When we lived in the city, Bill and I took early morning walks through the neighborhood. Sometimes I thought we were the only ones awake. One morning, something in the middle of the street caught my eye as we neared it. It was still quite dark, so even being able to see this lump of mystery was surprising. My curiosity meter was rising, so I cautiously approached the object. After all, even in the city, we had opossums, skunks, and raccoons, and I had no need to be the morning wake-up call for a critter.
When I got close and shined the flashlight on it, I realized it was a book. As a lover of books, I couldn’t imagine why someone’s book would be in the middle of a neighborhood street. Also as one with an imagination already on two cups of coffee, I quickly designed several scenarios as to how the book might have gotten there. I picked it up, turned it over, walked to the streetlight to see the title – 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About. That certainly changed all the stories I made up as to how it got there.
I’m still wondering why someone would buy a book with that title. I mean, don’t we already have our own list of at least twelve thousand things to be miserable about if we choose? Wouldn’t it be something to be able to toss aside the miseries from our lives as easily as someone tossed that book out the car window – at least that was my story as to how it got there.
Life happens, and there will always be something to rob us of our joy. Situations arise – situations beyond our control—but being miserable is a choice. I have lived long enough to learn that misery and gratitude do not reside in the same heart. So one cure for my “miserable mully-grubs” is to be grateful. If I ever find myself in the dark deep of despondency, I get out a pencil and paper and make a list of things for which I am grateful. It changes my focus. Give it a try. Express your gratitude to those around you and to the Giver of all good things, and at least for a little while, those things that can make you miserable seem to evaporate.
In case you’re wondering what I did with the book, I left it on the grass under the streetlight in case its owner came looking for it. I went home and read the reviews on Amazon. Some reviewers said the book actually made them laugh. Perhaps reading a list of misery-inducing things reminds us of how silly some of those things are. But what made me laugh was what Amazon had put on the same page as this book – a recommendation for a book entitled 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. See, I told you. Even Amazon knows we need to change our focus. Perhaps there is some merit in purchasing such books. After all, laughter is certainly cheaper than a pill.