Like most others, I’m thrilled to see 2016 disappear from the calendar and am ready to step into a new chapter. (Although I have no grand illusion about how 2017’s world is going to be perfect.)
Recently, I’ve had conversations where I was asked something along the lines of, “how do you stay so positive?” or “how do you not let that bother you?” or (my personal favorite) “why are you so nice?” (Wait, what?)
Well, I have fucked up a lot in life, so have built up a ton of resiliency, but truly, I think part of it is my nature. I’m pretty laid back, can’t hold a grudge and love making people happy, but more than anything … I choose joy.
But let’s be real: when life continuously shits on me, I lose it. I have moments where I completely break down. Mostly this happens alone, but often in front of my three-year old or sometimes one of my best friends. For as open as I am with my writing, I struggle showing emotion (both positive and negative) in front of most people.
A few weeks ago, I had a bad day. I’m talking about the kind of day where life kicks you in the gut – hard. At 6pm, I called my best friend (who I had already cried to multiple times that day) and said, “I know it’s a week night, but can you just come over?” Thirty minutes later, she showed up with chicken sandwiches, fries, two drinks that could be mixed with vodka, a bottle of red wine, mixed olives and her husband’s homemade fudge because she “wasn’t sure what I needed.” (She’s truly the best of the best and I am so grateful for her.)
In difficult moments, it is exhausting to be positive or choose joy. And sometimes I choose sadness or anger or bitterness or resentment. And that day was one of those times, because I’m human.
But often, I find the silver lining. There have been two things that have helped me to choose joy when life is one giant suck show: I was hurt more than I ever thought possible and … I ran out of fucks to give.
In the ashes of my most tumultuous relationship (When it ended for real, not the 53 times it “ended” before that.), I did a lot of soul searching. I read dumb self-help books, I listened to podcasts like “stop fucking up your life for dummies,” I spent a lot of time alone (especially in nature) and when I did spend time with others, I made sure they were the right people. (I set a lot of boundaries during this time.)
Eventually, I began to proactively make myself choose joy. I stopped caring quite a bit about not only certain things in life, but also about what others thought of me. I pulled myself out from under the “I’m such a terrible person; I’ve made so many mistakes; I don’t deserve to be happy or find love” blanket of lies I told myself.
I realized that often, the way people treat you is a reflection of them, not you. (Which holds true for myself and the shitty ways I’ve treated people in the past too.) I stopped putting so much merit on being “good enough” for others and simply focused on being the best human I could be. Even if that means dishes are often piled in the sink and sometimes I forget to pack my kid a lunch.
I put things in perspective: my life is pretty rad. And the bad things that happen to me are often stressful, unexpected, shitty bumps in the road. But even they are easily overcome. (Well, maybe not always “easily.”)
In the midst of this radical life/self-acceptance, I’ve stopped caring about a lot. The little things for sure (even though I am a “little things” person), but even some of the big things. Bad things absolutely, but even some of the good things.
I can hold on to how badly someone treated me, but what good is resentment? I could dwell on a mistake I made at work, but wouldn’t it be more effective for me to find a solution? I could get my hopes up about something exciting that happened, but I’ve learned to just take things as they come.
Don’t get me wrong: I have a huge heart and a whole ton of emotions; I feel a lot. Perhaps I love too easily, put my trust in others too quickly, am too nice to those who don’t treat me the same or basically just “float through life” with a too-laid back attitude. And sometimes, yes, I get hurt or screwed over, but to use my grandma’s favorite phrase: meh.
It’s taken some time to feel this way. About two years … coincidentally, the amount of time it’s been since I moved back to Colorado. (Cheers to fresh starts; they work.) But I can usually find the joy (and humor) in most anything these days.
When life pushes you down this year (no offense; it will), push back. Choose happiness, be yourself, dance in the kitchen, get lost in the woods, laugh with a kid, take a day off, go after big dreams and surround yourself with people who love you and care about you.
Ironically I just received a text from one of the best people in my life that reads “2017’ll be better for ya. I know it will.” … alright, it started with “happy new year muthafuuucka.”
Love you, Majewski.
So cheers to 2017. Being real. Proactively choosing joy. And unapologetically loving big.