Stop "Fixing Your Attitude" and Do Something
I woke up to my phone buzzing violently against the hard plastic picnic table that is my makeshift computer desk across the room. I put it there because I thought it might help me get out of bed if it annoyed me enough. By the time I removed my body from the warm cocoon of blankets and scuffled across the cold tile to turn my alarm off, I figured my senses would have been assaulted enough to wake me up for good. It worked. My thumb impulsively slid across the screen to turn off the alarm and I once again scuffled across the cold tile to my bathroom to get a hot shower going. As the water pours over my head I began thinking... thinking... dreaming... crap I totally just fell asleep standing up in the shower! I didn't even know that was possible...
My "apartment" is a beautifully renovated boat port detached from the main house so I have to cross the car port to get inside if I want breakfast. After my shower, I get dressed and open my door only to be blasted by the icy cold. Note to self: walk across wearing a jacket. After rummaging through the cabinets and refrigerator I determined there was nothing quick and easy to eat so I made a cup of coffee for myself before heading out to work. Prior to having "big boy jobs" I had always worked for myself. I didn't have to drive anywhere, I could wear my sweats if I wanted to and wake up at ten if it fit my schedule better. Not so anymore! For the first time in my life, I am waking up early, wearing button down shirts and combating the nut jobs of rush hour traffic every. single. morning. Climbing into my cold car, I crank the engine and immediately begin looking for a radio station that wasn't talking about what was happening on Wall Street that morning. Tougher than I expected.
This is what the first hour and a half of my morning looked like about two weeks ago. Inconveniences came out of the woodworks to make sure the first 90 minutes of my day was unpleasantly disrupted. Life is riddled with inconveniences, aggravations, disappointments and catastrophes - they're unavoidable. And while we may confront challenges on the daily, the only detail over which we have control is our reactions to them. You've surely heard this before - that you need to change your attitude because your attitude will shape your perception and you have to learn how to see things as being a growth period bla bla bla. That's great for philosophers and monks but for the average Joe, we don't have time to analyze the little inconveniences and figure out how we can turn it into a positive piece of our life's puzzle. What can we DO to turn these things around?
I could have just brushed it off and said "no big deal." That's what "Chill Bill" might have done but waking up to an irritating vibrating noise isn't brush-off-able. That sort of thing will ruin a day! I also could have seen each of these irritations as the growing pains of entering the real world. They're a part of the beautiful journey of adulthood that should be seen as a testing period to build character. Building character... not a phrase that incites joy in most kids. Finally, I decided I was tired of forcing myself to think positive about crappy situations at 7:00am. It was time to take action.
I began by putting a pair of gym shorts underneath my phone so that, while it was still across the room, the music woke me up pleasantly instead of jolting me out of my dreams leaving my nerves raw and violated. I'll think of a more elegant solution later but for now, I'm a happier person in the morning thanks to those gym shorts.
Next, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to stop falling asleep in the shower. That couldn't be good. So I killed three birds with one stone and gave myself an agenda:
a) Start the morning off with prayer: The shower was a perfect place to do this. No distractions, a comfortable setting and the hot water drilling into the back of my head tends to help me think quite well (should I be concerned?).
b) Think through my day: Five minutes of forward-thinking on the day does wonders to help you conserve your mental stamina. We only have a certain amount of decision making power throughout the day before we emotionally burn out. This is why we just want to binge watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S when we get home from work (thanks Netflix!). Spending five minutes to anticipate the day helps to mute some of those decisions throughout the day allowing you to remain ahead of the game and alert. Meditation is another great option I have experimented with though I decided not to do that in the shower because I'd likely fall asleep again. If you're interested, however, I'd recommend Calm's Guided Meditation.
c) Have fun: Your morning is an incredibly valuable part of your day because it often dictates the rest of the day. Wake up in a crappy mood, fail in some way early on, get disrupted from your routine... all of these things can involuntarily set a negative tone for the day. By giving yourself a small win - an enjoyable shower - early on, you give yourself a greater likelihood of setting a positive tone for the day. Sing out loud, stretch, pray, meditate, drink tea/coffee (Yes, IN the shower! It's wonderful, I promise.). Get creative! How can you give yourself a small win first thing in the morning? Leave your suggestions in the comments - we all want to hear =)
Because I don't want to eat Poptarts every morning for the rest of my life, I decided I wanted to get in the routine of cooking breakfast each morning. Now, instead of rummaging through the cabinet for something quick and easy, I break out the eggs, toast, honey and coffee. This little routine is enjoyable because:
a) Cooking something in the morning gives me the feeling that I'm starting my day off in a productive manner instead of a lazy one.
b) I get to visit with my dad for a few minutes while I'm cooking breakfast because he leaves for work just before me.
c) The smell of fried eggs is seriously the perfect morning smell. Bacon could make it better but I don't have time for it right now... maybe I'll try to work that in somehow.
This little morning routine went from irritating me because I couldn't find something to eat to wholesome because I'm a MAN and I'm frying my own eggs and e'rthing!
I'm a huge fan of Winter. It's way better than summer. But I don't like wearing a coat when I'm driving - it's bulky and gets in the way. Plus, even with a coat on, the cold in your car always seems to penetrate every layer of fabric you could possibly put on. So I began cranking my car 5 minutes before I leave and cranking the heater all the way up. By the time I have to leave I actually LOOK FORWARD to the toasty drive to work.
Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic (and Bad Radio)
Obviously, rush hour traffic sucks. No one really disputes that as far as I know. That's why we have entire radio segments dedicated to telling you which route to take to avoid traffic (thank you, Ray Romero). I needed some way to enjoy that hectic drive to work without turning it into a game of bumper cars (as fun as that would be!). For the past year or so, I have been obsessed with podcasts. I listen to them more than music now days. You can listen to comedy, history, business, stories, interviews... there's an endless amount of interesting, entertaining, free content out there for you and it's as simple as downloading it to your phone. One morning I loaded up my phone with some new podcasts and though I arrived to work on time, I walked in late because I sat in my car finishing up my podcast because I didn't want to turn it off! Instead of driving like a mad man and running the risk of pulling out all my hair before work, now I secretly hope the traffic is terrible so I have an excuse to listen to more podcasts in my toasty car!
If you're interested, here are a few of my favorites. I don't get paid for recommending these (though I totally should!).
Well folks, there's my story. At least an hour and a half of it. I hope that it will inspire you to take action against the little irritations of the day. Sometimes, you'll find yourself thoroughly enjoying what you used to hate! If you implement some creative solutions, leave a comment below, we'd love to hear what you came up with!
P.S. - This doesn't make bad attitudes excusable. We should continue to work on our perspective and our attitude. This just helps ;)
Jacob Jolibois is the founder of The Archer's Guild. He has a habit of starting a large number of projects and is oddly enthusiastic about Disney. Ultimately, he's hoping to rid the world of mediocrity, lots of people at a time (one is too slow). Recently, he backpacked across 11 countries with Micah Webber.