Sunny means choosing how you’re going to respond to life. You can’t always control what happens, but you can decide how you are going to respond. Most of my life, I’ve been blessed with the ability to look on the bright side and respond in a way that improved things. But one of the reasons that I feel qualified to talk about being sunny is that I’ve weathered a few storms and come out the other side.
There was a time when my entire world turned upside down and it took me a while to turn it right-side-up again (referred to in an earlier post as The Year from Hell.) And just when I was getting it all back together, my world turned inside out. The one area of life that I’d always considered an unqualified success had suddenly done a 180 and I found myself completely unable to cope. Heartbroken and alone, I arranged with my employer to telecommute and moved back home with my mom – yeah, really. I was a miserable blob of self-pity.
Everyone was trying to get me to just get over it. But my choice was not to get over it, my choice was to wish it all away and that wasn’t working. I isolated myself and focused on things I could do well – like work and watching Jeopardy. At least there I knew the answers.
Then one day my friend Howard stopped by. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, but he needed my help with something and figured he could count on my support. When I was reluctant, he starting talking about responsibility and making positive things happen.
Howard was surprised when I burst into angry tears. Why? Why even bother? It doesn’t matter how positive you are or how hard you work or how good you are to people – in the end nobody gives a shit. They just care about themselves.
He just looked at me for a moment. He was used to the other me: the cheerful, willing one who always found a way to help. Who was this stranger?
And I guess that had been the problem: everyone was so used to the sunny me that they had no idea what to do or say. What do you do when the person who cheers everyone else up has suddenly turned into Eeyore?
But Howard did something no one else had done, he helped lift the burden. He said, “Wow, I am so sorry. I know you’ve had a tough time, you even mentioned something about it. But I was so involved in my own things that I didn’t take the time to be there for you even thought I suspected you needed some help and that was wrong because you’re one of the good guys. I’m sorry. You’re my friend and you deserve better than that.”
And somehow, that did the trick. All I really needed was someone to agree that it was unfair, that my track record made me deserving of better karma than this, and that as my friend he felt responsible for my welfare. Other people felt sorry for what happened for me, but Howard expressed a sense of obligation in thanks for the good that I’d done in life. And I was able to just let it go.
I woke up the next morning feeling normal again. Coincidentally (or not) an interesting new opportunity came my way the next day and I took off on a new journey that ended up with me finding confidence and strength at a whole new level.
So the point is this: Be there for people. You never know when that little extra bit of love and life energy that you throw someone’s way will make all of the difference in the world.