Being happy all the time isn’t human

I’ve been a bit grumpy in the last 2 weeks, despite the experiment. Mostly for legitimate reasons, and rarely for longer than a few minutes. I’ve put £4 in the donation box so far. But I don’t see it as a failure, because I’m learning from the experiment, and trying to come up with constructive ways to deal with grumpiness.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling exceptionally grumpy. I was tired, my legs hurt, my shoulders hurt, I’d been hit in the face playing korfball the previous night and had a swollen nose, I’d been suffering from a batch of nightmares and hadn’t been sleeping well, I had a ton of work to do, and it was raining. As I drank my coffee and tried to wake up, I messaged a friend. The conversation went more or less like this:

“I’m grumpy. I’m tired, my legs hurt, (etc. etc.)”

“I thought you weren’t allowed to be grumpy?”

“I’m not. So shoot me.”

“LOL. You really ARE grumpy, aren’t you?”

And the funny thing was that that was enough to make me giggle, and within a couple of minutes of chat, I felt better. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

At lunchtime in the gym that day, I started thinking more about the whole grumpiness project. Despite my lapses, I’ve tried really hard to stay cheerful, but more importantly, every time I’ve not been cheerful, I’ve tried to do something about it, whether it’s a session in the gym, a break from work, putting on some relaxing music, a chat with a friend, or just giving myself a good talking-to. And it’s always worked.

I also started thinking about the reasons I’ve been grumpy so far in the last 2 weeks. I can categorise them into 5 main types:

– computer problems leaving me stressed and frustrated

– dealing with stupid people

– feeling upset because of the actions of others

– frustration with myself at the way I’ve acted

– feeling ill or in pain

The first one was actually easy to deal with. Take a break, then think about the problem rationally and come up with a solution (which might just be finding the right person to ask for help)

The second one was also quite easy. Stop worrying so much, and don’t sink to the level of the people who are annoying you. Leave them alone and don’t waste your time. Arguing with people who can’t be rational, can’t debate something without getting annoyed, or who can’t form coherent arguments just isn’t worthwhile.

The third and fourth ones are quite similar, and I find the hardest to deal with. I worry about what people think of me, why they’re acting the way they are, and always assume it’s about me. Most of the time, it isn’t. Similarly I get annoyed with myself a lot. The good thing about this is that I can usually recognise I’m being irrational or getting bothered about something that really isn’t important. Again, talking it through with someone really helps here. If you can say “I know I’m blowing this out of proportion, but I’m upset by it because…” then you’re halfway to resolving it. Failing that, focusing on something completely different mentally and/or physically never fails.

The fifth one can be a real problem. When things go wrong physically, it can play havoc with your emotions. Getting injured or ill and not being able to do the things you want to do, which ironically are also the things that make you feel happier, is difficult to snap yourself out of. My best cure for this is again to have stern words with myself about the fact that it’s not the end of the world, and to focus on someone who’s worse off than I am. Or thinking about all the things I still can do. When I get annoyed with myself playing sport because my lack of sight limits my ability to play well, I remind myself that I’m lucky I can still play so many of the sports I love, even if not as well as I used to be able to. When my dad lost both his legs, I got him to make a list of all the things he would still be able to do, and another list of all the things he wouldn’t be able to do any longer. He took to it immediately and surprised himself at how long the first list was and how short the second list was. My favourite comment of his when making the list was: “I can’t go skiing any more. But on the plus side, I’ve never been skiing and I’ve never wanted to.” And it turns out you can still go skiing with no legs anyway.

It’s hard to be grumpy about your life when you see people skiing with no legs.

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