Last week, I fought the crowds and the crowds won. My birthday was in the recent past; therefore, my husband wanted to take me out and buy me plants for my indoor garden. We boarded a bus that took us to the train station. We caught the train to Mong Kok, which is literally one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Too many people, too small a space. Jostling shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, we made our way from the Mong Kok station to the outdoor market. Arriving, we carefully moved along with the crowds down the side street blocked off for through traffic. Christmas shoppers were out in force. The small shops were buzzing with customers and the already narrow aisles were packed. Walking sideways, trying to make myself smaller, we entered a few to look around. I think the crowds made the staff of the stores nervous: too many people in too small a space. I was yelled at twice. I suppose I looked suspicious and might steal something? Stalls of vendors on both sides of the street itself sold clothing and holiday items. We quickly looked, then shuffled among the masses to the shops selling plants.
Purchasing my gorgeous plants, I felt a moment of joyful bliss. But then we jostled our way back to the train station for our journey home. On our way through the station, a random stranger yelled an insult at us and laughed with their companion. Confused at the outburst, we continued on only to remember we were traveling at the worst possible time. The dreaded “rush hour.” With no other option, we lined up to board the train. The lines to get on the train were thick and long. Most people here queue up, but there are always some who don’t. They push their way in at the sides adding chaos to the mix. When the train arrived, the mad scramble ensued. In small shuffling footsteps, our fronts pressed to the back of the person ahead of us, we boarded. During rush hour, there is no need to hold the handrails on the train. The person to your right and left, as well as to your immediate front and back, stand so close you won’t fall down.
Christmas decorations that I normally enjoy were up. I was with my husband for a birthday outing and my new plants were a welcome addition to my garden. However, I felt sorely disgruntled. The crowds, the jostling, being yelled at, the insult, and the body to body train ride caused a discontent even angry cycle to begin within my spirit. Feelings of unhappiness with life, in general, crept in. I went from being annoyed with the incidents of the day to being disgruntled with my entire life. From “my day stunk” to “my life stinks.” I fully recognize that this sounds dramatic, but if we’re honest we’ve all done this? Is it just me?
My disgruntled heart stole my joy though. Later that evening, my daughter came home excited. She had ordered Christmas decorations for our flat and was waiting for them to arrive to surprise us. Because the disgruntled me was in full bloom, I didn’t appreciate her gifts. I barely acknowledged them. I didn’t respond to her joy. My mind was too busy obsessing about the events of the day. I, therefore, missed out on an opportunity to experience joy and poured cold water on my daughter’s joy as well.
I asked myself,
“Who gets hurt by my disgruntled heart?”
Me. It steals my joy and drags my feet, weighing me down.
My loved ones. They get to experience the downcast, even angry me.
It is far too easy to allow a difficult incident or day affect my mood and drain my energy. I wish it weren’t the case. I suppose it stems from situations that are not within my control. I certainly don’t like that. It’s easy to allow my mind to ruminate on the bad. But, like most everything else in life; it’s about choice. I can choose to obsess or I can choose to let things go; to let the bad roll off. I go a little crazy carrying around things I should let go. If there is nothing I can do to fix or change a situation, if all there is to do is complain and obsess about it, then it’s time to let it go. It sounds simple, but not always easy.
To paraphrase a quote by Alfred Adler, sometimes we need to, “Fake it until we feel it.” Letting go is an exercise that takes intention. Our circumstances may not change, but our attitude and our mood is our choice. We may be stuck with a difficult situation, but we can choose how we ultimately feel about it.
During the holiday season especially, when stress and a bit of chaos is a reality, a wonderful gift to give ourselves and our loved ones is choosing to let things go and moving towards a peaceful mind and a joyful heart.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” ~ William James
Hope you have a very joyful, blessed Christmas!