Stop. Breathe. Say ‘Thank you’

Have you ever had that feeling when you’re being a bit too cranky, angry or upset, and you suddenly stop, listen to yourself and think ‘Gosh! What on earth am I complaining about?No? You should.

I am an extremely bubbly person. It’s not something I fake or that comes as an effort to me (as I have been ‘accused’ of more than once). I am naturally that way. I love waking up and I love saying good morning to people; I think ‘Good Morning‘ are my favourite words in the world, and I almost always say it very cheerfully. It’s not an act, it really does come naturally. I am usually just really happy that I get to be here another day.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset, that I don’t get cranky, that I don’t say mean things or have dreadful thoughts from time to time. Sometimes I too wake up a bit drowsy and can be quite cranky (until I get some food). I even snooze now from time to time, something I have never done before, and that gets me even crankier.

So see, I am a human being just like everyone else. I have all those feelings too. I get cranky at the same things everyone else does – commute, delayed trains and airplanes, people going the wrong way on the tube exit, people standing on the left on the escalator, bad service at restaurant or hotel, strikes that ruin my travel plans, someone accusing me or a friend unjustly, bureaucracy, dealing with idiots… the list goes on. But fact is, if you were to ask people who know me how would they describe me in a few words, they’ll probably say things like: good-mood, big smile, upbeat attitude, like a ray of sunshine (not my words, but I proudly accept the description). Quite often people ask me ‘how can you be so cheerful and upbeat all the time?’.

So what is the secret then? Am I just hiding my true feelings? Am I just faking? No.

I don’t like being cranky and upset. If I have to be angry at someone, it’s not pretty, I get quite altered, almost like a Gremlin (exactly like a Gremlin). I do not like it. So what I do is I STOP.

I stop and listen to myself and give myself a proper ‘mental slap’. A ‘wake up’ kind of moment. A moment to realize just how blessed and lucky I am to be here, and that all that stress and crankiness isn’t letting me enjoy it. I stop, take a moment to I think of all the wonderful things I have in my life (love, family, friends, a roof over my head, food…) and how blessed I am to be here another day. I say ‘Thank You’ and move on with my day in a much more cheerful disposition.

I do think sometimes about people who have nothing or have lost everything. I think of countries at war or in extreme poverty. Shrinks my heart. They hang on to a thread of hope and here we just complain. Then I feel ashamed. Ashamed for not fully appreciating how lucky I am.

I was listening to a lecture by Oprah Winfrey at Stanford University, and despite the focus being a bit more religious, I learned a lot of interesting things – one of the things she taught, was precisely this ‘stop’ moment. She didn’t refer to it as the ‘Stop moment’ of course, but it’s still pretty similar. She asked everyone in the auditory to close their eyes and feel their pulse, for three long breaths. The purpose of the exercise was for people to feel their breaths, feel their energy through their pulse, think about that day and how they are able to breathe. How they have been given the ‘privilege to be here’. And whether you are religious or not, whether you believe in some sort of God or not, whether you believe in something transcendent to us, what she is saying is an undeniable fact. We are absolutely privileged to be here. And let’s face it, most of the time we are taking those three breaths for granted, but we all know it won’t last forever. So enjoy your time here, be thankful for the gift you’ve been given, and stop to think about the good things in your life.

She added something that I really liked: “The only prayer that is ever needed is ‘Thank You’”. Now, as I don’t believe in a God of any religion, I don’t really say thank you to anyone in particular. I just have this overall feeling of being thankful for my life and all the good things in it. Maybe I thank the Universe, or Earth, I am not sure yet, but I am thankful.

I am not saying we need to  give up being angry all together – sometimes we’ll still get upset, angry, cranky… and that’s OK and it’s normal. Just don’t let it get too much. If it gets too much, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right and you need to change it.

For instance if every Monday is a ‘cranky’ day for you because you are dreading going back to work, then stop. It’s time to give yourself a mental slap and think ‘is this worth it?’ ‘Is this what I want?’ And if it is, brilliant, that’s your choice, but don’t make yourself miserable about it anymore. Focus on all the good things that made you stay. If it’s not what you want, then slowly or quickly start thinking about other options.

Or if something is making you lose sleep, than maybe it’s gotten too much. I for one didn’t sleep much last night thinking about issues with the new flat. Things that have upset me. Today I chose to STOP. We thought of a few solutions and that’s all I need to think about. Sure there will still be dodgy and disrespectful people to deal with, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let them ruin my bubbliness.

My father used to say something when he got angry at us when we were kids: “I only get angry at you because I care”. The older I get the more I understand the meaning of it. Most things and people are just not worth it. You are better off if you STOP. BREATHE. Think of the wonderful and good things in your life. Say THANK YOU. Move on.

So this morning I STOPPED, thought about the good things in my life, felt thankful to be here and now I am my bubbly self again. Check.

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