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Yesterday, ugh!

I woke up to a dark-gray, iced-over morning…with a headache…and deadlines…and too little sleep.

Commence Pity-fest 2011. Starring me.

Then, I did something I rarely do first thing in the morning. I checked my feed-reader and saw this post—Totally Stuck or Having a Blast—from John Winsor about how he and his son’s got stuck…in a snowstorm…in awful traffic…on their way to ski…then their alternator died…and it took 2 hours for the tow truck to arrive…and they had the time of their lives.


Circumstances are opportunities to define outcomes, they are not the outcomes themselves.

Then, I meditated and watched this…

I still had a headache. I was still tired. The weather still sucked.

But, I was okay with the world (could also have been the latte kicking in).

So, I’m wondering:

Do you have your own mechanism to step outside of yourself and assess whether you are being led by your world or you’re leading it?

What is that mechanism?

And, how do YOU re-frame and move on, once it’s been triggered?

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61 responses

61 responses to “Grumpy?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by remarkablogger, Alisa Bowman, Santi Chacon and others. Santi Chacon said: Grumpy?: Yesterday, ugh!I woke up to a dark-gray, iced-over morning…with a headache…and deadlines…and too little… […]

  2. Nice Jonathan,
    I appreciated this as it is “misting” for the third straight day, the wife is sick, we were late out the door to get the kids to school, and the surf is flat.

    Snickering and getting on the Goof Board for some living room surfing while brainstorming.


  3. Johnathan, thanks for posting this. Great reminder for those of us who work at home or are not co-located.

    It’s easy to let the weather or any other “home” related incident take your joy. What’s not as easy is stepping outside of oneself to assess who’s in charge! Working from home can be isolating, but building a people network” through social media and other outlets can help.

    When my walls seem to be closing in, I Skype with one of my closest virtual pals. Just yesterday, I passed a hilarious Youtube clip round my e-mail loop. The comments I received helped me feel “connected” again.

    • Vicki says:

      Don’t knock the “working at home” thing. My worst days are the ones where I have to go into the office. Fluorescent lights. Distraction,. Noise. The walls are closing in. I’d much rather be “isolated” at home with real windows and my cats.

      Next time you feel isolated working from home, think of me on one of the days when I “have to be” in the office and consider all the things you’re missing aren’t what you might think!

  4. I do regular volunteer work, recording talking books for the visually impaired, so whenever I’m feeling whiny or hard-done by, I think about the clients we help create books for and how challenging it is for them to do the simplest things that I barely even think about, and then say to myself: “Hey! You can see, remember? How bad is your problem, really comparatively?!”

    After that, I usually start feeling pretty fortunate and blessed. Once I have the perspective back in focus, rotten weather [I live in Canada], miserable traffic, or crabby baristas just don’t bother me that much anymore.

  5. Johnathan – I watched not only the video you linked in but several others of those three kids. What a wonderful way to bring a smile.

    Our household was fraught with stress and short tempers all around this morning. One way to help is to stop and give hugs. Real hugs. One’s that last more than 3 seconds and have the ability to help your body kick in with good hormones, not just the bad ones.

    Sometimes when you least feel like hugging a person, that’s the time you most need it. Can’t say my spouse what quite in happy land (need to pick up the phone and continue our conversation without the kids around) but he girls both headed off to school with smiles on their faces. Much different an 15 mins earlier….way different.

    When you are in a bad mood, helping to find things to be thankful for, sharing love, and just connecting with people helps I have found.

    Be well everyone. Here’s a virtual hug sent to all of you.

  6. eKathy says:

    When I need to reframe: I do the grump walk. I march up and down chanting “grump, grump, grump, grump.” My arms swing and my knees lift. Before I have taken too many steps I am feeling so ridiculous that I am laughing out loud. I have a shot of happy in my bloodstream and am ready to move on.

    Thanks for today’s post.

  7. Fab Lis says:

    Gratitude list – I try to come up with at least 5 things I am grateful for. Or on really bad days I start with how much worse it could be… Thanks for your posts Jonathan!

    • Annette says:

      Completely agree. Have done one this morning and I looked at it and felt really lucky. 🙂

    • Fab Lis: I like Gratitude lists, too. During November, I gave myself a Gratitude Challenge: Every morning, I listed 10 things for which I’m grateful. By month’s end, I had a hefty list of 300. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Fab Lis says:

        Jeffrey Davis: 10 a day for a whole month, that’s impressive! And, I imagine, makes you feel pretty darn good to be alive… thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Joe Dixon says:

    Jonathan, this is a great post. The video is great fun!

    Reframing really is very powerful. I’m a huge fan. Last night I had a bit of a moment with a bookcase I was trying to assemble. I allowed it to make me irritable. Nothing in the world seemed to be going in my favour.

