Stormpocalypse followed me home from Seattle, and I fell asleep - and woke up several times last night - to the sound of rain pouring down on my house.
I've been waiting for the weather to get cold and rainy, so I can finally put down my rye grass seed, so I was thrilled at the prospect of a few inches of rain today and tomorrow . . . until I got up this morning and discovered that our roof has a serious leak. This is never good news, but we just spent our entire home improvement budget repairing the damage from past storms, and fundamentally altering the part of our house that we thought was responsible for it.
It turns out that there's a different leak, somewhere else on the roof, and not only do we have no idea where it is, it's going to put a lot of stress on our already-stressed monthly budget to find and repair it.
As you can imagine, I was very unhappy when I saw water pouring down my living room wall this morning, but we made a call to the roof guy, and he told Anne that there's nothing we can do until it dries up.
After talking to him she told me, "He'll come out tomorrow, but as far as today goes, freaking out about it won't accomplish anything."
I was already on my way to a serious category five freakout, but she was right. I needed to figure out a way to pull out of the spiral of anger and frustration, especially since I'm writing a column today on how you can deal with holiday stress and actually enjoy the season. I commented on Twitter that I was enjoying the cognitive dissonance.
I don't like wallowing in pity or other negative emotions, so I gave myself a task for the day: focus only on the things that make me happy. I picked out the very first thing that came to mind: Sleigh Ride was playing on Soma's Christmas Lounge. Ever since I was a little kid, that was the song for Christmas. It's so upbeat and evokes such wonderful images of happiness and joy, it never fails to put a smile on my face.
Project Procrastinate Under Deadline required me to share this moment with Twitter, and in so doing, I remembered something someone said to me many, many years ago. I forget the precise wording, but the suggestion was to take a moment every day to identify three different things that I was happy or grateful for. The exercise is awesome, because the first thing is always very easy to list, but it's a challenge to just pick two more things.
I can only speak for myself, but in the process of identifying just three things I'm happy about, I always find a lot more, and no matter how upsetting or annoying the bad things are, they are vastly outweighed by the good. It's easy to lose perspective when your roof is leaking (but at least you've got a roof, right?) or when your boss is bitching you out about putting new covers on the TPS reports (at least you've got a job, right?) or when a continent or an ocean separates you from the person you love most in the world (I don't have to put a parenthetical on this one, right?) But it's just as easy to spend a minute picking out things that make you happy as it is to focus on the things that suck. It's empowering, too, because when you focus on the good things, you make a successful save vs. everything else in the world and get +5 to all other saves for the rest of the day.
Here are the three things I picked out this morning:
1.) I'm healthy and in good shape. 2.) I have a family that truly loves each other. 3.) I have a series of very good jobs.
About a hundred people have replied to me on Twitter, sharing three things that make them happy. I'm going to assume that many of you reading this are dealing with some degree of holiday stress; why not take a minute - just sixty seconds out of the day - and reflect on three things that make you happy? Whether you're having a great day or a lousy one, I promise you'll feel better when you're done.