Saturday, December 20, 2008


When I re-entered the workforce after 13 years at home raising kids, I was met with a new to me phrase 'to get an attitude with someone'. I had no idea what that meant. Well, I quickly found out that it was a negative thing. You had a verbal confrontation with the clerk at the store and 'she got an attitude with me'. Okay. Everyone has an attitude. But, an attitude does not have to be negative.

In fact, we're here to improve your attitude. Was it Abe Lincoln who said something like 'I think people feel just about as good as they want to'? Something like that. He was onto something. Of course, there are those sad people who have intrinsic depression, overwhelming health or emotional problems, deep financial woes. But, most of us do okay most days. On occasion, we find ourselves sinking into a mildly negative mindset because our lives are not like those we see on TV shows - you know - fancy homes, nice clothes, great cars, kids with neat haircuts, plenty of money, plenty of time to gossip with the neighbors, and no evidence of having to pay bills or go talk to the principal about a recalcitrant 5th grader. Yeah, right. This is not reality - no matter how much they try to sell us on 'Reality Shows'. If you see it on network TV, it ain't real!

We all fall into that pit of judging our insides by other people's outsides. It's a bad plan. But, what do we do about it? We get an attitude adjustment (AA). We strive for an Attitude of Gratitude (AOG). Here's how:

One part of a healthy life is good health. One way to attain or maintain good health is to keep our bodies moving so that our body's natural attitude adjustors (endorphins) can do their jobs. They must be released into our bloodstream to aid us. How does this happen. Well, I'm no scientist, but I can tell you that there are a couple of ways:

Improve your face value with a smile.
Celebrate something - anything.
Laugh, Hug, Touch.
Move your body.

Smiling sounds easy. But, some days we all find it hard. Celebrating is fine if we have something to celebrate. If we celebrate every little thing, then celebrating becomes nothing special. Birthdays come only once a year for a reason. No matter how old I become, I believe I will always look forward to celebrating my birthday - a day just for me - a cake, cards and/or gifts, kind words. It doesn't take much.

Laugh, Hug, Touch. If you live alone, the hugging and touching part become very difficult. After my Dad died, my Mom said the thing she missed most was just being touched. We were never a huggy family, but I began giving my mom a hug every time I see her. Endorphins are released.

Laugh - find something funny on TV, read a column in the paper or a magazine that makes you laugh, call a friend and ask for a joke, keep a joke book on hand and read it. Think back over good times. Take out a photo album of your kids as toddlers, yourself as a teen jock, your wedding, you mom or dad.

Walk. Simple. It releases those endorphins. You get 'high' on life. Nature's 'high'. People pay a lot of money and risk prison to get the kind of high from drugs that you can obtain from walking. Who knew?? Try it, it works.

In addition to all of the above, get a small notebook and write down one or two things each day for which you are grateful. Read it aloud to yourself if there's no one else to share it with. Little things, big things, strange things. Maybe you're grateful that you could get the lid off the vanilla extract today. Maybe you saw a host of butterflies. Maybe those first big snowflakes of the season were beautiful. Maybe the feel of the mist on your face on a bleary day felt fresh. Maybe you're just grateful that you could walk your 10 minutes today. Write it down. When you're feeling low, take out your notebook and remind yourself what you were grateful for yesteday and last week. It'll fill you up.

Then, walk a bit.


Willa said...

I agree with you about the touch thing- that was something I missed dreadfully when my children grew too old for the casual cuddling that happens with little ones.

When I find myself sinking into depression, it helps me to sort of translate the first three of the Buddhist 4 noble truths into these terms:
Life brings pain, but it doesn't have to bring suffering, I cause my own suffering by dwelling on those things I can't change, or craving those things I can't have. If I change the way I think, I can avoid the tragedy and get through the pain. The time is going to pass one way or the other, might as well pass pleasantly as unpleasantly.

jd said...

Willa wrote "I cause my own suffering by dwelling on those things I can't change." So true! I love the Serenity Prayer. I understood it long before I understood anything about God or a Higher Power. You can even leave off the God part. Just say this:
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom is this: I CAN CHANGE MY OWN LIFE. One Step At A Time. So can YOU!