Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Advice for dealing with people in bad moods
I was in a lousy mood Sunday. I’d allowed the holy blessing of dealing with my mother’s dementia to feel momentarily burdensome, I was fatigued by persistent professional failings and, yeah, I’d once again lost the stupid lawn mowing challenge.
So I was in a bad mood.
Then it got worse.
My 16-year-old daughter asked, “So why are you in such a bad mood?”
The nerve. Of course, her keen insight made me seethe and demolished what little chance there was of a happy family night.
I sulked. Slammed doors. Felt sorry for myself and generally behaved like adults stereotypically expect 16-year-old girls to behave.
I spent a lot of time wondering why her accurate diagnosis lit my fuse.
She wasn’t being rude, but asking someone if they’re in a bad mood is a sure way to put anyone in a bad mood.
Really, she should have offered a soulful solution — and that we sometimes expect more from our children than we expect from ourselves is a topic for another day.
“What you need to do next time you sense I’m in a bad mood,” I said, “is offer an incentive to brighten my mood. Say, ‘You seem like you’re having a bad day. Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?’”
There are thousands of ways a dear daughter can do this for a father or you can do it it for a grumpy friend.
She could have said I look like I’ve lost weight, slept well and that my growing concerns about the need for hair plugs were unfounded. She could have said things were bound to get better, it was a nice day to golf or that next year I’d certainly win the annual no-mow lawn contest.
Any positive — even fibs — surpasses any negative.
My wife is actually very good at this without, I think, even being aware of it.
She knows when I’m acting like an asshole, but never stoops to the gracelessness of saying, “Hey, asshole! You’re harshing everyone’s buzz. Snap out of it!”
I’ll never forget the time we had a huge blow up about something I’ve long since forgotten. But I do recall one memorable fact: I was leaving for work.
Yes, it was one of the eight days in 2014 when I’d been summoned to tend bar at old The Pond. So there are elements to this story akin to observing a solar eclipse from the back of a unicorn.
My Saturday shift had yet to begin and I was having a drink at the bar, understanding as I did the necessity of being liquored up before I began liquoring up friends and strangers.
When I saw her come through the door I tensed up believing she was eager to resume hostilities in public.
That was not her intention. She smiled, sat next to me and asked Dave for a Yuengling. Her smile conveyed everything was going to be all right and in an instant reminded me why I fell in love with her in the first place.
She took a sad song and made it better.
We could learn a lot from Val.
These are contentious times. It’s easy to get down, to let the news sour your disposition, to fall into a mood so bad it practically gives off a stink.
You know someone who right now is in a bad mood and you have the power to do something positive about it.
What are you waiting for?
Changing the world is a daunting task. Start by changing one mood.
Thank you for reading. I must say, you look wonderful. Have you lost weight?