Let me ask you a question. What if the weatherman says it is going to snow tomorrow morning and, when you wake up, it is sunny and dry? Is your world not turned upside down? It’s not, you say? Then let me ask you one more question. Why, if information such as this is not life-altering, do so many people make it the topic of discussion every time they open their mouths?
What is it about the weather that makes it the default for 97% of all communication with strangers in our society? Is that really the only thing we believe we have in common with one another? And what is it about elevators that make us talk about the weather?
“Hello.” Brrr, it’s cold out there!”
“It is. And I hear that it is supposed to snow all day.”
“Geez. Gotta love winter.”
“Yeah! 4 more months of this.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well, have a good day.”
“You, too. Stay warm.”
I honestly do not recall ever having a conversation in an elevator that did not revolve around the weather forecast. It seems to be one of those things in our society that we latch on to like an old, smelly security blanket, ridden with holes. For some reason, we MUST know what the weather is going to be like at all times. Not only can we turn on our local news 7 times a day and see what is happening with our weather, but we can actually watch The Weather Channel and never miss a single forecast for the entire world! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… all weather, all the time! Oh, for joy!
If that is not bad enough, we love to make sure the weather is a part of the negativity that we so embrace in our culture. Have you ever stopped to think that a “20% chance of rain” often means that there is an 80% chance of sun? I have yet to hear any meteorologist say it that way.
Want to know the weather? Look outside! You know where you live… you know the season… you know the 2-3 possibilities of what the weather will bring on any given day. I have worked with enough Meteorologists to know that there is a reason it is called weather “prediction.” Why do we feel the need to check the weather several times a day? There are times when you would like to plan for something that is weather dependent… I get it. However, simply put a “plan B” in place and move on!
OK, what is the point of all this?
Well, for one, we let things we cannot control take over our lives. In addition, we let inconsequential things affect whether we are miserable or happy. The problem with that is that we often discount the positive things that would make us happy and empower the negative things that make us miserable by dwelling on them.
So, how do we change this? Let me assure you that it is as easy as flipping a switch!
Here are 5 sure-fire ways to go from negative to positive in 10 seconds flat:
1. Stop making your life so difficult when you do not have to. If you are focusing on something over which you have zero control, stop and focus on what you have total control over. Then take action.
o An example of this might be you fretting over a weather forecast of a blizzard in the morning during rush hour. Your thoughts go straight to “I have a meeting at 8:00am! I’m going to be late! It’s going to throw off the entire day! Everyone will be miserable from the drive in!” Blah, blah, blah. Hold on… let me wipe away the tears. You have no control over the weather or over how other people may or may not react to it, right? Yet, if we focus on those things, we get all upset. Upset = miserable. SO, let’s “flip the switch.” Over what do you have total control here? Can you leave a half an hour earlier than you normally do? Can you get your stuff for the meeting ready tonight instead of trying to collect everything in the morning when you are already rushing? Can you choose to listen to something funny on the way to work instead of the depressing and rarely insightful news? SURE YOU CAN! YOU have total control of those things! Control = happy.
2. You will never change others. Stop trying! Shake your head if you must and move on. Rarely are the things we are shocked about truly shocking. We are who we are and we will never be who we are not. If you have issues with someone else, have the integrity to be honest, be respectful, and to agree to disagree.
3. You can always change yourself. Start taking inventory! If you have issues with many people, you may consider looking in a mirror. At times, it certainly may seem like you are the only sane person in the room. However, when enough people look at you funny when you give your 2 cents worth, you may need to figure out how you are appearing in the world. If you get stuck on this, go ask someone you can trust to be honest with you. It is said that sometimes the truth hurts. You need to decide if the truth hurts more or less than a negative appearance in the world.
4. Always ask yourself “could this be worse?” Chances are it could be MUCH worse! Everyday, you pass an accident on the side of the road, or you hear a helicopter and look up to see Life Flight, or you hear about someone you know of or care about receiving challenging news, such as a death or layoff or illness. Life happens. Be in the moment. Be grateful. Be happy. It could always be so much worse.
5. Think of your plan B whenever you commit to a Plan A. It just makes life so much easier if you were proactive enough to say “what if?” Even if you do not do something about it, you will be more prepared if you have given it a thought when something (you cannot control) happens to thwart your Plan A.
Getting to “happy” is attainable by anyone. Getting rid of the mind clutter and minutia is an integral part of that. Here is a challenge from The Identity Coach: try going with your very own weather instinct for one week. You may be amazed at how often you are right. And how often you are less stressed about what “might” happen.
The takeaways here are simple: Life happens. There are things over which you have no control and there are things over which you have total control, focus on those things over which you have total control. Take a little time away from looking at others to look at you. Be proactive sometimes instead of being reactive always. Lastly, something I heard my grandma Estelle utter often,” this too shall pass.” Go find the joy in your life!