I’m not usually one to dispense unsolicited advice.
I mean, if I run into you at the grocery store, and you ask me a question about pea pods, I’ll be happy to answer, and in great detail. But if I run into you, and I notice you’re admiring said pea pods, I’m unlikely to wax philosophical about the health benefits of green vegetables without being prompted. It’s just not how I operate.
But there are a few philosophies that I choose to live by–words that become my mantras when I’m feeling blue, or having a bad day. And I find, by living my life according to these philosophies, I am a happier person.
So, I’m going against the grain and sharing them with you here today, in the hopes that if nothing else, you might learn a little bit more about what makes me tick.
(Don’t worry, none of them have to do with pea pods.)
Save the Drama Fo’ Yo’ Mama
Over the years, I have learned that life, all by its little self, is stressful enough without putting myself in situations or relationships that stress me out. If I don’t want to go to a baby shower because I know it will make me sad, I don’t go. If I don’t feel like hanging out with a particular person because all they do is complain about the price of milk, I don’t hang out with that person. If I don’t want to answer a phone call because I’m in the middle of watching the newest episode of Downton Abbey, (OMG THE FEELS…) I’m going to let it go to voice mail.
Here’s the thing: there are going to be stresses in my everyday life that I can’t change. Work stress. Money stress. Family stress. Stress about trying to adopt, and trying to get published, and saving to buy a house. These are all a part of that little thing we call life.
But stress caused by a social media acquaintance that annoys the whiz out of me? I don’t need it, and I can control it. I just delete them from Facebook, avoid social situations that I know will put me face to face with them, and move on with my life.
It’s not always easy to cut those strings, especially if you’ve been tethered to that stressful person/situation for a long time. But when you’re spending your time worrying about it, trying to solve it, or avoiding it to save your own skin—just grab those scissors and *snip snip,* baby. I’m TELLING you, your life will be better for it. I’ve experienced it first hand.
Turn Down The Noise
I’ve told you about this philosophy of mine before, and I quote it often and loudly. Because it really is the best advice I ever received. It also goes hand-in-hand with removing drama from your life.
When I was a shiny new bride, my father-in-law told me once that when life gets complicated, or scary, or too much to handle, to circle the wagons and focus on the most important thing. “Don’t be afraid to turn down life’s noise and focus on each other,” he said. And while it isn’t the most profound notion in the world, it has easily become the bedrock of my marriage.
But I’ve also learned this past year that this philosophy has a little room to breathe and grow. When life gets hard, and I need an emotional compass, Brian is the one I turn to. And he reminds me that sometimes I need to turn down the noise and refocus on what makes me happy. It’s thanks to him, and that support, that has brought me back to blogging and writing my second novel. And for that, I owe him the world.
Every Day Should Start With A Little Music
I’m not 100% sure when it happened, but it occurred to me awhile ago that I was always waking up with the grumpies. By the time I hit the showers, I was already thinking about all the things I dreaded about the day, and all the things in my life that try to make me unhappy. I would stand under the spray, lamenting about my job, my lack of success in the publishing industry, or even just the fact that it was Tuesday, and whatever potential I had for a good mood would wash down the drain with the soap suds.
I found a very simple solution for that problem, ladies and gents. My alarm clock goes off, I hop out of bed, immediately turn on my phone, and let the 80s Pop Station on Pandora whisk me away.
Before the grumpies have a chance to attack, I’m dancing in the shower to a little WHAM!, and my day is off to a colorful start.
Now, I can’t guarantee this will work if you tend to love sad music, or heavy music. I’ll be a pop princess till the day I die, but it’s the music I love that makes me happy, and makes me dance, that puts me in a good mood every day. I’m guessing that if you listen to the music you love, it might just work the same for you. Try it, and let me know how it goes.
“Be A Rainbow In Someone Else’s Cloud.”
I can’t take credit for that quote–it’s Maya Angelou’s. She’s much wiser than I am, and I’m okay with that. Her words are some that I live by.
I like to spread cheer. I’m like Buddy the Elf, except all year long, and I don’t necessarily always sing it loud for all to hear. (If you are not a fan of the movie, “Elf,” then you will not understand this reference. All I can do is beg you to see the movie and then come back later.) I will, however, try to be a bright spot in your day. I might send you a chipper private message to tell you hello, or share a funny article I read that made me think of you. I might offer to do you a favor, or do you one anyway without asking first.
Now, listen. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or say that I’m the world’s best friend. I’m not. My point is this: even on my grayest days, I find that making one of my friends smile gives me a small bit of color back. Helping my Dad in the kitchen, or picking up Brian’s socks without complaining, or sending my best friend a silly card–I do these things for them, but I do it for me, too. Making them smile makes me smile. So this whole “rainbow” gig works both ways. Ya dig?
Be You. No Matter What That Means.
I’m a bonafide nerd. I geek out over everything from my favorite celebrities to video games and everything in between. I will quote Star Trek quicker than you can say “Beam me up, Scotty!’ Then, when you say that, I’ll gently pat you on the shoulder and tell you that Scotty never actually used that phrase–not once–in the original television series.
Fifteen years ago, if you’d told me that I’d be waving my nerd flag proudly at the largest comic book convention in the country, I’d have laughed in your face. It was more important to me to fit in with the “in” crowd. Whatever that means.
But I figured it out several years ago–I’m a grown ass adult who likes certain things that most other people my age aren’t into. I have a Doctor Who mini-fig collection that will rival your child’s entire Lego obsession. I follow superstitions to a tee when it comes to football, and will paint my face and wear the same shirt every single weekend in the season if it means my team keeps winning. I will sing show tunes at the top of my lungs, and even provide you with some jazz hands, if the mood so strikes me. And I will inevitably pick you up in my car at some point, and will have to apologize that the speakers were so loud, the lyrics from that New Kids on the Block song will be ringing in your ears till Easter.
But I won’t apologize about my music choices, or my nerdy t-shirts, or my penchant for correcting your grammar. Because why? Because all of those things make me who I am, that’s why.
And in my opinion, that’s a glorious thing.
So, readers, those are my philosophies on life. I try to live according to them, and most days, I’m successful. I’m not saying that these words of wisdom always work; I’m not Mary Poppins, and every day of my life isn’t supercalifragilisticespialidocius. But when I put these philosophies to work for me, and remember that life is too short to spend it being angry, or sad, or bitter, then I get a little bit closer to being happy every single day.
And isn’t that what life is all about, anyway?