The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Lifted up by thoughts

on August 23, 2013

I mentioned yesterday I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.  I’ve been taking it slow, reading a chapter a day and taking some time to absorb it.  This isn’t the first self-helpish book I’ve read (though this one is definitely less psychological speak and more enjoyable reading) and it won’t be the last.  I’m sure a lot of people think they are cheesy.  Or even more people read them themselves, but are afraid to let others know they are doing so.  I’m not that person.  I let people know and share lessons I’ve learned from them.  And I have to say, over the past month, with some reflection and readings, I’ve learned a lot of lessons.  And the more impressive part, some of the lessons are actually being applied.  Whoa!  Self improvement.  Yay!

I’ll just share a few behavior and thought changes I’ve noticed have occurred in the past week.  I could go on and on, as you know, but I’ll try to keep this short.  We have plenty more sharing to do at a later time, right?

The first observation is on my thought pattern.  Since I was a little one, I’ve been a negative Nelly.  I think the worst is going to happen, that bad things always happen to me, and at times when I’m really down in the dumps, I think that I deserve bad things.  I’m sure there are true psychological reasons why I have this mentality, but that’s not what I want to explore.  I just want to fix it.

A few months ago I got out of a very bad work situation, partly by choice.  Partly by choice is that I initiated the conversation that ultimately led to my dismissal.  I knew that was a possibility and was ok with it, because frankly, the company was doing something borderline illegal and I didn’t want to work with them if they were ok with that.  But nonetheless, having them let me go was a bit of a blow to my self-esteem.  And the kicker is that the Owner of the small business lives just about a block away from me, so I can’t get away.

Earlier this week I was walking my pup by her home and at the same time she came outside her front door.  I tried to ignore her, but she still called out to me.  I just gave a quick wave that was probably more rude than it should have been, and kept walking with my pup.  Negative thoughts filled my head about how horribly they treated me and how I can’t believe they would let me go instead of begging to keep me (I’m an honest, hard worker so any company should want me, right?).  I was just full of bad emotions.  About 3 minutes later I changed my thoughts.  I turned into I can’t be mad at them.  The truth is, I let myself work in those conditions and be treated that way.  I can only learn from my mistakes and never let that happen again.  So I shouldn’t be mad at them, and I’m not mad at myself.  I did what I thought was right at the time, and I now I need to just learn and move on.  And I felt the negativity lift right off of me like a weight off my shoulders.  Thoughts are so powerful – they can weigh you down, or lift you up.  I like to be lifted up.

A similar situation occurred the other night when my normally chipper hubby came home in a bad mood.  My initial thought was my typical one: “I just don’t need this right now.  I don’t want to be dragged down by his bad mood.”  And I don’t mean it in a bad way.  I try so hard to keep a positive outlook all day (which is not my go-to thought pattern) so when my normally happy-go-lucky husband has a bad moment (which he is completely entitled to) gets me down quickly.  We adapt to our partners moods.  If they are sad, we are sad.  If they are happy, we become happier.  It’s part of love.

So I had that initial thought pattern again, but instead of going down in the dumps with him, I resisted.  I just thought about how he deserves to not have to be happy all the time and grieve a bad day.  And how if I get down, it won’t help him at all, but hurt me and him.  So I stayed calm, collected and content.  I didn’t try to cheer him up, but just supported him.  I let him lay on the couch while I made myself dinner and walked the dog.  By the time I got back with the pups, he was feeling better, made himself some food, and we had a normal night.  And I felt a sense of pride.  I let him be, which is what he needed.  He knew I was there if he needed me, but I wasn’t going to drag him down or foolishly try to cheer him up when it was useless at that moment.  It was a real growth moment for me.  Again, all by just changing a few thoughts.

I don’t know if my initial thoughts will change into the “right” thoughts or if I’ll always have to fight of the negative ones before moving on to the best way of thinking and acting.  Maybe it doesn’t matter, as long as I know that the result of being positive and content, being empathetic but not drag myself into others pain, will serve myself and therefore others, much, much better.

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