I have an awesome girlfriend.
I could spend a whole post listing out the multitudes of qualities that make her awesome, but I think one quality in particular – which manifested itself when we exchanged Christmas gifts – speaks particular volumes.
And this particular quality that I admire so much is that she gets me.
This was strongly reinforced when I unwrapped one of my Christmas gifts from her to find a white coffee mug that had been customized like only she can.
On the mug, in bold, black, handwritten lettering is this phrase: “WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME!”
WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME!
I am an avid coffee drinker. My first activity every morning, sometimes before even fully opening my eyes, is to turn on my Keurig machine. So it is within mere seconds of rising from bed that I am reaching for a coffee mug.
Prior to our Christmas gift exchange, this meant grabbing either a 49ers mug or a plain back mug. As hard as I cheer for the 49ers, nothing about grabbing that mug in the morning is inspiring me in any way.
But filling up and sipping from my WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME! mug? That’s the kind of positive morning affirmation that gets me going.
See? She gets me.
And today, the message on my new favorite mug really paid dividends. Because I woke up feeling a little melancholy today. Nothing major, just a few unwanted negative thoughts. Hey, it happens.
I try to explain this to people, especially those who hear things I say or read things I write and just think that I’m always happy-go-lucky or that my positive attitude comes easy. That’s not true, and I say that hoping that it is a empowering thought for others.
Attitude can be a choice…perhaps not always, but most of the time. It just takes practice.
Certainly my generally positive attitude comes easier now, but it’s also taken many years of determined self-awareness to build my attitude muscle to the point where it can be positive and optimistic most of the time. I’m proud of that. But I’m also humble enough to remember that I have to constantly protect and exercise my attitude, lest I lose what has been built.
Anyway, this morning was one of those mornings where my attitude was tested a bit.
A Melancholy Morning
For whatever reason, I awoke at 4:00 this morning (I think it was my dog’s doing, but I’m not sure), and my first thought was of a good friendship that has become a little strained recently. I’d been thinking about it some before I went to bed, which is probably why I thought of it first upon waking up.
Of the many things that can challenge my attitude and really consume my thoughts, negative or confusing or unspoken issues between me and a close friend or family member are the most pervasive. I know this. So I really wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t shake the feeling of frustration.
Thinking about this particular friend then led to me lamenting how I haven’t seen so many of my friends back home in Indiana for a while, and how it’s my fault for that since it’s my turn to take a trip up north.
I was eventually able to fall back asleep, but when I woke up for good around 6:00, these thoughts were still front and center in my mind. And I found myself struggling to flip their negative connotations into positives.
WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME! it implored.
It was exactly the message I needed.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel all that awesome when negative thoughts are consuming my mind.
So I took a few deep breaths, and while I waited for my coffee to cool enough to drink it, I forced myself to flip the positives into negatives.
And I succeeded in doing so by following Lesson #12 from this post I wrote on New Year’s Day: Be grateful and show appreciation.
(I have a feeling this is going to become a theme of 2013…and I am absolutely okay with that!)
Gratitude and Appreciation
Instead of dwelling on future adventures that may never occur with my aforementioned friend, and the weird feeling of a strain in what has always been a pretty easy-going friendship, I focused instead on the pleasant memories of all the great times we have spent together. I remembered immediately how grateful I was for each of those entertaining and at times enlightening moments, and how much I appreciated what this friend had brought to my life.
And I thought about what I can do moving forward to make our friendship as great as it possibly can still be given the circumstances, some of which I can control and some I cannot. This eased the frustration.
The gratitude and the appreciation, combined with parsing what I can and cannot control, immediately made me feel, well, awesome.
Thanks to the mug for reminding me.
Similarly, I decided to not beat myself up over not having made a return trip to Indiana in over two years, though I did make sure to make a mental note of how grateful I was to my friends for making trips down to Dallas to see me.
The truth is, I probably could have made a trip happen by now with a little better planning and a little more saving here or there, but I also can’t change what has already happened. I can, however, learn from it and use it as motivation moving forward. Which is what I’ll do.
It completely changed my perspective, in a very positive way, to set a goal in my head to get back to Indiana at some point in 2013 (and yes kiddo, when I say “Indiana” that means Cincinnati too…of course!).
I’d flipped a lamentation from the past – something I cannot change and can no longer control – into something I can now look forward to for the future and start planning for in the present.
The Surefire Way To Feel Awesome
So, what is the surefire way to WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME! that I promised in the headline of this post?
Well, you can get yourself a kickass girlfriend who gets you and somehow knows exactly the right words to put on your coffee mug for Christmas. Of course, that’s easier said than done (which is why I’m so lucky to have her).
So this way might be more realistic for you: commit yourself to being grateful and showing appreciation … even just in your own thoughts.
Being consistently grateful is one of the clearest paths to consistent happiness that I can think of. And showing appreciation, in both thought and eventually action, pays that happiness forward and shares it with others.
And that is really awesome.
I’m quite grateful that I woke up to these awesome thoughts this morning. It’s going to be a great day.