As a writer, I’ve always had an affection for words, and more recently, memes. A friend posted one the other day that caught my eye and reminded me to write about how our thoughts become things.

The meme said, “What it a bad day? Or was it a bad five minutes that you milked all day?”. This perfectly captured what I recently witnessed happening with a friend (and I’ve been guilty of myself).

I’m running right on time and pull in to park by my friends shop at 3:00 p.m. on the dot. I see four other cars and I get the premonition that this won’t be a quick appointment. I walk in and the energy in the room just about sucked the life out of me. My friend runs over, hugs me and exclaims, “My entire day was ruined! My Dad was having a tough time this morning. For 10 minutes I tried to calm him down over the phone, and talk to the nurses about him. I’ve been running behind ever since.” She looked completely worn out, sad and exhausted.

The episode with her Dad happened around 8:00 a.m. All day, each time she told the story to everyone who came into her shop, she brought up all the sad and bad feelings, re-enacting what took place. In other words, she milked a bad 10 minutes for over 10 hours. Talk about a bad day!

Having dealt with similar situations with my Dad as he aged, I could completely empathize. The difference is in how we handle this kind of challenge or anything that sets us off on the wrong foot. I told her I was sorry about how her day started out and reminded her that he had so much more good moments than bad. And then gave her an extra big hug.

This is another area of myself I’ve been working on – examining how I ‘choose’ to react in these situations. (Yes, it’s a choice.) In the moment of something unpleasant happening, I still have fleeting moments of feeling sad, angry, and frustrated and then within moments I most often (hey, I’m not perfect, just a human in training) choose to change the storyline that’s running in my head. You can do it too! Here are a few examples to consider.

For the scenario above: After briefly mentioning her Dad had a tough time this morning, she could have then shifted to say how grateful she is that he is in decent health at over 90 years old, how excited he was to see her a few days ago, and then share a funny story about something he said during their visit. This would have completely changed the energy she was putting out into everyone’s else world and on her own. This technique can put a smile on your face, rather than the frown. You don’t feel dis-ease all day long. Get it?

When you’re driving and a car cuts you off: What feels better? Going into road rage mode, hitting your horn, giving them the finger, yelling at them, and then putting the pedal to the metal to cut them off and get even… (I may or may not be guilty of this on occasion.) Or, thinking how you feel sorry for that driver who may be struggling with life challenges (financial struggles, health issues, whatever) and hope that their day gets easier? Try it. Notice how road raging feels – you’re angry, your muscles tighten up, and your body goes into stress mode. Or, you send them off with good vibes and go about your day, happy as a clam.

We all have heard the adage, ‘life is too short’. Think about it. How do you want to spend the remaining minutes, hours and days of your life? Our thoughts do become things. Why not think happy ones?

Susan XO