GRUMPY. For no particular reason at all. Maybe exhaustion, maybe hormones. Who knows. All I know is I woke up one Saturday morning this February and couldn't shake this nagging feeling of being upset. Do you ever have that happen, where you just wake up in a bad mood? It's the worst! Hard to shake it the rest of the day.
Okay so I do actually do know why I was grumpy. Dan and I had been squabbling the night before after I worked a really long week. I had several stories airing during "sweeps" (that's TV talk for the stressful ratings periods every few months) and I had worked till 2 a.m. several nights in a row trying to get my stories done only to get up a few hours later, get the baby ready, go to the gym and go back to work for another long day.
This particular Saturday Dan offered to stay at home with the baby so I could go to the gym. I was on my way there when I realized I had zero energy for working out. Typically a good barre or HIIT (high intensity interval training) class will put me in a GREAT mood the rest of the day, but this day, I knew I couldn't even work up the energy to try. So instead, I veered toward Barnes and Nobles to spend an hour doing what I LOVE: having a skinny vanilla latte (SO GOOD) and reading a new book.
So I picked up the latest book from the author of the best-seller “Big Little Lies” called “The Husband's Secret" and I was standing in line at the Starbucks inside Barnes and Nobles when a guy about my own age in a black trench coat and baggy jeans (circa the 1998 Manson Goth phase) stood next to me.
You could tell by the looks on other people’s faces they were a bit unnerved by him. He was like one of those guys that got picked on in high school because people don’t like what they don’t understand. But I’ve always found that those are the more interesting people once you give them a chance.
He caught my eye and I gave him a sort-of smile, but again I was still SUPER grumpy and having trouble getting out of my funk, and this guy didn’t exactly scream “friendly.”
After I ordered and picked a seat to start reading my book, he came over and sat at the table next to me. My first thought? Ugh, annoyed. I just wanted to be left alone in my blissful one hour without baby, work or responsibilities. Plus I spend all day at work talking to strangers, so sometimes when I’m not working I like to avoid talking to anyone at all.
But as I read my first few pages, I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye that he had a HUGE binder he was flipping through filled with some incredible ink drawings. Dark stuff, but still very talented.
I immediately thought to myself, you should compliment him on those, I bet it would make his day.
You never know when something so small as a smile or compliment can change somebody’s life, and working in news I’m very aware of the small acts of kindness that can go a long way. And I thought of my happiness project and my goal to “TRY SOMETHING NEW.”Well, here’s my chance...I would never EVER have done this before my happiness project challenge but I finally worked up the nerve to talk to this total stranger. He had headphones in so I tapped him on the elbow and asked him about his drawings. He handed his binder over to me and let me flip through them. They were beautiful. Creative, mythical, darkly interesting. They reminded me endearingly of my little brother Steve who loves drawing video game/fantasy type stuff.
The pen and ink drawings this guy handmade. He was so excited to show me his work, you could tell he brought the binder hoping someone would ask him about them.
This guy was SO excited to show me his work. And when he asked if I wanted to buy one, I dropped $25 on two. He walked away with the biggest smile on his face, and so did I. To be honest, I don’t really know WHY I even bought them, I’ll never put these things up in my house. But I DO know that every time I look at them (tucked away in my closet) they make me happy.
They are a reminder to be nice to people and more so they reminded me of a moment where I stopped focusing on my own self (and an argument I was having with Dan or whatever was going on that morning) and instead thought of somebody else’s happiness.
That alone put me in a better mood for the whole rest of the day. I even bought a notebook there called “The 52 Lists Project” and a necklace that says “love.” The book encourages me to write down things I’m thankful for, and the necklace reminds me of Dan and Joss, my two greatest loves. I think of them every time I see the necklace around my neck.
LOVE this book. It has you write down things like "List your goals and dreams for this year" and "list the happiest moments in your life so far."
So all this to say, next time you see someone who looks lonely or tired or stressed, reach out to them and say hi. I guarantee you that it won’t just make them smile, it’ll also make YOU smile. Get outside of your own head; be thankful for your blessings.
My happiness project goal to “try something new” is pushing me outside my comfort zone, but it’s also pushing my personal growth. I encourage you to try it, you may like what you find.