    Then, I got into bed with my wife and started reading Life of Pi aloud, partly to her, partly to myself. Redirection is powerful, it allowed me to get present to the situation, which would probably have meant I didn’t sleep last night, and I had a great time reading, and slept really well.

    I have a post on reframing here, I would love for you to check it out:

    Have a great day!

  9. Hi Johnathan

    Just thought I’d point out the link is broken and should be (yours has a 1 in there)

    Feel free to delete this comment 🙂

  10. Barbara says:

    When I have to reframe, I take a few minutes out (or as long as necessary) and sit quietly until I begin to feel better. It helps to let my mind wander, because it usually wanders through whatever is making me grumpy at first, and allows me to work through the problem.

    And occasionally, my dog throws his rope toy at my feet and demands I throw it for him during these quiet moments. That’s ok too.

  11. Tolle says:

    Grumpy? For me watching some of my favorite stand-up or sketch comedy clips is a great mood shifter. I’ve collected hundreds over the years and posted them online, via blogger.

  12. Jonathan: Loved that video! Yesterday, my wife’s car swerved off the road into a ditch with our toddler girl in the backseat. The cop arrived and asked if the baby was okay. She had her boots and socks off, and her feet propped up, just hanging out, having a fine time.

    Here are my mechanisms: 1. I dance like a fool. My girl loves to dance, so it helps. Put on something cheesy like ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky,” and the clouds will part. 2. I bundle and force myself outdoors. The slap-on-the-face air and the broader perspective beyond my mind’s four walls forces me to step “outside of myself.” 3. I play what I call the “Head-Twisting Holy Sh&t Game.” When I get a little tense, I just imagine myself free-floating in the universe with no reason, rationale, or mighty purpose holding me down. It’s terrifying and liberating b/c my little frets seem tiny. 4. And I breathe. I have a number of harnessed breathing tricks up my nostrils. – Peace. -J

  13. I have a brightly clanging bell from India, and when I need to reframe how I’m relating to the world, I walk around my office and ring it. The sound pulls me up and out of the doldrums.
    Then I go through a list of self-care. Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Do I need a break? Do I need more sleep?
    Essentially, is this grumpiness a physical response?
    The grumps can come from pushing too hard, but they can also come from working something out subconsciously, and so I try to be gentle, and not see them as something that necessarily needs to be overcome, but instead something that needs to be understood. I let that unconscious stuff bubble to surface where I can work more cognitively with it.
    I don’t know if it’s always a problem for the world to be leading you. It’s a give and take.

    • Deborah says:

      @Brigit – love the Indian bell! I am hyper-responsive to external sensory stim (..both good & bad) and if my funk allows me to listen, I can hear one or more of the 4 distinct chimes I’ve placed outdoors near the 4 corners of my home. Since my faith allows that the wind that rings chimes also carries healing thoughts and love from all over the world – I instantly snap out of funk to receive & return in kind.

  14. Jesse says:

    Perspective is such a funny thing. If I was told I’d be somewhere that was misting and on the ocean this week, I’d be ecstatic. I was happy yesterday when the weather went from -30 to -15 and I was able to start my car that hadn’t been plugged in. So many things to be happy about, just need to find the right perspective.

  15. Jonathan, I needed this today…grumpy. But to reframe I do try to look around me and be appreciative of all that is god in my life. Then I take a few minutes to dance around the house to happy music. Works every time!

  16. This is great! I rarely allow the world to get to me, and I probably would have had a blast just like that guy and his sons. There comes a point where you just have to laugh! Life isn’t always going to be rosy – we just have to smile.

    I think reframing things can be difficult, but it’s something that can become automatic over time. It starts out as a conscious decision and the more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s like your own journey to that place inside you that refuses to cave to those curve-balls life throws at you. For some people it just comes naturally, for some it’s a learned thing – but it’s something we can all do.

  17. teri says:

    I, too, start the gratitude checklist…and realize that all I have in my life far outweighs what’s making me grumpy. If it’s at night, I go to sleep! knowing it’s “night girl” who “morning girl” will laugh at! and btw, the more you do it (reframing), the more naturally reflexive it gets! thanks for this post. with this weather, it’s easy to fall into the “grumpies.” but reframing them into the “gratefuls” makes all the difference in the world!

  18. eliza says:

    What a great question – and I love all the comments to follow!
    I think there’s two kinds of grump though. There’s the one like John Winsor’s story where he and his son may have woken up perfectly happy and then plans were bungled. That’s the “what do I do with what the world throws my way” scenario.

    Then there’s the “I just woke up in a funk” kind of scenario.

    I’m pretty good with the former. I can usually make lemonade with what’s thrown my way. What’s harder is getting out of my own funk. Truth be told, sometimes I just want to relish in it. Wade through it and just go with the “wo is me” wave.

