Authored by T.M.
Being in my late twenties, I find it a little embarrassing to get into a funk. Most often, I’m more of a driven soul. I’ll have plenty of goals for 90 percent of the time, and then I’ll hit an unexpected speed bump.
I got into one of these funks recently, and for some reason my recovery wasn’t as quick as I wanted it to be. I’m not a hugely emotional person. I can be more practical than not, and I don’t usually have trouble motivating myself to get moving. But this time around, I was having a rough go at kicking the funk. Actually, it’s not that I even tried so hard. But I was thinking of trying, and that alone felt pretty exhausting.
Then, around this time, a good friend was visiting. She told me that a friend of hers had won a Mercedes-Benz through some kind of campaign.
First thought: I was happy. These things do happen to people within my somewhat extended world! Second thought: Where’s my Mercedes-Benz?
I wanted something like that to happen for me. It didn’t need to be a car; I’d be just as grateful to win tickets for a cruise to some exotic location. (I wouldn’t sneeze at a cash prize either!) I began checking my email with a heart full of graspy little fingers. But all that came in was a flood of promos trying to sell me things. Somewhere between my repeated inbox checking to see whether I won a prize and my disappointment in not getting anything at all, I began thinking that I really deserved a lot more happiness than what—by my calculations—I was currently receiving.
My “light bulb” moment came as I was listening to a talk given by Joyce Meyer. In her talk, she said: “Stop giving everyone else the responsibility of making [you] happy. My life changed dramatically when I stopped giving someone else the responsibility to make me happy, and just decided I’m gonna be happy. I’m going to do things for me that make me happy. Not in an out-of-balance way; I do a lot of things for other people. I love to give; it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to watch for what people need and try to meet those needs. But I found out that I was starting to get bitter and resentful. ‘Well, what about me? What about me? What about me?’ I sang that same old sad song for so long, I bet God was like, ‘Not again! Please, I don’t want to hear it!’ Today we are wiping out all excuses. If something needs to be done for you, and no one else is doing it, then do it yourself.”1
I realized that I had been waiting for someone to come around and fix things for me and/or make me happy. But I needed to stop making my happiness, my contentment, my level of satisfaction and fulfillment that I received from life someone else’s job. The climb out of my slump began pretty much right after this point, but it was still a process, and along the way I hit on a few other simple thoughts. These were questions I asked myself and ideas for action that helped me, which may also help you if you’re going through something similar:
—Ask yourself: What can today teach me? What can I learn from right now? Quite often I’ll get absorbed by things I’m looking forward to, and when they don’t come my way as quickly as I’d like, I get impatient. Focusing on the present moment, absorbing yourself in what you are doing today and what new thing you are learning, can help you ride out those times when you feel like your life is just being spent waiting for the exciting parts to happen. Someone put it like this: “Learn something new every day. For if you don’t, that’s a wasted day. And life is too short for a string of wasted days.”
—Introduce one new thing into your day. It doesn’t have to be big. Try out a new flavor of tea, mix up your music playlist, listen to a podcast. Do something new. It’s easy to get into ruts in how you view yourself, in your likes and dislikes, and even what you think you are capable of. I’m like that a lot of the time, but every now and then I get the urge to do something—anything—new. And I’ll usually surprise myself by finding out that I now have a new favorite thing, or that I might even be good at some oddball skill. Added bonus: You’ll end up feeling just a smidgeon more courageous than you did when you started your day.
—Get outside. Exercise. Take care of yourself. That’s no one’s business but your own, and no one is going to make healthy choices for you. This is part of the business of growing up.
—Pray for others. Stretch your heart. When I’m thinking and praying for friends and family, I’m not spending that time worrying about myself. The blessings of doing this really are twofold: I send blessings to others; I stress less.
—Be grateful. I won’t get into the many benefits here, as I’m sure you know there are many. But I will share how I fit gratitude into my day. I work at a desk most days, and on the wall in front of my desk, I installed a ledge for pictures and knickknacks. I place there things that are important to me, that fill my heart with warm fuzzy feelings: a picture of a nephew, a family portrait, ticket stubs from a vacation, postcards from friends, handmade crafts from little fingers. It has become my “gratitude wall.” Find a way to make being grateful easy, beautiful, and always just in reach.
For a while after I realized I was in a funk, I began talking about it with a few close friends. “I’m in a funk…” I’d say. And I’d immediately feel excused for any displays of slackness in my life. But I soon realized that saying that I was in a funk, or even talking about being down with well-intentioned friends didn’t heal me; it didn’t bring me back to a place of motivation and moving forward. Deciding I wanted to move forward and that I quite had enough of that state is what helped me to get out of funkville.
1 Joyce Meyer, “How to Take Care of Yourself.”
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2012 by The Family International