Let’s just start out being honest—I am a lizard, not a polar bear or other cold weather creature. So as the days get shorter and the chill in the air gets more noticeable, I get more lethargic and downright disengaged. Since this seems to happen every year, I am catching on to a pattern here, and am teaching myself to plan ahead to prepare for what is bound to happen as the gardens die off and the damp weather soaks into my bones.
This year, my preparation planning has included reading a treasure trove of “self-help” articles on mood management. Guess what? Doomscrolling the news brings on increased anxiety and depression. Yes, someone actually researched that, so go with it, and limit your news feeds to five minutes a day. I also learned what we all know as intuitively true, and that is that the moods of other people trigger your reactions and moods. Since you can’t generally avoid people, you can learn to dial out their negative behaviors. Or, better yet, counter with the unexpected. Smile when they frown or strike up a pleasant conversation with an invisible friend. The idea is to fill your input bucket with positives, so that the negatives have no space to stay.
The best way to fill up your positive bucket is to stock up on positive plans and tactics. Just like that squirrel gathering peanuts, you can gather up good thoughts and energies now, for when you need them later in an ice storm or when your car won’t start.
Fortunately, October is exactly the time to do just that. Someone was planning ahead, and designated October 5th as both National Be Nice Day and National Do Something Nice Day. How handy is that— you can accomplish two things at once. Multi-tasking at its finest.
So, what can you do to “Be Nice?” What can you do to “Do Something Nice?”
Some of my go-to booster activities are picking up trash, smiling at random people, or just making eye contact when appropriate. When it is time to “Do Something Nice,” it is my opportunity to gather up canned goods for a local pantry, sort through the coat closet and donate to area clothing banks and shelters, or pay for the order for the person behind you in line. There is always something you can do to “Do Something Nice” for others. How about taking your gentle well-behaved pup to a local care facility and sitting in the lobby to chat with folks who come along? This also works without the pet if you can start a conversation easily. Sometimes approvals are necessary, so plan ahead. Everyone has those friends and co-workers they keep meaning to get in touch with—do it now when you are storing up warm thoughts. You never know what positive impact reaching out can have on someone. “Just thinking of you and all the fun we had at….” can diffuse defeatist thoughts for the recipient.
At work, even though it is not as easy as in person, you can make up your own version of a “Values in Action” card and email a note to someone you work with. Better yet, write a note and put it in the snail mail. When was the last time you received something that wasn’t an ad or a bill? Or set a calendar reminder to email a positive note to one person at the beginning of every day before you jump into the urgent messages. Nothing is more urgent than building and maintaining human relationships.
There are 226 “International” or “National” holidays in October– including October 1st, International Day of Coffee and October 4th, National Child Health Day. You can enjoy a good cuppa Ethiopian coffee while writing a note to a child health provider and celebrate both “Be Nice” and “Do Something Nice” day!
Be creative—and be nice!