The day I met my boyfriend I felt like crap. It was early afternoon and I was a bored bartender behind an empty bar in Hawaii. When he showed up and ordered a beer I didn’t feel like perking up and putting on my happy service face. I was hot, hungry, probably hungover, and preoccupied about homework for grad school. I wanted to hide out in the liquor room and eat nachos.
But there was no way I was going to be a downer for my sole customer so I forced some energy into my bones and made some light and cheery generic conversation. That moment eventually turned into a friendship, which eventually turned into a great relationship. If I had not tried to break out of my rut the at the bar that day, my life may have gone a completely different path with someone else.
A few days ago I was about to run some errands. I was lazy and unmotivated and the sludge of mundane concerns was beginning to cascade down my brain. On more days than I’d like to admit, that I’ve let that sludge take over. I would frump around, complain, and give a grumpy goodbye before trudging out. But expressing my bad mood in that way never relieved my rut. I would immediately regret my behavior and feel even worse, and then the sludge would turn into an avalanche.
So I decided there was no way I was going to be a downer for someone else today. I consciously put aside my thoughts for a moment and discovered that it was quite easy to muster up a playful goodbye to my boyfriend before stepping out. I had suddenly realized that I gathered enough momentum to boost me up out of my rut. It was the catalyst that changed my outlook on my day without having to change anything except making a small effort. This was so significant to me.
Something that I’ve always found interesting is that when we become really comfortable with someone, we can put down all the masks we usually put up as our public persona. There is much freedom, relief and intimacy in this yet I believe we should never become so comfortable with someone that we no longer try to be considerate of their mood.
Just as we expect restaurant hostesses and flight attendants to put in the extra effort to smile at us and be welcoming; and just as how we automatically put on our best faces to answer the door or speak to a client, we should do for the ones we love the most.
It may feel difficult because when we are really comfortable, we are so used to just expressing ourselves unabashedly and letting it all hang out, that “faking it” may feel like just another annoying social requirement. We feel like we are being frauds, or that we are lying to ourselves. But if we turn it on for complete strangers, why can’t we do it for people we care about? And ultimately for ourselves?
It really is just being considerate towards another person who ultimately has no responsibility for the way our life is going or what side of the bed we woke up on. (And even though it may seem like someone else is responsible, it really never is — but that’s for another post!) It’s about putting aside our bad moods, stresses, preoccupations and annoyance for a few seconds while we make a decision to be sweet and upbeat for our loved ones. We can tell them that we are feeling a little down today and why, but we don’t have to smear our own mental sludge onto them and bring them down with us.
We all have a choice to either perpetuate our bad moods by spreading them around and informing everyone that we are a victim of our lives, or we can attempt to cut the rut and find a moment of joy amidst the grind.