Outwitting My Brain

June 16, 2009 · 6 comments

So that busy patch at work is pretty much over, for the moment.  It looks like I’ll have a few days of breathing space before I have to start busting my ass on another needs-to-get-done-in-a-month project.  Yay.  Definitely no more 12-16 hour days for this weary blogger.  I left work at like 6 today, and man, am I psyched that there were still several hours of daylight left.  I think my kayak may become a semi-permanent fixture on my car for the remainder of the warm-weather days.

As I was driving home this afternoon, I found myself drifting back into those “they don’t pay me enough money” thoughts.  Again was I looking at the houses in the neighborhoods I drive through on the way home and wondering why I don’t own an home and garden.  How I’m ever going to pay off that $100k student loan debt that can be so unbearably burdensome.  How exactly I’m going to tell my boss that he needs to give me a raise.  Et cetera. 

These are not good thoughts for this weary blogger to have.  They quickly turn into an endless loop of self-pity and get rich quick schemes – most of which involves quitting everything and starting life anew.  “If only I could move to Phoenix, everything would be fine.”  Phoenix??  wtf is in Phoenix?  Nothing, but that’s where my thoughts take me.  Join the CIA and be a covert operative, living out of a suitcase and lying to everyone.  I’m a pretty good liar, but it makes me feel icky when I do it.  So I don’t.  Too many things to remember, to paraphrase Samuel Clemens – or was it Mark Twain who said that?  And who’s speaking now – Ted Wallace or niceguyted?

Whatever.  I find it easier to maintain that zen-mindset when I’m busy as sh*t – the next right thing is always right in front of me.  I’ve always been self-mutilating when I’m not occupied.  There’s a bird like that – the grey macaw, I think.  In the wild, it’s just fine.  But in captivity it gets bored and just sits there, pulling out its feathers.  It’s supposed to be a wicked sma’t animal, too.

So this afternoon, when I started down that endless never-gonna-make it loop on the drive home, I did two things – I couldn’t tell you which one I did first – I started smiling, and I made a mental gratitude list.  And I reminded myself that all I really have is this one moment – nothing else.  And at that particular moment, I wasn’t at work busting my ass, the sun was shining, and I was driving (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite things to do).  I had Disturbed’s “The Sickness” blasting, and the windows and sunroof were all down. 

The whole smiling thing really works.  The muscles of my face remind my brain of what it’s like to be happy, so my brain opens the tap on the happy brain chemicals, and I feel better almost instantaneously.  If it doesn’t work right away, I usually start laughing, because I’m pretty sure I can outwit my brain – and I think that’s funny.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s the power of laughter.  And that power is pretty much endless – at least from what I’ve found.  It’s taken a little work (not really hard work), but I’ve managed to make laughing my immediate reaction to just about anything.  Ask my sister what the first thing I did last summer when we were walking back to her apartment from dinner in Astoria and we realized that I hadn’t left my driver’s side window open the whole time – someone had broken it and stolen my GPS.  I laughed.  Whatever.  I can always buy a new GPS (I did), and at least I still had a ride home and it wasn’t raining yet.  And, parenthetically (though I’m not going to use parentheses for this sentence), my no-sense-of-direction-having ass had been to Katie’s place enough times that I knew how to get home without needing the GPS – ha!

Anyway, to wrap up:  the physical act of smiling, coupled with the mental run-down of the things in my life I was thankful for pulled me right back from the brink of self-pity this afternoon.  Easy-peasy-jap-an-eesy.  Try it, it works – better stats than Sex Panther.  Trust me.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie Cleaver June 16, 2009 at 23:52

Okay, I’m broke but I definitely don’t have a 100k college loan outstanding. Holy cow Ted. Yes, keep smiling. Maybe they’ll forget about it. ;)

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Cheryl June 17, 2009 at 08:44

Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? (http://www.laughteryoga.org/). My BFF is an instructor. Last year when I was in town for my birthday she made me go (MADE ME GO) to one of her sessions and I LOVED it. It was great.

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Katie June 17, 2009 at 08:58

I love this post! I smiled the whole time!

Just so everyone out there know, Astoria is a safe place! That was the first time I saw a car that was broken into. Unfortunately it was Ted’s.

… and it’s true the first thing Ted did was laugh when he saw his GPS missing. We all laughed because out of everyone in the group Ted needs it the most! That night Ted came to Astoria to cheer me up. I felt so bad when his car was broken into. But he just laughed and said no worries.

My bro rules! R-O-O-L-S!!!! LOL

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BRIAN June 17, 2009 at 09:23

100K…Damn son!!! Now I’m glad kinda didn’t I finish skool. I see that you accept donations on your blog. Keep up the excellent posts and maybe you’ll get rich quick from your readers.

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Erin June 17, 2009 at 10:01

Whenever I find myself starting to loll in a self-pitiful heap, I force myself to get up and, oh I dunno, do something productive. Which always makes me feel better. Now that I know I can just smile and not worry about actually completing any tasks, I’ll be sure to grin like an idiot. ;)

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$@bs June 17, 2009 at 16:12

You need to institute The Secret in your finances!

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