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Cheerfully Unhappy

Cheerfully Unhappy

Keeping things in perspective allows you to "enjoy" life's little annoyances.


Lying down during the day with a tickly throat which is threatening to be Officially Sore, I'm internally kvetching. I'm kvetching about the kid who missed his school bus again, necessitating a trip to school to drop him off. I'm kvetching about the milk that I just purchased last Thursday that "Smells so sour, Ma, so we're throwing out all our bowls of Captain Crunch, O.K.?" I'm kvetching about the red knee sock that bled onto the white shirt and most of all, I'm kvetching about the kid who promised me he loved the jacket, tore off the tag, wore it for a total of twelve and a half minutes and then, suddenly decided he hates it.

It is fun to huddle here on the sofa, letting myself sink into my kvetchy mode. It is fun and it is safe because I've found the secret to sanity. It's staying cheerfully unhappy.

I was always uncomfortable feeling bad about the annoyances knowing how many people were suffering from real tragedies.

There are always things to bring you down, from the mildly annoying (missing the bus) to the ouchies (losing your favorite bracelet) to the heart stabbers (car accidents). I was always uncomfortable feeling bad about the annoyances knowing how many people were suffering from real tragedies. But ignoring the twinges of pain that mild annoyances brought didn't feel healthy. When I baked cookies and they burned I knew it wasn't a major deal, but it still felt frustrating. Minor pain is pain, after all.

I solved my problem by constantly reevaluating the events in my life that were disappointments and categorizing them as Minor or Major. In a word, I prioritize. I allow myself a good five minute wallow when my kid loses his raincoat.. again. I allow myself a good ten minute sob fest when anxiety overcomes me about some medical tests a relative is having.

Crying and hand wringing and crumpled wet tissues feel good. So do pillow punching and feet stamping in the privacy of my own bedroom. But after the five or ten minutes are up, I move on. That's right. I let the anxiety and pain go b'bye and get on with life. Cause I have priorities and the annoyance of burnt brownies can't come close to my Jewish sisters and brothers who are suffering from infertility.

I find that as long as I allow myself the short grace period for kvetching and lamenting, I can move on, feeling grateful for the blessings behind the boo boos. These Minors are usually boo boos and seeing the blessings isn't that difficult. My car broke down.. wow, I have a car and the money to pay insurance and fill up with gas. My kids are bickering about who can blow his/her nose the loudest... thank God I've got kids. My roof is leaking.. thank heaven for a roof above my head.

This is my key to staying focused in life. Even as I'm unhappy, I'm always cheerfully unhappy, knowing that deep down, underneath the twinges, I'm glad for what I've got.

So bring on the quarrels, the missed buses, the who-on-earth-put-his-mini-helicopter-in-the-dishwasher, the "Ma, my toothbrush fell in the toilet, but don't worry I took it out and washed it well," the gray skies, the scraped knees, I'm ready. Even burnt brownies sometimes taste good.

November 17, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) aryeh, November 22, 2007 3:45 PM

Thank you

Fantastic article. Thank's for the laugh and the insight.

(9) raye, November 22, 2007 9:03 AM

I've just been there!

Appointments changed the last minute; wrong telephone numbers given; computer Windows changed without permission. There is a Yiddish expression which in translation expresses the idea that any of these annoyances are petty but much preferred over something much worse or really bad.

(8) debby, November 20, 2007 7:28 AM

great sense of humor

thanks for putting it all in perspective!

(7) Sarah, November 20, 2007 3:37 AM


What a great article. It's true that sometimes we fail to see the forest through the trees and realize that despite all our little problems or inconveniences in life, we really do have a LOT to be thankful for!! =D

(6) Mary, November 19, 2007 11:39 AM


The article made me remember a mantra from a course: "On a scale of 1 to 100 in disappointment, it's a 5 percenter and I can stand a 5 percenter."

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