Today’s crankiness crusher: I was honored to write a guest post about what motivated me to start my blog for an inspirational new magazine blog called A Hopeful Sign. Their mission is to spread hope through living-learning-leading and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!
Originally posted on A Hopeful Sign on June 26th, 2011:
Even when there's lots of icky stuff happening around you, there's always a reason to smile.
How Mama Got Her Happy Groove Back.
crank·y [krang-kee]–adjective, crank·i·er, crank·i·est. 1. ill-tempered; grouchy; cross: I’m always cranky when I don’t get enough sleep.
Yep, this definition pretty much sums up how I was feeling most of the time: Cross, grouchy, and in a semi-permanent state of aggravation. I grappled with these negative feelings, especially since I’m usually the person who people turn to when they need a pick-me-up! Always a people-pleaser, I didn’t want to let my friends down, so I became a somewhat “closeted grump”—meaning that I’d still smile brightly and say, “I’m doing great!” when others asked me how I was doing, but on the inside I felt uninspired, blah, and to be honest, kind of bitchy!
As a mom of two kids under 5, I was growing more and more exhausted by my overwhelming to-do list and the constant multi-tasking yet lack of productivity. I was trying to be the perfect stay-at-home mother, while also freelance writing from home, which meant that I was usually up to the wee hours of the night trying to finish assignments. The lack of sleep made me irritable, and I also felt bummed out that my career wasn’t going the way I’d hoped. Then I’d feel guilty for fretting about my professional status instead of being appreciative that I could stay at home with my kids, and the vicious crankiness cycle continued.
Luckily, something happened one Saturday morning in March that made me view life from a healthier perspective. I was driving my 4 ½-year-old to swim lessons, and as we crossed over the bridge into the next town, I pointed out how pretty the river looked with the sun reflecting off of it. My son agreed, but said that he likes it more when the sun sets “because it’s orange”. When I told my husband about our exchange, he replied, “Who doesn’t appreciate a good sunset?” And as I sipped my coffee, their combined comments got me thinking about happiness, and how refreshingly easy it is to feel a moment of joy when you look at or think about something you like. The key is to appreciate it while it’s happening and to embrace those feelings of hope and optimism, as well as the contentment it brings.
I used to write a monthly column for a national women’s magazine called “Time for You”, and on that page I’d list 5 things to be happy about. While it was sometimes challenging to come up with these cheery little nuggets, I always smiled while reviewing the final list each month. With that in mind, I decided to start a blog that would encourage me to feel the same way. I desperately needed to learn how to focus on the good in each day so that I could start chipping away at my alter ego who I comically refer to as the evil Dr. Crankenstein. Over the last four months I’ve been writing about something specific that crushed out my crankiness. Chronicling these experiences has been cathartic. As a writer, it satisfied my need to get things down. I’ve been able to reveal the rawest parts of myself and take my crankiness out of the closet, and hopefully help others deal with their own.
The Crankiness Crusher blog is not so much about maintaining a constant good mood, but more about remembering to look for and appreciate the happy in each day—even if it’s something small like a freshly-mowed lawn, your favorite summer song on the radio, or eating an ice cream cone with your family. When you’re encouraged to find at least one good thing that happens daily, that positive thought can make you feel saner, more balanced, and less blah.
Throughout my anti-crankiness journey, I’ve realized that when you’re not uber crabby, it’s much easier to deal with minor annoyances and issues. It’s also made me feel more generous, forgiving, and compassionate. As a mom, I’ve had more energy and the emotional balance to tackle things that would normally set me off (like the perpetual whininess in my household!). The truth is, when you’re happy, you’re empowered to be a better person. And who doesn’t strive for that? I hope you’ll consider joining me on this mission. Let’s crush the crank together!
Tara Rummell Berson is freelance writer who lives in Middletown, New Jersey with her husband, two kids, and dog. Not surprisingly, she’s always looking to find simple ways to be happy/grateful/not cranky on a daily basis. You can find her at crankinesscrusher.com, on Twitter at @crankycrusher, or you can join her anti-crankiness community on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/crankinesscrusher.