Little is Big on a Bad Day … February 15, 2013

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Pictured above is the Miakka School House, a historical landmark which I photographed last night during my visit to the tiny community, which is strategically enclosed in the greenery and mushiness of Central Florida.

You might suspect that in person, the schoolhouse does not appear to be psychedelic. I have enhanced it. Some people would say I’ve distorted the image. Such is life. Rarely do we get a glimpse of an image in actuality before our minds take it over and attempt to either enhance it, or in a fit of frustration, distort it.

I will tell you this of a certainty–very few people have their lives ruined by a disaster–mainly because disasters are rare. It is much more likely to have your life altered, devastated or left barren by a little thing that is blown out of proportion than it ever is by being struck by lightning. The human tendency to take “little things” and make them “big” simply because “we’re having a bad day” is what renders us fearful, suspicious and often frozen–unable to move forward.

Our upbringing doesn’t help. Adding to the trepidation are the number of murders offered on television as evidence of a cruel society. And honestly, just the human tendency to think that evil is more intriguing than good causes us to swing to the dark side. I guess it would be harmless if it weren’t so harmful. But it is often in the midst of our false concerns that we fail to recognize a true opportunity, which ends up leaving us with a mess.

How can we keep from distorting the facts presented to us? Or just as bad, from trying to enhance everything in order to make it look better, ending up with a bizarre representation?

First of all, I think we have to admit to ourselves early in our morning that we are ill-prepared for the day and have set our feet toward being a dunderhead. Sometimes I even give those around me the gracious warning that I am a ticking time bomb of stupidity.  Amazingly, often that is enough to shake us out of our dim-wittedness.

Yes, merely confessing “I’m having a bad day” sometimes changes it into a good day. But if you continue to walk around in a foul mood, insisting there is nothing wrong with you, it’s everybody around you doing “stinky work,” you can set in motion the beginnings of a real disaster.

“I’m having a bad day. Please, someone help me.”

And since you know you’re having one of those bad days, and you are susceptible to making everything little too big, don’t make any decisions without asking three questions:

1. Have I done this before? Is this situation in front of me, which seems so foreign and problematic, really just an opportunity that I’ve previously handled, wearing a different hat? You will be surprised at how encouraging it is to remember former successes.

2. If this did happen before, what did I learn from it? Most people think that the brain remembers things because we see something that triggers memory. Actually the brain only remembers things when we ask it to retrieve similar occurrences. The brain is not helpful, just available. So if you don’t ask your brain to dredge up the past, it will lock it up solutions like they’re in solitary confinement. What did I learn the last time?

3. And finally, what is different with today? Occasionally something will be unique in your present dilemma. But usually not. Generally speaking, the only thing separating today’s frustration from yesterday’s clear-headedness is a bad night’s sleep, nightmares or low blood sugar. What is different?

By the time you finish asking these three magical questions, having already admitted  having a bad day, you have much less chance of turning something little into something big, distorting the image set in front of you. It is a problem we humans encounter incessantly. Therefore, it would be a good idea to have a plan of action for handling it.

Because of the rainy, drippy weather, only a handful of determined souls made it out from the Floridian rural countryside to our concert last night. I drove a long way to get there. So I was tempted to take something little–like poor attendance–and make it a big thing. Instead I asked myself the questions:

  • Have I been here before? Yes, and every time that I remained faithful, it’s always been beautiful.
  • What did I learn? Whether you and I are in front of eleven people or eleven thousand, it makes no difference if I am sharing in a bad mood. So buck up.
  • What is different? Me. I am different because now God has given me the grace to ask these miraculous questions instead of dumping bad attitude along the side of the freeway like I’m running away from town to escape an eviction notice.

You don’t need to enhance your life and you certainly don’t need to distort it. Just stop making little things big–just because you’re having a bad day.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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