Blasting the Blues
By Roald Watterson
I was in a bad mood recently, and it wasn’t easy to pull out of it. I’m not a hugely emotional person; I don’t usually have trouble motivating myself to get moving, but this time I was having a rough go of it. In the midst of this, a friend of a friend won a Mercedes-Benz through some kind of lottery!
First thought: I was happy. So these things do happen to people within my somewhat extended world! Second thought: Where’s my Mercedes-Benz?
I wanted something like that to happen for me. It didn’t need to be a car; I’d be just as grateful to win cruise tickets, a tropical holiday—even free membership to a gym. I began checking my email each morning with a heart full of anticipation, but it seemed that all I ever got was a flood of promos trying to sell me things. Disappointed, I felt that surely I deserved a lot more happiness than what I was currently receiving.
My moment of clarity came as I was listening to a talk given by Joyce Meyer in which she said, “Stop giving everyone else the responsibility of making [you] happy. My life changed dramatically when I stopped giving someone else the responsibility to make me happy, and just decided I’m gonna be happy. I’m going to do things for me that make me happy. Not in an out-of-balance way; I do a lot of things for other people. I love to give; it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to watch for what people need and try to meet those needs. But I found out that I was starting to get bitter and resentful. ‘Well, what about me? What about me? What about me?’ I sang that same old sad song for so long, I bet God was like, ‘Not again! Please, I don’t want to hear it!’ Today we are wiping out all excuses. If something needs to be done for you, and no one else is doing it, then do it yourself.” (Joyce Meyer, How to Take Care of Yourself)
I realized that I had been waiting for someone or some lucky event to come around and fix things for me and make me happy. But I needed to stop making my happiness, my contentment, my level of satisfaction and fulfillment, someone else’s job. The climb out of my slump began pretty much right after this change in my attitude, but it was still a process. Along the way, I found a few other pieces of advice. These ideas helped me, and you may also find them useful when you’re going through something similar:
1. Ask yourself: What can this day teach me? What can I learn right now? Quite often I’ll get absorbed by things I’m looking forward to, and when they don’t come my way as quickly as I’d like, I get impatient. Focusing on the present, absorbing yourself in what you are doing today, can help you ride out those times when it feels like your life is just being spent waiting for the exciting parts to happen. Someone put it like this: “Learn something new every day. If you don’t, that’s a wasted day, and life is too short for a string of wasted days.”
2. Introduce one new thing into your day. It doesn’t have to be big. Try out a new flavor of tea or a new way to fix your morning coffee, mix up your music playlist, subscribe to a new podcast. It’s easy to get into ruts in how you view yourself, in your likes and dislikes, and even what you think you are capable of. I’m like that a lot of the time, but every now and then, I get the urge to do something—anything—new. And I’ll usually surprise myself by finding out that I now have a new favorite thing, or that I might even be good at some oddball skill.
3. Get outside. Exercise. Take care of yourself. That’s no one’s business but your own, and no one is going to make healthy choices for you.
4. Pray for others. Stretch your heart. When I’m thinking and praying for friends and family, I’m not spending that time worrying about myself. The blessings are twofold: I send blessings to others, and I stress less.
5. Be grateful. I work at a desk most days, and on the wall in front of my desk I installed a ledge for pictures and knickknacks. I place there things that are important to me, that fill my heart with warm fuzzy feelings: a picture of my newborn nephew, a family portrait, ticket stubs from a vacation, postcards from friends, small handmade crafts. It has become my “gratitude wall.” Find a way to make being grateful easy, beautiful, and always just in reach.
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