The Grouch Anthem
Grouches of the world unite!
Stand up for your grouchly rights!
Don’t let the sunshine spoil the rain
Just stand up and complain!

Let this be the grouches’ cause:
Point out everybody’s flaws!
Something’s wrong with everything
Except for the way I sing!

You know what’s right with this world? Nuttin!
You know what gets me hot under the collar? You name it!
And the next time some goody-two-shoes smiles and tells you to have a nice day,
just remember:

Don’t let the sunshine spoil the rain,
Just stand up and complain!

(Kwapis, 1985)

Photo submitted by Suzanne Christensen

Ever feel like Oscar, the beloved symbol of grouchiness? We all have moments, days, and sometimes weeks, when it seems like a cloud of gloominess hangs overhead. But it doesn’t have to last! We can shorten or avoid many of those “trash can” moments if we learn to sweep the clouds away with lots and lots of sunshine!

Choice

You get to choose how you are going to react to life! It doesn’t always feel that way, but it’s true. Following his horrific experience in a concentration camp, Victor Frankel wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Frankel, 1946) He witnessed people, beaten and torn from family, still reaching out in love and forgiveness. He was later able to forgive his own prison guard. Our life circumstances vary, but even in the darkest prison (maybe cells we’ve locked ourselves in), we can still choose how we will respond. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. “ (Frankel, 1946) We get to make a choice–choose to be happy despite the rain.

Perspective

“Don’t call the world dirty because you forgot to clean your glasses.” (Hill) The lens through which we look determines how we see things. Here are a few ideas that have helped me to keep a clean and clear perspective on life.

1. See the big picture. When my boys were toddlers they made frequent, life-disrupting messes. I have stumbled in the kitchen to find a smiling toddler and kitchen floor doused in sweet, sticky syrup. Another time it was chocolate syrup smeared everywhere, oatmeal wiped along the wall, powdered cake mixes opened and dusting the entire kitchen, and our entire supply of paper goods set up for a wild party. But the worst was finding eggs in random places around the house. (We invested in a Velcro fridge lock.)

My initial reaction to these disasters was feelings of anger or frustration. I decided my coping method would be to capture the guilty fridge raider and his handiwork with my camera. It didn’t feel humorous, but the immediate benefit was time to cool off. Taking those pictures helped remove me from the situation a little, and forced me to see things out of the moment. If we can pause and refocus, in the moment, often we can see the “big picture” and what really matters.

2. Gratitude. I remember visiting a bedridden friend who amazed me with her positive attitude. I left feeling grateful for independence, a body that functioned normally, and her contagious optimism. I realized if she could smile in her situation, I could smile in mine.

3. Service. Find others that need some love and encouragement (pretty much everyone) and do something to brighten their day. Thinking about others and their needs helps us to think outside of ourselves. We forget our troubles as we delight in helping others.

4. Keep a Journal. Writing down how I feel helps me to put my feelings into words. I can write down frustrations and negative perceptions, and no one has to suffer hearing me complain. Interestingly, as I pour my grievances on to paper, I often see my situation more clearly; and sometimes, I find things aren’t as bad as I thought. The other good thing about a journal is that it helps you to learn and grow from challenges. You see progress.

5. Positivity. Do you remember the “glad game” from Pollyanna? She wanted a doll, but when the donation barrel came there only a set of crutches. She was sad, but her father taught her she could feel happy because she didn’t need crutches. When life presented a challenge or unfortunate circumstance, Pollyanna looked for any speck of good she could. When life sends you something you didn’t ask for, find the good in it.

Photo submitted by Suzanne Christensen

Environment

Surround yourself with sunshine–you need a good environment to grow in! There are times when we have more control over our physical environment. Find the things you can change to make your environment as peaceful and positive as possible.
1. Find quiet.  There is so much going on around us that we need to find quiet time to think and refocus. It’s okay to turn off the electronic whatever and just have quiet. (Still looking for the mute button on yelling children.)
2. Get outside and breathe in nature. Just a little dose of sunshine goes a long way to slow us down internally.

3. Keep good company. Seek out the companionship of good friends. You need to be with people that lift you up and help you to see the good in the world. And as my mom always said, to have a friend like that, be a friend like that.

4. Take out the trash!  How do you talk to yourself? Do you treat yourself kindly? A constant stream of negative thoughts yields a constant negative attitude. Our thoughts determine what we say and do. It’s important that we keep our thoughts positive. What would you rather hear: “this is hard” or “you can do this”?

Every so often the rain will fall. Feeling frustrated is normal–it means something is not working the way you wanted. Take time to sort it out, and be patient with yourself.  You will figure out what to do. We are all trying to navigate life, and your best (with all your faults) is what you have to give. Give it freely. May the sunny days sweep those clouds away to happy people like you!

QUESTION: Could you use some more sunshine and less Oscar the Grouch in your life?

CHALLENGE: Figure out one way you can infuse some sunshine into your day today and see how you feel.

Works Cited
Frankel, V. (1946). Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press.
Hill, A. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2011, from Brainy Quotes: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/glasses.html
Kwapis, K. (Director). (1985). Sesame Street: Follow That Bird [Motion Picture].
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