Finding Sunshine on A Cloudy Day

Now you’re all humming “My Girl” by The Temptations, aren’t you? That’s just fine… because it’s close enough to what I’m referring to. Today is a beautiful day here but it’s surrounded by lots of rainy days with ground well saturated with melted snow (some places still have several inches, if not feet, of snow that hasn’t yet). So you’ll understand why the idea of finding sunshine on a cloudy day is on my mind.

My Girl - The Temptations

Of course, in the song it’s all about the girl and hey, if that’s your answer – do your thing. 🙂 Read no further. You’re all set. But even for those in love, there are moments when you just need a little help finding the joy in life when it isn’t coming from outside of yourself.

I’m sure a lot of us have noticed how happy people get when the weather changes from overcast and cold to sunny and warm. Happy, friendly, and usually more optimistic. At least, this has been my experience almost everywhere I’ve been. The weather plays a large role in our mood and our outlook on the future. Recognizing this is one element of being able to turn the dial up on your own inner happiness, on your own, when the outside isn’t quite as uplifting.

And, of course, this concept of sunshine and clouds is also a metaphor for broader situations we can get ourselves into. Just the very idea of going to your job away from home, taking care of the kids, etc. can get a person down and out. Some days things are going great, other days something just isn’t connecting or you aren’t feeling appreciated. I’ve had plenty of all of it.

But it’s all the same – it all hinges on being able to recognize the impact that your external surroundings have on your own mood and outlook on life. If someone gives you a hard time, you have a choice to make. You can internalize that moment and feel bad about it and upset and angry about it. You can feel resentful toward that person for your changed mood and lost happiness. You can bemoan the unfairness of it all that you should be one chosen to be the target of this person’s ire (or whatever). And et cetera.

But where does any of that get you? Where has any of that every gotten any of us? Emotions are tied into a complex biochemical and psychological web of influences that are not easy to tease out. Emotions are a part of how you respond to the world. It isn’t really helpful to criticize yourself for your emotions. But it is useful to examine them and to examine your actions in response to them. How do you act based on your emotions?

Here’s an example. My friend Sanjay has just had a going over by his boss for forgetting to turn in a weekly report needed for his boss to be able to write his own report. Sanjay is getting the third degree and afterward he feels pretty bad. He goes to his friend and complains about the whole thing, complaining that his boss is a jerk and he doesn’t deserve to be spoken to in that manner. He complains that he doesn’t make enough money to put up with the nonsense (he probably uses more colorful language). Et cetera.

And I come along and ask Sanjay, in this fictional example, how he’s feeling at that moment. Most people would say something like: “I’m pissed off.” or “I feel like punching him.” or “I just feel like quitting.” Right? Any of this sounding even vaguely familiar? Even if you don’t work in an office – you can extrapolate this to other situations where you have had to knock heads with someone who is a position of power over you (student-professor, other employee-boss, child-parent, adult “child”-parent…)

But you see what I mean about identifying emotions really as the subsequent _actions_. Our fictional dude is probably _feeling_ angry and devalued, and who knows what else based on his own past history – he could be feeling depressed, sad, lonely, unloved, resigned, anxious, fearful, terrified, hopeless et cetera.

My point being – if he could instead focus on the emotions, rather than the actions, then he could see that his response (being upset with the boss’ actions) isn’t really useful _for him_. It only exacerbates what is upsetting him so much.

And so instead of allowing this moment with his boss to turn his day upside down – he could instead chose to use it as an opportunity for self-improvement, for change. He could instead brush it off and find ways of seizing the rest of the day in productive ways – ways that would be positive. He could instead relate in positive ways with those people he knows _do_ appreciate the work he does, rather than in negative ways through a rehashing of the upsetting moment. He could instead find the sunshine in the potential cloudy day.

Now, I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna and suggest that anytime something bad happens or someone does something wrong to you, you should just put on a happy face and brush it off and that’s that. Or even that this is always possible. But the act of trying, of knowing that it is _possible_ will allow you to find those happy moments more often than not. And happy moments usually feed off of each other. Remember how I reminded you that people tend to be happier when the sun is out? Same thing happens when people are around others who are happy. Granted there are some who react negatively to bubbly people, ok… but in general people react positively to happiness around them. Hence, happiness can be a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Your positive attitude can chase someone else’s clouds away.


Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com

Hopefully all this happiness and sunny metaphors hasn’t had you rolling your eyes too much!  Then again, eye exercises are good to relieve the eye strain that might come from reading long posts like this one…  😀

Comments welcome. Stay tuned for a post that will seem like a counter-argument to this but isn’t really. Basically a post on the meaning of happiness, how it manifests and how Western society places value on certain kinds of happiness which may or may not be happiness at all (depending on your own perspective). Not sure when I’ll post that – I have to be in the right mood for it. 😉

Post shout out to @_anawhite because I am in love with her DIY furniture plans.

Gratitude: What Could Have Been

I am not a big fan of blogging about places of employment, past or present – I don’t think it’s a generally good practice for what should be obvious easons.  And I don’t mean this in a proscriptive sense, I mean it in a i-dont-trust-myself-to-not-say-something-stupid sense. 🙂

Having said that, I feel like sharing something I am grateful for.  And it requires posting about a former place of employment.  Someone reading this who knows me really well will know exactly where I mean, but I would thank you to keep that to yourself.  🙂

So, visiting said former place of employment last week was a surreal experience for me. The place I used to work at was not the best fit for me and my skills, hence the “former”.  Leaving there was one of the better things I’ve done in my life and really I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my sister for helping me realize what options I had available to me at the time.

Enviro Chamber

Last week I had the very bizarre opportunity to re-visit that place, not out of choice but by chance. Basically the place I used to work at is an environmental lab and this many years later I had need of their services.  I was there dropping off the samples.  I could have mailed them but that would have delayed the results. And, anyway, I guess a part of me was curious.

Photo credit: sri_grafix from morguefile.com

The building hasn’t changed much from what I could see. Some sprucing up in the entry way but overall, the same layout as when I was there.  What shocked me most though was who greeted me at the desk.  The (second-to) last person I expected to see.  I guess the boss would be the actual last person I’d expect to see (not because he’d have left but because he wouldn’t be at the front desk).

But this person, Former Colleague #1, didn’t appear to have changed one iota. Slightly older, sure, but the exact same mannerisms. And a second person I used to work with was clearly still there (their name was everywhere) as well but not available for a proper reunion. It was just as well – all the reasons I left were apparent within seconds of talking to Former Colleague #1.  And later when I called to get the lab results, Former Colleague #2, was pretty much unchanged as well.  And yet they were both what one could call good co-workers.  Generally nice people, easy to get along with, helped me get up to speed, and weren’t overly competitive.

But the whole experience of walking in there that day was surreal.  Made me feel as if sometimes you do get to travel in theTARDIS TARDIS. Just for a moment. Crack open the doors and see what could have been…then back home in time for dinner.  No time to ask questions and get sucked into another reality.

 

P.S. Further gratitude and love to a fellow blogger-goddess, Go-Go Rach, for whom this post was written.

Green Living – My Choices

Here are some ways that I ‘go green’ in my daily life.  [Note: there is no implied judgment about others here – do what you need to do!  The important thing, in my humble opinion, is to be well informed…  Every choice we make affects everyone else in some way shape or form.  And even doing nothing at all is a choice in and of itself.  So the least one can do is make a well-informed choice, even if it is to do nothing at all.  😀  Trust me, I have teenagers in my life – I have these kind of discussions on a regular basis!]

  • LIFE-LONG VEGETARIAN
    • I have been vegetarian my whole life and have made changes more recently that include a considerable decrease in processed foods, increase in local foods, less canned goods.  My choice to be vegetarian is very important to me and shapes who I am.  I chose to be vegetarian both for ethical and health-related reasons and am happy to elaborate.  I will post about it at a later time as well. Continue reading

Welcome to Mindful Beauty

On this site we hope to provide information useful for empowering us to continue to improve our health and the health of those around us.  We begin with a simple idea – that we are already beautiful and that by being mindful we can remind ourselves… our bodies of this beauty and enhance our overall well-being.

Mindfulness is a state of being aware of yourself and your surroundings.  It is a way of being that empowers you to take charge of what you put into/on your body and you decide what is ok for you.  You make decisions based on listening to the messages your body is already giving you in response to the external world.  You already do this and we can all teach each other how to do this better.  Mindfulness is an ongoing, evolving process that you can tailor to your own needs and style of life.

Mindful beauty finds ways to incorporate knowledge about beauty, health, and natural living into a unified idea that benefits the whole body… your body.  You are unique and you are also connected to a larger group of people and we seek to honor both the uniqueness and the connections, recognizing that no one single solution/recipe/plan will work for any one person but that any of these can be shared and reworked through discussion and collaboration.  We are a mindfully beautiful community!

I hope that you will find this site useful and that you will drop me a line if you have any thoughts at all about mindful beauty, health, wellness, this site, or anything at all.  I will try to respond as best I can.