May we be happy.

Ask my children what two things they’ve heard me say over and over and over and over again, since they were in kindergarten, and they’ll most likely answer:

  1. Don’t drink a drink you didn’t see getting poured.
  2. You choose how you feel.

I’ll leave the first one for discussion another time, and focus today on the second: You choose how you feel.

When my children were little and would say something like, “You make me so mad!” I would respond by saying, “You are choosing to feel mad.” How’s that for shitty mothering?

What I would say now — what I do now say differently to them, to myself, and on rare occasions to other people who are not in my family — is this: Recognize the feeling you’re feeling, and then choose what you will do about it.

Learning to recognize and then name your own private feelings is an awesome skill. It’s liberating in ways that are hard to imagine if you haven’t yet tried the practice. No, I’m not going to link to articles or videos about how to do that. Suffice to say there are many to be found at the stoke of a Google search. I might advise, though, starting by talking with an actual therapist to get started. It’s one of the best holiday gifts you can give yourself.

And if you get curious about recognizing and naming feelings, then you might even dip your toe into a bit of easy meditation with a Metta prayer. (Nope, no links; you’ll have to look it up on your own. You can do it.)

What does that have to do with the December Sanity Journal and not losing your fucking mind in December? Well, if you downloaded the journal and flipped through the pages, then you’ve probably noticed that there are multiple pages that look similar to page 3:

And yes, if I were going to go back and edit and improve upon the journal, I’d fix this page (and the others like it) to read: “Name one real person who makes you choose to feel this feeling….”

I started with “Happy” because it’s always a good place to start, and also I figured if we started out doing something fairly easy then you might be more willing to do some of the later ones that might be slightly more challenging.

Why “name a person” instead of “name something”? Hmmm. Gonna let you think about that one all on your own. We might revisit the topic another day.

And I know, I know: Today’s December 5th, day 5, not December 3rd, day 3. But I didn’t have this out an available until yesterday, so I’m getting us all caught up here.

What is on Day 5, today?

It’s a keeper, this day 5. Print it out and stick it on a wall so you can see it throughout the day. Every time you see this piece of paper, do the work. More standing and stretching, less sitting and stressing. Deal?

One thing that might happen when you stand up and stretch? You might start feeling less stuck, if “stuck” is how you’ve been choosing to feel, without realizing it.

And now I’ll make an inelegant attempt to bridge the two ideas here. Earlier in the week a friend sent a link to this article, which is and isn’t about Peloton. I mean, it is. But it isn’t. When I read it, I was able to recognize a feeling I’ve been feeling without giving it this specific name: STUCK.

Later that same day I was meeting with some of colleagues at work, one of whom is a therapist, to talk about plans and scheduling for 2022. The therapist said something to the effect of: I think we need to stop saying “after the pandemic,” or “when the pandemic ends,” because that’s not really helping anyone move forward.

Yep. Stuck. Waiting. Stuck.

And now that I’ve named it, I can choose how to respond to the feeling. I’m starting with a good stand-up-and-stretch, to help get unstuck. Give it a try yourself, how about?

See you tomorrow.

Postscript:

A new year is coming, and maybe you’re looking for a calendar to go with it? Like everything else, this one’s late, but I finally have a ship date for the 2022 desk calendar. This year’s edition looks very different from the last three years. Reinvention. Here’s a peek.