    Next time I wake up feeling sorry for myself, I will have to give the “grump walk” a try. Can’t take myself too seriously doing that! 🙂

    Oh, and the best remedy to really kick my derriere out of a pity parade is to remember how truly fortunate I am and literally count my blessings.

  19. Maureen says:

    These grey winter days can easily bring out the grumpies. What i usually do is step outside — regardless of the weather, take a few deep breaths and watch the birds at the feeder. This always lifts my mood. I also try to keep in mind this phrase– “It’s what you make of it.” It reminds me to look for the good and the positive.

    Thanks and have a wonderful day.

  20. Contrarian says:

    Jonathan, thanks for writing this personalized custom post. Not sure how you knew that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but the title alone got me laughing … and snapped me out of it.

    – The curmudgeon, aka. Contrarian. 🙂

  21. Stephanie says:

    REFRAME. To me this is a general “re-think.” When I feel grumpy I do two things:
    1. Get something to eat, that’s usually the culprit.
    2. Remind myself that I have a lot to be thankful for.

    That simple reminder kicks me in the ass just enough to realize that I’m whining and really do have it good!

    Simple really.

    Love the blog~

  22. Meg DesCamp says:

    Dang, it must be in the air…just posted yesterday on my blog about waking up feeling negative and grumpy.
    What I usually do is remind myself how lucky I am, and when that doesn’t work (as it didn’t recently), I just let my mind unspool all the reasons it can find for being grumpy and cranky; invariably, at the very bottom of that whining is the real reason I’m feeling bad. And when I get to that reason, the real action of noticing and releasing kicks in. Sometimes it takes a few seconds. Sometimes it takes a few minutes. It’s always worth the time.

  23. Anne Wayman says:

    Jonathan Fields grumpy? Who knew! Lol, thanks. I have a couple of tricks… I have two girl friends who I can call and just groan and moan. They listen deeply and don’t try to fix me at all. Usually I’m half way through and I see the truth of the situation – which is I’ve gotten caught.

    A walk in the canyon behind my house helps, and once and a great while I go back to bed with cookies.

    Thanks as usual,


  24. Dana Shino says:

    Yep – my reframe is a cup of jasmine green tea, a short meditate on our futon on our front porch of our cabin, looking out at great landscape, checking in with Spirit and saying, “Okay guys, what is the DEAL?” and Spirit usually shows me the alternative to reframe, I step into it and things go from there. Otherwise, I find the humor and have a really good laugh at myself for being a ridiculous human being. It’s all good.

  25. I love the video, those kids are awesome. Robot for the win!

    I just try to remember who’s in charge of how I feel (one guess who that is).

    The biggest, fastest way to change feelings for me is to perform actions. Action changes feelings every time.

    Blasting Daft Punk on the speakers also helps. 🙂

  26. Alex says:

    Heavy duty strategies involve NLP or EFT – both are great but take some time to get good at.

    Simpler is just putting the right kind of music on and here in the Uk(same latitude as Canada) turning all the lights on! More light cheers me up in the grey days.

    Totally love the “Grump Walk” so that goes in the Simpler box.

    Also bouncing on my rebounder always works!


  27. Exercise always chases away random thoughts that are draining me away from the awesomeness of the moment I am actually experiencing. My exercise of choice? Running!

  28. I think it is safe to say that, if you are subscribed to Jonathan’s blog, you’re all set.

    Haha! OK, that being said (and it’s 100% true), I believe the best re-frame is not a re-frame at all but just a wholehearted acceptance that sometimes we are going to feel a little off our game, and that so is everybody else, and that is reality. Once I started practicing that mindset, I have been able to detach from my ego-driven down moments with so much more adeptness than before.

    “Trust everything that happens in life, even those experiences that cause pain will serve to better you in the end.”
    -Henry Miller, “Reflections”

    • Julie Halsey says:

      Hi Peter ~
      I LOVE your response!! I agree – sometimes just recognizing and allowing ourselves to ‘be where we’re at’ which may not be at our best is okay and in fact coming with that perspective sometimes automatically shifts the energy.

      In my former world I had to put on a ‘fake’ reframe and my corpie face when I got to work and reframed via caffeine. Now – working on my own – some days I reframe and somedays I simply notice that I’m not at my best and utilize that time to do more mundane work or just proceed getting into the task – and energy ultimately shifts.

      As far as grumpiness of bad weather – thank god I live in CA but I still allow myself to complain about bad weather and don’t even bother with reframing, affirmations, gratitude or any other tactic except ‘waiting’ for my sunshine to come back again!

      And yes – then there’s always Jonathan’s post to get me inspired and going!


