Follow Friday + Nicki’s Personal Updates: Week of April 19, 2013 – Graceful When Feeling Bad, Grateful When Feeling Good

Like roller coasters, life can be full of ups and downs. The key is to stay graceful through it.
Like roller coasters, life can be full of ups and downs. The key is to stay graceful through it.

How many times do we say, “This isn’t really me” on a bad day? We’ll say mean or outlandish things. Some of us will throw stuff or punch a pillow. Or we’ll do stuff to get away or take the bad day off our minds, like indulging in food or beverage, which can be destructive.

But the truth is, we’re are always ourselves. We may not choose to identify our behaviors when we’re feeling low as a part of our identities, but they really are.

Today  I was having one of those days. I woke up early, and my phone wasn’t working. I went to have my phone repaired and stopped home to grab my mail, when I discovered my water wasn’t working. Add in a flat tire and excessive traffic, and I was in a really foul mood.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Be graceful when you are feeling bad. Be grateful when you are feeling good.” I tried to remember that today. And it was hard. I had this strong urge after all that happened to unwind for twenty minutes, grab a donut and a cappuccino. But I’ve been on a diet for a while now, and it’s taken several weeks to lose nine pounds. So I did the graceful thing, and had a twenty-minute respite with a tall black coffee instead. And a lot of deep breaths.

I was a biology and physics major in college. In a physics class, I remember thinking that humans undergoing negative change are a lot like a bouncing ball: When we are high, we are soaring, flying. But when we hit the ground, there is an abrupt stop. During this point of impact, energy can be transformed from kinetic (moving) energy to mechanical or potential energy. With a ball, mechanical energy will enable the ball itself to morph, change, depending on the material with which it is made. Potential energy will enable the ball to move in a different direction. And I think we humans are like this too: When we hit bottom, we can use our energy to either change ourselves or to change direction, to move differently than we have before.

But it’s hard to acknowledge this when you are experiencing it. It’s a part of human nature to cling to permanence. We all want to believe the soaring phase lasts forever. And when it stops, we feel cheated, isolated, resentful, angered, fearful, saddened, alone. In reality, it’s a part of life. And once we learn that everyone and everything soars and falls, soars and falls, and learn to accept the only permanence is change – well, then you can handle the low times with grace.

During a very hard time in my own life, my father once told me, “Time heals all wounds.” And it’s very true. I remember tearing up when he said it, it has been that poignant to me. So my point in this post is this: No matter what it is that you are going through, acknowledge it is a part of life. Life changes and it often seems unfair, sometimes very unfair. But you reach acceptance. And then, and only then, can you accept the circumstances in your life with grace and move on with your life.

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  • Thanks Nicki, you have written a really thoughtful and insightful article that is a good reminder to us all to take responsibility for our lives and who we are ( and to just go with the flow of life rather than struggle uselessly against it). It reminds me of a quote along the lines of “It’s not how we behave on a good day that is evidence of our character, but how we behave on a bad day”. I really appreciate your thoughts!

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