We Maritimers have something in common; we’re always aware of the weather. When the sun shines and the birds are singing, everyone smiles; when it’s a (rare) dull, dreary day, it’s common for folks to feel dull and dreary too.
If you’ve been reading these columns and have a sense of reality therapy principles, you probably have a pretty good idea of what’s coming. It’ll be something like, “The weather can’t make us feel good or bad. We’re in charge of that.”
It’s true, isn’t it? However, you also know that it’s not easy to simply “choose” to feel either good or bad. It’s somehow easier to feel good when the sun is shining, and easier to feel bad when something in your life—even a small thing—goes wrong. Situations, events, even the weather, all exert some influence.
For example, it’s outdoor festival and concert time here, and it’s nicer when the weather cooperates. However, unpleasant weather doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has an unpleasant time, does it?
Along with her friends, Dawnna has been anticipating going to a big concert for months. Finally, the big day arrived. It rained. Not just a nice little drizzle either, but it poured with true Maritime enthusiasm.
So, Dawnna, how was the concert? “Awesome!”
Even though you were standing in mud, with soaked hair and soggy sneakers?
“Yup. The concert was too incredible for words. Everybody was wet, but we were all laughing, singing along, carrying on. The whole experience was amazing.”
Normally, Dawnna doesn’t like to stand in mud while being rained on. In fact, if Dawnna had gotten even slightly wet by being splashed by a passing car, her feeling would be anger, not, “Awesome!” What’s the difference?
Here are two possibilities from a reality therapy perspective:
1. Reality is perceived through our filters. Dawnna had already decided to have a good time before she got to the concert. By anticipating, planning, traveling, she had, in a sense, committed herself to a good time. So instead of her usual negative perception of rain and mud, she chose to perceive those obstacles as adding to the adventure.
2. We have a need for belonging. Sharing fun, laughter and a feeling of, “We’re all in this together” can make a huge positive difference in our perceptions. For example, if Dawnna had been the only person at the concert to get wet (with everyone else in VIP covered seats), would she have had an awesome time? Not likely! Even though her reality had not changed, (she’s wet but still heard the music), feeling isolated could change her perception from “great adventure” to “miserable time.”
How might this be helpful in our regular lives?
Before you set out for work, school, or whatever, make a choice. Try deciding, “I’m going to make the best of whatever happens.” It won’t hurt; it might even help!
Do you think that how you perceive reality can change your feelings?