“A great attitude becomes a great mood. A great mood becomes a great day. A great day becomes a great year. A great year becomes a great life.” ~Unknown
I was already in a terrible mood by the time we arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm. It was Thanksgiving, and my family and I had spent four hours in the car in order to visit out-of-town family. My daughter had an accident in car seat on the way out there, and my husband and I were both battling colds. Oh, and it was my birthday.
We’d spent the afternoon with my husband’s family, and had enjoyed the meal and the visit, but left on the early side to give ourselves time to get to the hotel before our three-year-old daughter could get overtired.
We’d stayed at this hotel before; it offered a suite at a reasonable rate, which allowed our daughter to go to bed at her normal bedtime and for us to be in a separate room and be able to stay up until our own normal bedtime. I’d called months in advance to book a room, as soon as we knew we’d be making the trip to Raleigh, as I wanted to have that box checked off in my mind.
In other words: I thought the hotel would be no problem.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d imagined. The person at the desk was new, and I had difficulty figuring out what he was trying to tell me; I just understood something was wrong. Finally he said it: We overbooked the suites and you’ll all have to be in one room together.
One room together? On my birthday, when I have a cold and am exhausted and frustrated and grumpy? I have to go to bed before 8pm? With no chance to talk to my husband or read a book?
I didn’t find this acceptable, and the front desk clerk half-heartedly called around to see if any other hotels were available, and I did the same. Being a holiday, though, there was nothing. Meanwhile, my daughter was getting more and more irritable and tired, actually asking when we could go upstairs and go to bed.
My mood got worse and worse, and I’m not proud of the way I behaved. I was surly to the hotel employee, something I try to never, ever do after my own years in the hospitality industry. I was rude, unpleasant, and downright mean.
It changed nothing. Well, we did get a discount on the room, but we probably would have gotten that either way. I felt terrible.
We went upstairs, rushed to get unpacked and settled, me grumbling and agitated the whole time, then put our daughter to bed. She passed out instantly, out so cold that my husband and I were able to whisper in the dark for more than an hour, which was actually kind of fun.
At some point during our talk in the dark, I realized this moment, this experience, this exact second, was an opportunity to stop and ask myself how I wanted to feel and behave.
I told myself something that shifted my attitude in just one moment: “Someday this will be funny.”
I felt an enormous energy shift and actually began to smile. My mood was completely changed.
I saw that not having the right hotel room was so, so not a big deal. Yeah, it was an inconvenience, but it wasn’t worth being so upset over.
And having a minor cold? And spending a lot of the day in the car? Also not big things to worry about.
All of this happening on my birthday? It’s not like it was my sweet sixteen or the big four-oh. It was just not worth getting upset over.
I wish I could let you feel the way I felt in that hotel room, because the shift happened so quickly and so completely. One minute I was stewing over everything that had happened in the past hour, getting more and more upset, and the next I felt complete and utter peace and relief.
Looking back, I can also see that there was so much space for gratitude and appreciation, and not just because it was Thanksgiving.
My family could not only afford to stay in a hotel, but we could afford to switch to a more expensive one the next night (one with a suite!). We have family to celebrate the holidays with. We have an awesome, reliable, and safe car to get us to wear we need to go.
Appreciation is such a beautiful thing, and it goes hand in hand with shifting negative thoughts to more positive ones. Once you start looking around for things to appreciate, letting go of anger and frustration is much easier.
This experience was really powerful and important to me, so I wanted to share what I’ve done differently since then. Perhaps these tips will help you improve your mood when dealing with inconveniences that aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Use the power of words to bring yourself back down to a calm place.
I’ve started saying “someday this will be funny” whenever I can, because it brings me back to that hotel room and the way it shifted my mood. I also regularly ask myself if whatever is happening will matter tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month. Those all help me put things in perspective.
Remind yourself things will turn out fine.
Depending on your belief system, you may even take the long view and know that your spirit is completely safe and protected regardless of what happens in this life. If that doesn’t do it for you, simply ask yourself if this incident will even matter in a week or a month; often you’ll see that this isn’t going to have much of an impact on your life or well-being.
Remember THIS IS IT.
This thing that’s happening right now, even as you read this article, is your life. If you spend it going from sour mood to sour mood, your life is going to turn out pretty sour. You are the only one who has the power to change that.
Think of the Chinese parable that teaches there is no good or bad.
I’ve heard a few different versions of it, but the gist is that no matter what comes our way, it can be good or bad, who’s to say? Something may seem bad on its face, like losing a job, but it may bring something wonderful, like a new career you’re more passionate about.
Use every possible opportunity to take a few deep breaths and reset.
I know I get stuck in patterns, and feeling sorry for myself is one of them. I have to really, really work to notice when I’m getting sucked down into bad feelings and take the time to shift my perspective, so do it every single time you think of it.
Remind yourself that like attracts like.
You’ve probably noticed that when you’re in a bad mood and acting grouchy or defensive, other people react to you with that same energy, which doesn’t feel good and can put you in an even worse mood. You’re also more likely to notice negative things happening all around you when that’s what you’re focused on. Likewise, when you’re noticing the good stuff, you’re calmer and happier, and people you encounter reflect that back to you, too.
This incident happened more than six months ago, but it’s stuck with me. You and I both get to decide how we will react in any given moment, in any given situation. Let’s take a collective deep breath and try to laugh.