I got home from a hectic few days of running around and couch-hopping to find a small $5 book sitting on my bed. Written by Patrick Lindsay, the book is entitled, Be Happy: 170 ways to transform your day.
It was an inexpensive clearance rack book and I threw it into my purse to read during my dinner break at work. But before I did that, I thought about the action that went into acquiring this book for me. It was a simple thought, something my mother had seen that had reminded her of me…something she had picked up because she knew I’d enjoy adding to my arsenal of inspirational books and happiness knowledge.
But more than that, the unexpected present said something else. It was a token that whispered, “I understand your dream and I believe in you.”
It’s that kind of simple thinking that can transform an exhausted day into one of revitalized hope and motivation…the kind of act that can change a world.
I was reading through some of the pages last night as I sat behind the front desk at my place of employment and nibbled on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The book is formatted with an accented title of a few words, like a rule to live by. Then, there is a short paragraph explaining the insight, and finally a quote at the bottom.
It’s the kind of book that you could read in a half hour and be done; or, if you’re like me, it’s the kind of book that you read page by page dissolving and analyzing every line and word as though all the answers in the universe may be contained between those ink spots.
I was only at my 5th title when I slowed down to read:
Grizzling achieves nothing. Just stirs animosity; promotes negatives and excuses. Look through others’ eyes. Seek solutions. Make positive suggestions. Help implement them. You’ll be surprised at your reception.
‘Never complain, never explain.’
And that was it. That’s the entirety of page 11 of my new book. As I said, it’s a short, quick read…unless you’re me.
I slowed down and reread the title. Stop complaining. I had tried once, in high school, a small experiment. I was to go an entire day without complaining. I was sitting in my 3rd period German class, small talking with my desk mate when I whined, “it’s always so cold in this classroom.”
Now, that’s not a major complaint, but a complaint none the less. But then I thought about why I voiced my annoyance with the temperature. It really wasn’t that cold in the room; it was just that I felt I had nothing else worthwhile to say or to carry the conversation. So I reverted back to a familiarity for mopey teenagers and found something to complain about.
I found it very difficult to go a whole day without complaining. There was always something wrong.
I’m so tired.
I have so much homework to do tonight.
I can’t stand that teacher.
How am I supposed to go to my locker, get a drink, and go to the bathroom all before walking up two flights of stairs and across the school to my next class in four minutes?
You know, normal everyday things that are irksome. I didn’t make it the whole day. Or the next time I tried it. Or the next time. But by simply watching out for it and taking a mental note of every time my mind turned sour, I found myself catching some of the displeasures before they left my lips.
Now don’t get me wrong—I still complain. But now I’m aware. I’ve taken notice to understand that complaining about a problem doesn’t fix anything. Action does.
I decided last night that today’s blog would be about little things that can make a big difference: like a surprise book on your bed or a personal goal for self-improvement. Maybe it’s about really listening, not with intent to reply but with a motive of understanding. Maybe it’s about seeing someone, through their mask and as they are. Maybe it’s about changing a cultural norm, where small talk stops being about negative observations and instead focuses on the good in the world.
What if we all began our day sharing a happy moment with a stranger?
The smallest details of our lives are often the things that make up the biggest moments in our memories.
Make it count.