  29. rakoontz says:

    Almost 11 years ago, I was talked into taking on the responsibility of caring for a rescued Pomeranian. Am I glad I gave in on that one. Nobody begins a new day with more enthusiasm than Mutley. Pomeranians are descended from herding dogs, & Mutley has a lot of that instinct. He runs around like a little circus dog, capering & feinting, trying to goad me into getting dressed, putting his retractable leash on him, & getting out the door asap. Every day is a new day for him, regardless of the weather. Every time we step out of the door, its a Big Adventure. His enthusiasm is contagious. I can’t be with him, especially outside, & resist it for long. Everyone we meet along the way feels compelled to observe what a frisky, alert, & funny little guy he is. He’s also an accomplished lap visitor & cuddle buddy.

  30. It’s called go with the flow…wake up each day and ask the universe to lead you where you are to be….
    Living in FAITH and TRUST that it all works out according to the bigger plan and purpose….always does for me and the adventures are incredible!

  31. Timing of this post is perfect! I have a headache, I’m feeling sorry for myself, I’ve worked all day and feel as if I’ve hardly accomplished anything … This article reminded me that it’s up to me to turn things around.

  32. Here’s hoping those kids never lose that passion for life and dance.

  33. Kolayah says:

    When a challenge pops up, my first thought is what is the lesson in this situation. Looking at the situation as if I am watching someone else helps me to De stress and flow. In due time the solutions appears. Meditation does come in handy as well.

  34. Sonia Simone says:

    Spending time with my kid is an amazing reset for me. I’m dreading the days when he gets to be a horrible teenager and I have to do this all by myself. 🙂 We spend about 20 minutes every morning just sitting together without saying anything, cuddling up, and he has his ovaltine and I have my coffee. Nearly always the best 20 minutes of my day. When I feel shitty, I can bring back the feeling just by thinking about that time.

    Walking. Lots and lots of walking.

    And sitting meditation.

    And swearing.

  35. Julie says:

    The key for me is recognizing that I’m even in it! Once I can recognize it – I can sometimes shift and re-frame instantly. The key for me is quickly learning to notice.

    If I need a bit more than just recognizing it to shift a walk outside is always good. Consciously stopping and taking deep breaths and getting oxygen to my brain helps too.

    • rakoontz says:

      Hi Julie,
      You may already know this, but if you don’t, what you’re doing is known in Zen Buddhism as Mindfulness Practice. You’ve rediscovered a time tested and honored tradition.

  36. Lisa says:

    I do what these three delightful kids do…I dance until the grumpiness goes away.

    I find whenever I’m stuck inside my head, getting up and moving my body is the best (and usually the quickest) way to let go of my pity perspective and take on a passionate one instead.

    The next time a bout of grumpiness occurs, I suggest a moving meditation. Break out your best “dance of the grump” and keep at it for at least five minutes. I guarantee not only will your thinking shift, but your body will love you for the moves and grooves you just gave it.


  37. Sarah says:

    When I need the grumps to begone I look up from my computer.

    One step further, I stand up and do a little exercise.

    Best of all – go outside for a breath of fresh air and reality check.

    Good to be alive. Living in a safe, beautiful spot. Healthy kids, healthy me. Working on my own schedule.

    A little context always helps.

    Thank you for starting this great conversation!

  38. Maria says:

    When I’m feeling grumpy I put on my favorite music, go for a walk, or curl up with my favorite book for an hour or so.

    I take time to empty my mind, breathe…and just be in the moment.

    I give thanks for all the great friends and family in my life…and then get on with the day!

  39. I’m having one of those days today! I had to laugh coming across this blog because it was so spot on with the way I’ve been feeling this morning. For me, the best way to clear my head and refocus is to physically work it out of my system, either through running or a really good workout!

  40. JenP says:

    Like several people have mentioned already, singing cheers me up when I feel grumpy. Especially singing the song, “It sucks to be me” from the musical Avenue Q! It probably sounds mad but when I feel that it really does suck to be me, it helps to remember that other people think that too! Plus it’s a jolly tune!

  41. Heather Gardner says:

    For me, when I start on the pityparty train, I find myself instantly remembering that my life is what I make of it. I tend to think of those that are less fortunate then me..cliche, but true.

    Then, I try to do something nice for another person. If I can’t make myself happy, perhaps I can make another happy? Inherently by doing something nice for another person, I, too, become happier.

    And I ALWAYS remember that it can always be worse. I could be a deodorant tester. 🙂

  42. […] a post from Jonathan Fields, summing up some of what I wanted to feel by writing this post out: […]

  43. […] you’re worried about what others think, try re-framing it and use your own conscience as a metric. After all, you’re the one that has to live with […]

  44. […] Reframing your story is one of the most powerful things you can do. […]