I had a bad day this week. Nothing catastrophic, just busy and tired and not feeling great. I have a good friend who listens on those days, and as I always do, I felt better after I talked to him. The next day he sent me a text and asked if it was a better day. I replied, “Absolutely! I changed my attitude.” He said,”It works every time.”
The holidays are a busy time, and with them come a set of high expectations for the perfect Christmas card, the most beautiful decorations, and the exactly right gifts for everyone. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s a high bar. It can cause stress at the time when we need it the least. A positive attitude is important right now.
So how do we do that? I think we do it by being intentional about the stories we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves.
I love listening to stories from Steve Hartman on the CBS Evening News and Sunday Morning. From early in his career he has focused on telling the stories of everyday people. He went so far as to build an entire series on the premise that if you threw a dart at a map, you could find someone with a moving and inspirational story worth telling.
In a world full of news about violence and crisis and divisiveness, his stories remind that us that this world is filled with kindness and resilience and love. Everyday people doing everyday things building a life of meaning and filling the world with good. We need to spend our energy telling those stories.
At the end of the day, share the most positive events of the day with your family. Don’t relive the negative events.
Spend time each day identifying the people who were kind to you and who went out of their way to say something nice. I walked out of the grocery store on my bad day this week and the volunteer ringing bells in the cold said, “You look lovely today honey.” A total stranger, freezing in the cold to raise money to help others, took the time to say something kind to me. Why wasn’t that what I called my friend to share? It should have been.
And be the voice who is saying the kind things to other people. It takes very little to turn someone’s day around. A smile. A warm greeting. An affirming comment can make all the difference in the middle of a bad day. Be the positive story that others tell at the end of their day.
I can’t promise that December will not be stressful. I can’t promise that nothing will go wrong or that no one will be cruel to you. But I do know that in the midst of those things there will be moments of great joy, people of good will, and kindness and love all around.
Tell those stories!