevated so I can not chance the tasting rooms but it does mean that I can take notes and prepare for the next time we are down there and study up to see if I can discern all the notes that they talk about today. Best of all- WE ARE ON VACATION! Even Jim has a day off with pay. We can enjoy one another's company and do this trip and just have fun.
In addition to flipping those "bad" things around I can be so grateful to have this day off with my dear friend and my husband. I can be grateful that we still have 2.5 days together before she flies back home. I can be grateful that my honey likes to drive and therefore I can snooze at will. I can be grateful that both my husband and my friend understand that I deal with physical challenges and if I don't feel up to going in to one of the places today- they will go ahead without me and let me stay in the car and rest. I can be grateful that even after I get back to work on Monday- I have about 4 weeks until my next-total relaxation- vacation. I can be grateful that I get to see my parents this weekend and enjoy time with them before heading back to work.
And just like that the tension is gone and my mood is better. The headache is still there but that is induced by lack of sleep and it will go away once I have some breakfast and a bit of a nap. I do have so much to be grateful for- so much so that it outweighs the things that made me wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. That in itself is a good thing.
"If you look at what you have in life,
You'll always have more.
If you look at what you don't have in life,
You'll never have enough."