A Fall From Pollyanna’s Wagon

I’ve been enjoying the benefits of practicing positivity, laughter, and “not taking things personally” a la Byron Katie, but my practice totally went out the window a couple of days ago when I was snowballed by multiple crisis-level events. Okay, so that is a slight exaggeration, but it certainly reminded me of how quickly and easily stress levels can go up and allow negative emotions and reactions to rush in.

In any case, on that day: an annoying computer issue started it off; multiple arguments with my son did not help; watching the UPS truck drive off after trying to deliver my package to the wrong apartment only exacerbated the situation; and to top it off, my bread machine pan failed and leaked the liquid contents into the bottom of the machine and all over my kitchen counter. Oh, and all this *made* me late to Michael’s guitar lesson, so I also lost money on the deal. Ack!

While waiting for Michael to finish his now 15-minute lesson, I pondered how I could have changed my responses and better managed the events of the morning. Certainly it isn’t too much to ask a 15-year-old to perform some basic chores and to expect him to be keeping up with school assignments, right? (That last question is screaming for a “sarcasm font.”) None of these things (and there were actually a couple more that I excluded because I don’t want to be a total bore here) are all that major, really. Inconvenient, yes. But not traumatic. Perhaps it effected me so because they all happened essentially within a few hours. In any case, I forgot and took things very personally indeed. Was I stressing over the idea of not having enough time to do the things on my list, and so the universe responded accordingly, showing me exactly what that looks like? Well done, Universe. Well done.

After doing some quick research for a new bread machine, that evening I left to try to find one locally. I was not really expecting to find the one I wanted, but thought I’d give it a try. Perhaps I really just needed to get out of the apartment for a little bit. Driving down the dark road towards my town’s “Shopping Nirvana” area, I reflected again about my responses and what I could have done differently. I do tend to over-analyze at times, but this time it hit me.

I could have used Laughter Yoga to help me through these experiences like I had with my car! So, cloaked in the safety of a winter night, I thought about the arguments with my son and laughed. I thought about my bread machine and laughed. I thought about the UPS non-delivery and the other issues from the morning and laughed, laughed, laughed. Well. I car-laughed. With my mouth shut. It was pretty dark, but I didn’t want to take any chances. 🙂

Even though I did not find my machine in a store, I did reclaim my positive state of mind, released the negative tension I had created, and scrambled back up on that wagon of positive possibilities. It was, after all, another amazing day. 🙂

When Life Happens, Laugh!

A funny thing happened after Laughter Yoga class yesterday…

Someone backed into my car by accident and put a rather large crack in the bumper. It is difficult for me to remember my first reaction because it wasn’t a traumatic feeling. Of course I wished it hadn’t happened, but it did. So, we had a little laugh about it, discussed insurance, hugged, and went about our respective days. The rest of my day was enjoyable – errand at a local shop, trip to the library to pick up some books, and back home to log back into work before the evening routine of dinner, reading, and bed.

I can’t help but be reminded of the last time something like this happened in my life. About 7 years ago a van backed into my car, leaving a dent in the rear side panel. I witnessed the entire event and after realizing that the man was not going to stop, tried to chase him down, yelling the whole way. Oh! I was so mad! I reported the incident to the police. I fumed about the incident for days and relayed my story to every sympathetic ear who would hear it. And every time I saw the dent, I was reminded of that feeling of anger and helplessness.

Perhaps it helped yesterday’s experience that the person remained on the scene, but I believe it’s much more than that. I still remember my first reaction from that day 7 years ago before the man drove away. And it wasn’t anger; it was fear. But that fear quickly stoked itself into anger and that anger didn’t let up it’s grip on my mood very easily. In sharp contrast, I have no traumatic feelings associated with the accident yesterday. In fact, I completely sympathize with the person who hit me. No fear and no anger. What I remember is a mostly pleasant day with wonderful memories of friends, laughter, discovery, and routine.

So what made the difference? About 5 or 6 years ago, I started on a personal journey to find more happiness within myself, to choose positivity where possible, to flow with life’s changes, and to drop the victim mentality of “things happening TO me. ” It hasn’t always been easy, and I forgot more than I remembered at the beginning, but with practice it became easier. I think all of these things have been instrumental in allowing me to face my daily challenges, big or small, with more patience, compassion, and love. I still forget at times (don’t ask my teen-aged son how patient I am…) but I’m not finished with my practice.

And Laughter Yoga doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

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