Soooo….this past weekend, I got some kind of bad news. It wasn’t awful, but it was enough of a bummer that I spent the next day and a half trying to cheer myself up. I wasn’t successful… at first… but I tell you more about that after I’ll tell you about my bad news. You know… for fun.
First, you need some back-story (of course). In October, I was cruising down my street on the way to meet a friend. I was off of work, and so I was feeling pretty jazzed about the pending weekend. Now it is important for me to tell you that this street, where I live, is very narrow and is always packed with parked cars (many of which have the side-view mirrors pro-actively folded in – it’s that kind of narrow). So there I was, minding my own business, driving down this narrow little street, full of energy and happiness… if you’ve ever seen the movie Enchanted, and you know the character Gisele played by Amy Adams, you have a good idea of my head space that afternoon. I think I might have even been singing “That’s How You Know.” Not really. Okay, maybe.
And then… “BAM!” – a loud thud on the side of my car. First thought was that I had hit a mirror of a parked car, and I stopped and jumped out of my car to try to figure out what had just happened. And there, standing outside of her brand new Prius, was a young woman looking at a damaged car door. Not awesome. And bye-bye Gisele.
When I spoke with my insurance company, the rep assured me that based on California laws (statutes, whatever) the other driver was at fault because the onus is on the parked driver to make sure it is safe to open the door before doing so. Upon hearing that, I felt relieved — probably mostly because it’s not fun being wrong. However, over the next few months, and some back-and-forth between the two insurance companies, and it became clear that this wasn’t going to be an open-and-shut case. And then it was sent to arbitration. Now you are up-to-date.
This past Friday, my insurance rep called me with a sort of “off” sound in her voice – you probably know it… the kind of tone that is designed to prepare the listener for impending bad news. As I listened to her, I started to predict that it meant the arbitrator hadn’t decided fully in my favor — that the fault was going to be split… maybe 10% my fault, 90% the other driver’s fault or 40/60 or 60/40 – you get the idea. And then I heard her say the arbitrator had decided 100% in favor of the other driver. What?!
Now in no way is this the end of the world, but I am not going to lie… it didn’t feel great hearing that, and I was somewhat shocked. I just didn’t get it. Wasn’t the law on my side? Couldn’t they see the way the damage was on both of our cars that this was clearly a case of the other driver opening her car door into me as I was passing? Doesn’t the arbitrator know that I recycle and donate to charity and have a rescue dog? You may or may not be surprised to learn that the answer to all of those questions is “no.” It was a decision that I was going to have to accept. Sigh.
And it was bumming me out. For so many reasons. First, there were the self-absorbed anxiety thoughts: “Why did this happen to me? Is it karmic retribution for some unkind thing I did in past?” Next, there were the snowball-effect thoughts: “If this kind of unfair thing can happen, then other things can go wrong, too!” And then there were “I really need a hug right now” thoughts. In spite of or because of this chorus of mental noise, I really was trying hard to comfort and reassure myself. “It’s not so bad… at least I can afford the deductible… no one got hurt, it’s over now, etc., etc.,” but it just wasn’t working.
Now, I’ve done a fair amount of personal growth work in my life and have learned a thing or two about the “negative-feelings situation.” One of the things widely accepted in the world of psychology is that our thoughts create our feelings – not the other way around. And often those thoughts are not facts – they are no more real or true than “The Tooth Fairy is a real-live person” or “The sun goes around the moon.” So if a person can really identify and question the thoughts he or she is having when a negative feeling appears, it’s possible to have a real chance of turning that feeling around to something that feels… better – if even just a little. The other thing that is known is that gratitude is almost magical when it comes to shifting feelings.
So, because I really, really, really wanted to get over it and feel better about this whole dumb thing, I decided to combine both of these tricks with my made-up exercise 100 Thank Yous. My list of 100 things I am grateful for was created just as I was writing this blog – 100% off the top of my head. It is about as fresh as gratitude gets. Here they are, in no particular order:
100 Thank Yous
That was actually fun, and I really do feel better. I cannot recommend this exercise highly enough – whether you are having a good day or a bad day, but especially if you are having a bad day. Try the gift of 100 Thank Yous. Would love to hear if you do it and what your experience with it was. ♥
City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.
What if, instead of the Twelve Days of Christmas, we had the Twelve Days of…
“Happy” Election Day! (If I could, I would insert the eye-roll emoji here.) 😉