I try to be an easygoing person. Some have even described me as laid back. But like many, when things went wrong, it can be tough to recover from. Some coping skills just aren’t effective, unless you consider drowning your sorrows in bottles of wine and pans of brownies healthy. When things don’t go my way or my expectations weren’t met, I can feel desperately inept at holding myself together.
I wait for my life to change–for things to start going my way. And that’s when I finally realize that life doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t simply go the way you want it to, no matter how much you wish or pray about it, and even sometimes no matter how hard you work at it. More often than not, life is simply hard. You don’t often get what you want, and many feel they don’t get what they deserve. We just get what we get. It’s how we cope with it, embrace it, and learn from it that makes us whole or broken.
Once I realized this, it was a slow awakening. I didn’t simply understand one day and wake up changed. Just like the reality of the alarm clock in the morning, I tried to deny it. I hit snooze. Pulled the covers over my head. Chased the last bits of darkness and dreams. But eventually, as is always true, I had to wake up and live my life.
Funnily enough, I took my cues on changing the way I lived from one of my employees and friend dog Jacoby. After all, He is happy all the time, so who better to look to for ways to live life? So I started to live like Jacoby.
1. Embrace the morning.
I hear that every morning, Jacoby wakes up happy and realized there’s no reason I can’t, too. He’s always snuggly and wagging and excited that it’s a new day. Instead of waking each morning and wishing my life were different, I decided to wake up thinking of it as a new beginning. No matter what has happened the day before, the morning is always a new opportunity—to change your attitude, your mood, your mind. That was a decision I had to make, a practice to put into play. I talked myself through it everyday until I didn’t need reminders anymore. Now, I awake to stretch my limbs, get some good snuggles, and go outside for some fresh air. Each morning, regardless of whether it’s cold outside or I’m especially sleepy, is a fresh start.
2. Use your senses.
During competition season I have to walk Jacoby every once and a while. Every time I walk him, he’s constantly sniffing, listening, alert. I realized that I never paid attention to my surroundings. I was always too busy brooding—looking at my feet or my phone or just lost in negative thoughts. Now, I’m present in each moment of my day. I look up at the sky to notice its blueness and the way the clouds stretch across the horizon. I take deep breaths, inhale the crisp winter air, and give thanks. I listen to the last of the leaves crunching underfoot, and cuddle into the softness of my scarf. It makes me grateful for the small things.
Let me preface this by telling you: I am not a singer. But, Jacoby absolutely adores it when I sing. He wags his whole body when I sing to him. I sing The Ramones, Greenday and James Taylor and butcher every last lyric and note. But guess what? It makes him—and me—happy. You can’t belt out Bohemian Rhapsody and stay in a bad mood. It’s a scientific fact. Ok, maybe not, but it’s true for me.
4. Show affection.
No matter what has happened in his day, Jacoby is always glad to see Matt. He wags. He jumps. He gives kisses and cuddles. He even cuddles up to me when I come over and sit on the couch and he tries to sit on my lap (No easy feat as he is nearly as big as me). While his affection doesn’t exactly translate into my world, I take a cue from him by smiling at people on the street, saying good morning, holding doors open, and paying compliments to friends and strangers alike. Not surprisingly, it makes me feel good to make others feel good.
How does this translate into resilience? Well, I’m a happier person. Not because I have the perfect job or family or friends (and I DO). Not because I have loads of money or amazing Car (I DON’T). I’m happier because I’m grateful. I realize that for all the things I don’t have in my life, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, more to appreciate. When things don’t go the way I’d hoped, it doesn’t destroy me because I can recognize that there’s so much I have that is good, and there are so many reasons to be happy. I allow myself to feel sad or hurt or angry, but it doesn’t consume me. I feel it, and then I move on from it. I can see the bigger picture and realize that these are all small moments in a much greater scene. Rather than pursuing happiness, I’m just letting myself be happy.
Sometimes Jacoby come to the gym to help us with Vaulting