Erin's Journals

Monday, January 20, 2020

Just a thought… If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]

Here in the US, this is Martin Luther King Day. As we do every day, we remember him for his wisdom, his convictions, his strength and his courage.

On another spot in the calendar – but one that is significant in its own way (read on to find out why) – those who figure these things out say that this is Blue Monday, supposedly the saddest day of the year.

Why? Because if you factor in January weather (and goodness knows it was a headline across Canada this past weekend), lack of daylight hours, post-holiday bills arriving and the realization that your best, most fervent New Year’s Resolutions might not be coming to fruition, you’re supposedly “bluer than blue, sadder than sad,” as the old song went, more so than any other day of the entire year.

I call BULL. There is nothing – no date, no weather, no worries – that can combine to make any day sadder than the next because your mood is not dictated by a date on the calendar. In fact, it’s not even a real thing – no more than bad luck can be expected on a Friday the 13th – and it’s only been going since 2005. It began, supposedly, with something put out by a travel company. Got the blues? Take a cruise! (More on that later.)

Dismissed as pseudoscience, maybe this whole Blue Monday thing is actually a chance to reset and take real stock of the way we’re feeling. More to the point, what are we going to do about it?

Change Your thoughts – Change Your Life

Just Googling that phrase shows you how many people have come up with that very idea, whether it’s “your life,” “your reality” or “your world.” It sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true.

Our thoughts are just that: thoughts. Whether we conjure scenarios that we think could happen, or might be happening, or we dwell on old conversations and wrongs (as in, what did happen), we’re poisoning our own happiness by letting those thoughts dominate our minds. I’m guilty of this: an unpleasant conversation will replay over and over in my head until I push the STOP button.

How? By changing the focus. Part of the trick is in stepping back and seeing things from a different angle; perhaps not as they really are, but as they could be. By remembering that what people say and do is far more about them than about you. Don Miguel Ruiz made this point beautifully in his book, The Four Agreements: Don’t Take it Personally.

I translate that into “It’s their movie.” We’re not starring in anyone’s show but our own; often we’re barely even making a cameo appearance. Yet it’s their screenplay – tragedy, comedy, horror movie – that is dominating our thoughts.

Is the person who’s upsetting us thinking about us at the moment that we’re lying in bed awake at night, letting their unkind or insensitive comments run on a loop in our heads? The answer is almost always NO.

The person who forgot your birthday or accused you of saying something that you most definitely didn’t say – or mean in the way that they interpreted it – is not thinking about you. They’ve moved their attention to something else: that glass of wine, the TV show they’re watching, the YouTube cat video that is making them smile. Just forget them.

If someone is wrong – whether in a ridiculous comment online or in the way that they are perceiving you – you can’t change their mind. All you can do is your best. And if that’s not good enough, there are two words for them, and they most definitely are not Happy Birthday. You get to choose.

And finally, look at what has happened to you, whether a sprained ankle, a traumatic loss (and that includes your job), or a nasty break-up, and decide what YOU are going to do about it.

Our lives are divided into Before and After: what happened prior to the event that caused you such pain, and what comes in its wake. Much of what happens in our lives is not about the actual earth-shattering event, but how we handle it. What are we going to do to keep going, to make things better?

Sometimes there is no making better what happened. But how you deal with it – whether you give up, stand up or speak up – is entirely your choice. They can’t take that away from us, no matter what we’ve suffered. We have more power and strength than we can imagine.

So that, my friend, is what I have to say about Blue Monday.

I’ll be back with you here on Thursday, but tomorrow I’ll post a special Travel Tuesday journal as we close in on the final few days of pre-cruise specials, in case you’re just thisclose to making a decision to join us in October for Thanksgiving on the Rhine.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, January 20, 2020