Ever in a seriously foul mood? Ever find yourself in a bad mood for no reason at all (or no good reason anyway)?
I was at the eye doctors’s office for a 4:30 appointment. At 4:45, one of the doctor’s assistants did the pre-examination. And then I sat for 45 minutes, the first 30 minutes unhappily stewing that “these people” would have the “audacity” to “steal my time” (something I can’t recover).
Here’s my recipe to be miserable.
What are you telling yourself about the situation?
What you tell yourself about an experience determines what impact it has on your attitude and your emotional state.
I told myself that the people at the eye doctor’s office were rude. I told myself they were stealing my time. I told myself that they were being disrespectful. And guess how that made me feel about the experience and the people?
It doesn’t matter that none of these things were true. I experienced them anyway.
What are you telling yourself about what it means?
One great way to work yourself into a crooked mood is to tell yourself something means more than it does.
I told myself that I could never reclaim the time I lost. I told myself that this time could been invested in some better experience than sitting in an eye doctor’s crowded waiting room. My life is too short to waste time!
How much did the 45 minutes cost me in the big scheme of things? Not all that much. But what I told myself it meant was almost enough to make me complain (something that would have made a lot of other people share in my poor state).
What words are you using to describe the experience to yourself?
The words you use to describe an experience make up that experience.
I told myself that this was “miserable.” I told myself that “if there is a Hell,” it looks a lot like a doctor’s office or a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office (although the BMV in my neighborhood would shame any doctor’s office).
Having told myself that I was miserable, it was true.
What’s Really True?
What I told myself about the situation wasn’t likely true. It’s more likely that a lot of people are trying to visit the eye doctors, some to use their insurance before it expires. It’s more likely that the doctors were working hard to accommodate as many people as possible. Even if this isn’t true, this is what I decided to tell myself. I assumed good intentions.
I didn’t really “lose 45 minutes of my life” either. I had my phone and my tablet with me. I set up an appointment, sent two emails, and drafted a blog post. Because I had the tools with me, I used most of that time to do something productive (I toyed with the idea of using their waiting room as my office and making calls, but thought better of it).
Instead of deciding to be miserable, I decided I would choose to be productive and happy to have the time to work uninterrupted.
The same tools you use to put yourself and foul and unproductive state can be used to create a positive, productive attitude. It’s a choice.
What’s your recipe for a foul, nasty, unproductive mood?
What meaning do you give something or someone to create that attitude and emotional state?
What words do you incant to create a poor attitude?
How do you reverse this recipe?