It’s a tall goddamned order, being cheerful, but what are you going to do? Sulk around all the time? Make everyone else miserable? Make yourself miserable? Left to my own devices? Yes. Very probably yes.
I was on the trail, running, or trying to run. It was deep summer. I had sweated all the sweat. I had three more miles to run, and the soul was draining out of me like I’d sprung an ontological leak. And then I said out loud to myself, “Be fucking cheerful!” And I started to laugh, and that helped a lot.
Everyone’s peddling a slogan these days (pun intended), why not me?
Nothing I’m doing is so serious, so important, that I need to suffer through it. When I suffer on the trail, it’s a thing I’m choosing. If I can choose to suffer, then I can choose to be cheerful about it, right? Yes. Maybe. Sometimes.
There are people with actual problems. Daily problems. Daily suffering. It would be disrespectful to them to pretend that what I’m doing is the same. No. What I’m doing is suffering practice. I’m putting myself in discomfort to train for a time when real discomfort comes, like when my father died, or when my brother followed him out the door. Then the lessons carry over.
Sit in the pain. Just sit. Let it be. Keep going. Eventually, be fucking cheerful. Is there more?
I just woke my kids, made them breakfast, endured their groaning, and just when I thought I was going to say something shitty, something unhelpful, I whispered to myself, “Be fucking cheerful.” And it worked, and I didn’t blow up breakfast or start their day with a pile of crappy feelings.
It’s like a spell you can cast on yourself. Your results may vary.
Next time you’re out on the bike and you’re gassed, quads gone wooden, neck and shoulders cramping, salt crystalizing at your temples, try this little bit of positive/negative self-talk and see if you can’t find a stupid chuckle somewhere down in your guts. Think of me. “That asshole,” you might say to yourself. “How am I supposed to martyr myself on the altar of the cycling gods when he won’t take anything seriously.” It’ll be too late by then. You’ll already be feeling fucking cheerful.
Thanks for reading this far, for humoring me. Now do me one more solid. Share this with a friend who you think might need it. Use the buttons right below these words. Thanks.