I’ve made a paradigm shift in my life this semester—did you know?
It’s true: I’ve decided to be happy about life. Happy about school, specifically. I complained my entire way through last semester, and even though I passed with good marks in the end, I was so bitter about the process of receiving those marks, I couldn’t even enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I’d gotten them. It was ridiculous. By April, I was seriously depressed. It was not a happy time for me, and that’s the main reason I’ve been dreading the start of another semester.
But you know? It doesn’t have to be like that. I have the power to mold my own destiny.
I know, I know—all that motivational bull hockey is poison for the soul. It annoys me, too, but it really does work.
This semester, I decided to try an experiment. I should’ve been a chemist, obviously. After my first day of classes last week, I phoned Poor Kyle to give the report.
“So, how did it go?” he asked, and my mind’s eye could see him cringing, bracing himself for the onslaught of hatred and bitterness that is usually seething out of my brain after a day at university.
“It went great! It was fantastic!” I replied, the picture of cheerfulness.
“…Really?” My husband was suspicious—such jolly words were not normal for me, so naturally, he assumed I was being sarcastic.
“Yeah, really. I like my classes, I like my teachers, I am thrilled with my schedule, the readings this year should be interesting…it went great!”
I went on to explain, in detail, all the good aspects of my day, leaving out any part that would deter me from my goal of utter happiness. Poor Kyle made interested comments, and was genuinely happy that my day had gone so well.
I realised that if I had instead said what I’d been plotting to say for most of the day [i.e. school sucks, words suck, I suck, life sucks], it would have been a much shorter conversation. Nobody ever knows what to say to an unhappy person. I mean, what is there to say, beyond “I’m really sorry?” Not a lot. But, when there was real happiness and excitement to discuss, we couldn’t fit the conversation into my 45-minute drive home—it spilled over into dinner, and later, into dishwashing duty. Being happy about life has had a positive effect on my marriage.
At first I had been faking my contentedness, but I found myself actually believing it by the end of the day. How about that? I controlled my own emotions. Where first I was feeling angry and bitter, I made myself feel positive and hopeful.
It hasn’t all been perfect, though—later that day, I ran into Poor Kyle’s good family friend at Costco, and I had a little slip-up in my experiment.
“How was school today?” she inquired in front of the produce section, where I was headed to look at buying a giant vat of plump grapes. (Barb’s a loyal blog reader and therefore knew that I had started a new semester that day—so sweet of her to ask how it went! Hi, Barb!)
I started out cheerfully enough, but by the end of my report, my voice was dripping with sarcasm:
“It was great. Fantastic! I loved it—every bit of it [here’s where I started getting carried away]. I love paying $200 to park 2 miles away from campus. I love my idiot professors who pile on loads of papers and readings. I love it all. Why do you ask?”
She commiserated with me as best she could, and we parted ways. What more was there to say than, “I’m really sorry?” Nothing. If I can’t look on the bright side of my own life, I can’t expect that anybody else will, either. After she left to pay for her grocery cart of goodies (because fact: Coscto=joy), I silently rebuked myself for failing to maintain a positive outlook. Patsy Pessimist has no friends, because nobody likes to talk to life-draining people.
I killed my inner Patsy Pessimist last week—at least, in terms of school.
School is great. Fantastic! I really do have a lovely schedule—much better than last semester. I leave and return home while the sun is up, and there’s a really good talk show on CBC radio during the exact time of my commute. I am in a situation where I can afford to pay for a parking pass—much better than when I was at ASU and had to stealthily park at various businesses surrounding campus. I lived in fear of receiving a parking ticket, which ultimately I did. Thus far, I have avoided such a fate at this University.
So you see, there are a myriad of lovely aspects of school, and the bad stuff? Well, the bad stuff is getting shoved under lock and key.
It might build up and explode someday, but I am forcing myself to wait at least until finals are over—I need to channel all my energy into passing these classes. Cheerfully.