|Made by Erin Cooper of www.pippinandpearl.com|
|Jaime and Jessica, the newest NC State Graduate!|
After a wonderful weekend down in Raleigh, North Carolina watching my mentee graduate from college (woot!) and catching up with a friend, I drove home on Sunday morning. When I got into DC, the weather was gorgeous — 82 degrees and beautifully sunny.
Choose: Do you scrap your plans to work inside on your computer and go for a run?
I chose to go for a run. Got together my running gear, which hasn’t been used in a while, sadly, and headed out the door. I walked and ran another 10k, but when I finished, I was still a mile and a half from home.
Choose: Do you take the bus home or use the extra mileage to walk out your sore muscles?
I chose to walk home, even though the rain clouds were getting more and more ominous by the second.
Choose: Now you are back at the house and sweaty. Do you take a shower or do messy chores first?
I chose to take out the trash and change the kitty litter before cleaning up. And here is where the story gets adventurous. The sky opened up just as I was getting my recycling into the cans outside. I was quickly soaked, so I just continued to put out the trash. Then I notice that the water outside isn’t draining, but is instead fountaining down the basement steps into the well of the basement, and INTO MY APARTMENT.
Choose: Do you freak out and get angry that the basement is flooding or do you try to mitigate the damage?
|Rainwater pooling into basement well.|
I ran back into the house and threw down towels to try to stem the tide of water. I grabbed my wet vac, plugged it in and was able to contain the water to the back hallway of my house, so nothing other than the floor got wet & waterlogged. The rain stopped just minutes after it had begun and I continued to vacuum up water until the vacuum stopped working.
Choose: Do you angrily pout or do you continue to try to solve the problem?
I am not going to lie, things got tense at this stage of the game. After trying a few quick fixes for the vacuum, I determined that either the filter needed to be replaced or the vacuum was dead & I needed a new one. I checked that home depot was still open and ran down there.
Choose: Do you buy just the filter or do you buy a new vacuum?
|Obviously, I need a little more skill on creating sandbag
barriers, as this didn’t work at all.
I chose to do both. I knew if the filter worked, I could return the vacuum, but if it didn’t work and I didn’t have another vacuum, I would be furious and home depot would be closed, so I wouldn’t be able to do anything else until the next morning. When I returned to the house, the filter replacement worked, and I was able to get all the excess water and clean up outside. I then bleach-mopped the floors where the water spilled in, returned everything to it’s rightful place and started washing the soaked towels.
Choose: Do you spend the rest of the evening angry that your evening was derailed by this emergency or are you grateful it wasn’t worse?
After a shower, I felt so LUCKY. On the weekends, I am frequently out of town, so I can only imagine what would have happened if I weren’t home when the flooding started. Even better, I was *outside* and saw the flooding before it even reached my back door, so I was able to mitigate & slightly control what got flooded in the apartment. I was grateful that Home Depot was still open in my neighborhood at 7pm on a Sunday evening, so I could get the replacement parts I needed to continue repairing the problem. I was grateful that this happened on Sunday, before a week of rainy weather predicted for DC, so I could call my landlords and have them snake the outdoor drains before more rain comes.
Yes, it was annoying that my apartment flooded, but so many things went RIGHT about the flooding, that it was the best possible way to have a bad situation like that happen. I went to bed last night satisfied, remembering that my weekend was almost all great stuff, and slept well. What would you have done — go to bed angry or go to bed happy?
Matt and I have said over and over again how important it is to CHOOSE your attitude, to ACT instead of REACT, and to limit your negativity about a situation. Think about the last emergency you had to deal with — could you have made different choices?
|Photo by David Laporte|
Over the last two weeks, several people who know me “in real life” who read this blog asked me some version of this question, “Are you always happy and positive?” They read my posts and facebook updates, watch me interact with others in real life and can’t believe that I can keep up the “happy” front all day every day.
And the truth is, I can’t. I get mad when someone cuts me off in traffic. I get irritated with the check-out lady who is scanning my purchases painfully slowly. I pop off with a snarky, undeserved comment when I am tired. I get sad and disappointed when things don’t go my way. I am human.
The difference is that I work *hard* to limit the negativity in my life — from both myself and others. I know that I get more accomplished when I am in a high positive energy state, so I try to stay there as much as possible.
I choose to be happy.
When someone cuts me off in traffic, I get the same flash of anger that you do. Then I try to dismiss that feeling as quickly as possible. Sometimes it’s as easy as thinking of something else. Sometimes it’s reminding myself that the extra two seconds I’ll spend in traffic because I had to brake unnecessarily won’t truly have an impact on my day and schedule. Sometimes it’s commiserating with the other driver who may be late for an appointment and need to get where they are going faster than I do. I choose to be happy.
Last week, I was really disappointed by a comment someone made to me (it wasn’t you, promise!). I couldn’t just pick up and move on. So, I set a time limit on my disappointment — I had an hour to wallow in my negative feelings. At the end of the hour, I let the entire incident go. Any more negativity about the situation wouldn’t help me feel better, so I needed to stop being negative. I chose to be happy.
This past weekend, I visited my Grandfather for what is likely the last time I’ll see him alive — he is on the end of a long road of illness. When I left his house on Sunday, I cried myself all the way home. I woke up Monday feeling so sad — totally normal when someone you love is dying. That evening, I had a coaching client call to take, and I wondered how I would have the energy and enthusiasm to encourage my client.
Before I took the call, I walked around my neighborhood outside in the sunshine and reminded myself how incredibly lucky I was to get to go home and see my Grandpa again. I recalled how amazing it was that Grandpa really woke up on Sunday evening right before I left the house and had a full conversation with us all just like old times — demanding we make him popcorn and commenting on the news playing on television. I went into my coaching call with a attitude of peaceful calm and had a great session. I chose to be happy.
When I was 19 (about three years ago! , I participated in my university’s Alternative Spring Break. During one of our training sessions, our group leader shared the following parable with us that I have never forgotten:
I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the news stand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn’t even acknowledge him.
“A sullen fellow, isn’t he?,” I asked.
“Oh, he’s that way every night,” shrugged my friend.
“Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?,” I asked.
“Why not?,” inquired my friend. “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?”
As I thought about this incident later, it occurred to me that the important word was “act.” My friend acts towards people; most of us *react* towards them.
He has a sense of inner balance which is lacking in most of us – he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his own conduct.
Nobody is unhappier than the perpetual reactor. His center of emotional gravity is not rooted within himself, where it belongs, but in the world outside him.
His emotional temperature is always being raised or lowered by the social climate around him and he is a mere creature at the mercy of those elements.
Praises give him a feeling of euphoria, which is false, because it does not last and it does not come from self approval. Criticism depresses him more than it should, because it confirms his own secretly shaky opinion of himself. Snubs hurt him, and the merest suspicion of unpopularity in any quarter rouses him to bitterness.
Serenity cannot be achieved until we become masters of our own action and attitudes. To let another determine whether we shall be rude or gracious, elated or depressed, is to relinquish control over our own personalities, which is ultimately all we possess. The only true possession is self-possession.
How often to you react? How would your own life be improved if you chose to act, if you chose to be happy, regardless of your circumstances?