Welcome to Day 1 of my 31-day blogging streak! Not sure what I’m talking about? Click here!
Lately I have been remembering a mantra I was once so inspired by. I can’t remember what brought it back to me, but I was disappointed to realize I’d forgotten it all these years.
When I was in AmeriCorps NCCC (more on that later this month), one of my teammates Blake and I became very close friends. We bonded over the fact that we were both Iowa kids, and the friendship we had got us through some memorable highs and lows during our 10-month service in NCCC.
One of those memorable lows came when our team was stationed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the beginning months of 2011, doing taxes for low-income families and living out of a defunct old rec center during a particularly harsh winter. Blake had a friend back home who had severe cancer and was in bad shape, until finally… I still vividly remember the evening our team was eating dinner around our plastic table in the rec center and Blake got the dreaded call from his mom back in Iowa.
Despite the tragedy, when Blake spoke of his friend he spoke not of a sad figure but of someone who was upbeat and inspiring. Blake always wore a black bracelet with the words “JUST TRY AND RUIN MY DAY” etched into it in golden yellow lettering (Iowa Hawkeye colors). Blake showed me the bracelet when he talked about his friend, explaining to me that this had been his friend’s motto while living with cancer and it had inspired friends and family so much they had these bracelets made to carry it with them. Just try and ruin my day.
It’s humbling and inspiring that someone in the most dire circumstances can have such a headstrong, positive attitude while the rest of us take so much for granted. It makes me take stock of my attitude and gain some perspective on the way I approach my life.
A positive attitude – joy, self-love, empathy, compassion, gratitude, all rolled into one – is a gift. Anything or anyone I allow to ruin my day, I’m really allowing to take that gift away from me. My day and my good vibes are precious, and they’re mine. I owe it to myself and the world around me to not let shitty circumstances or thoughtless people make me feel bad about myself, my life, or the day I’ve been gifted. If I give them that power, they win. And they don’t deserve that.
Sure, we are all human and sometimes it’s hard not to let things get us down. But it’s a battle out there. It’s a series of head-to-head, knock-down-drag-out grudge matches between me and the rude, mean people I may encounter in work settings or public places; me and the social media image rat-race and the dark parts of humanity I see in internet comments sections; me and the friend or coworker who won’t give me the time of day; me and the constant barrage of violence and sadness on the news; me and sleeping through my alarm then missing the bus then coming into the office and being greeted first thing by a mini-crisis; me and the unrelenting PMS that’s turning an entire week into one long, drawn-out bad mood.
So to all those formidable foes, I say:
Just try and ruin my day.