Live this life long enough and you’ll realize there are both good days and bad, and there often isn’t much you can do to influence things one way or the other. Some days the world seems at your feet, and others it seems the universe is aligned against you. Such is the pain and the pleasure of living. You never know what’s coming next. Depending upon your circumstances, that can either be something you run toward or cower from.
What’s wrong with the world? we ask.
For several years I took the good day/bad day thing in stride. This world was not unlike an amusement park ride, I thought. There were flat places and loops. Times when you climbed a steep grade with white-knuckle anticipation, and times when you flew down the other side arms raised and screaming with delight. You had to endure the bad in order to enjoy the good. It was all part of the ride.
While I still think that’s true to a certain degree, I’ve also learned I’m not completely powerless when it comes to changing the tone of a bad spell. And lately, I’ve had a bad spell. Lots of work, lots of grumbling. Gray skies both inside and out. But whereas I once would be content to grit my teeth and muddle through, I now take a more proactive stance.
Which I did this morning. It was one small act that required mere seconds to perform, but the benefits have been both big and lasting. I am walking through my day with head held high and a smile upon my face.
I wish I could say my secret to beating the daily blues was spiritually-oriented. It isn’t. It isn’t a little extra prayer or a little extra faith, though I’ve found they are a welcome byproduct. No, my secret is equal parts childlike and childish and very, very effective.
It’s Spongebob boxers.
I found them a few weeks ago in Target. Right size, right price. I had no intention of purchasing them, of course. What self-respecting redneck (not an oxymoron, by the way) would willingly choose to walk around wearing such a thing?
Not me. No way.
So I bought them. Partly because my children dared me to do so, but partly because staring at the silly-looking cartoon character sort of made me feel better. I figured what the heck.
When I wore them the next day I realized two things. One was that I very rarely thought about what sort of underwear I happened to be wearing. As long as something was there, I was fine. But the other was this—I thought about that particular underwear. A lot.
I thought about them while having a very deep conversation with a very smart professor. Thought about them when someone asked me to contribute something to his website. Thought about them when someone else came to me for some advice.
And I remember wondering what in the world those people would think if they knew I was wearing Spongebob underwear.
Silly? Yes. But then again, that was the point.
Because wearing them allowed me to do something I desperately needed, and that was to not take myself or my life too seriously.
I think we all forget that sometimes. The world has grown too serious and too blah. Bad news abounds, everything’s scary, and it’s easy to think our best is behind us. Not true.
If there is anything we all need now, just as much as more faith and more hope, it is more laughter. It is more joy. It is to see life’s challenges and shortcomings and realize they do not exist to hold us back, but to propel us forward. It is to have the courage to see that we can change things. We can make the world better. Not by changing governments or policies, but by changing ourselves.
What’s wrong with the world? Me. And you.
That’s where we should start. And I’ll suggest beginning with changing your underwear.