I used to think those “silver linings” people were full of it. Look on the bright side, count your blessings, turn that frown upside down! To me, it sounded an awful lot like… settling. Like, “So what if the cute quarterback didn’t ask me to prom, because now I get to do something even BETTER on Saturday night – curl up in my sweatpants and watch a Golden Girls marathon with my cat while gorging on cheese puffs!” Um, OK…
But now that I’ve got some more perspective and experience under my belt (read: I’m old), I see things differently. Let’s say something bad happens. Not natural-disaster bad, just a garden-variety bummer, like you don’t get a freelance writing assignment you really, really wanted. You thought you had it in the bag. You could already picture your byline shimmering from the glossy pages of the magazine across from some airbrushed celebrity hawking wrinkle cream. Maybe you could feel the rich leather of the boots you were going to buy with your big fat paycheck. But then, you didn’t get the gig. It happens.
Maybe the preschooler in you wants to say, “That editor’s a poopy-head! I didn’t want to write for that dumb magazine anyway. I’m going to hold my breath till I turn blue!” But then you remember you’re closer to 40 than 4. So you nurse your wounds with some Facebook rants and a glass of wine. Maybe some leftover Halloween candy, I don’t judge.
But then you start to realize that the article actually would have been a boatload of work, including lots of dreaded phone interviews. And the magazine pays on publication not acceptance, so those boots could be out of style by the time you finally get paid. And now you can volunteer at your kid’s school during your temporary downtime, like he’s been begging you to for, like, ever. And besides, just because you didn’t get THIS assignment doesn’t mean you won’t get ANY assignments – after all, now you have a contact at that magazine. (Who, upon further reflection, actually isn’t a poopy-head at all. It’s not her fault they already had a similar article in the works.)
Do you see what’s happening here? It’s not sour grapes. It’s not complicated think-positive mind games. It’s not forced appreciation to prove to the world how Zen and grateful you are. I think it’s called acceptance. Isn’t there some prayer about that or something?
Anyway, the more you do it, the easier it gets. It might even become second nature. You start to understand that letting things go and focusing on the good stuff actually feels better than drinking too much and complaining to everyone you know about the unfairness of life. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)
And then, what do you know? More and more good things start coming your way. Or maybe they always did, you’re just noticing them more now. Now that you’re one of THOSE PEOPLE.
P.S. I did go to a school dance with the quarterback once. It was pretty fun, but so is binge-watching sitcoms and eating junk food, I’m not gonna lie.