After some observation I have realized I have a number of personality traits in common with my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. There are times I just have to be a little bit grumpy. No, there’s nothing really wrong with either one of us. She’s two years eleven months. I’m seventy six—almost seventy seven years.
We both have the capacity to be happy. Fact is—I think we’re both happy more than we’re grouchy, but there’s a certain enjoyable aspect to sometimes having a little bit of an attitude about life. For one thing, it gets us noticed—and paid attention to.
Folks around us appreciate the happy moments more when they don’t happen all the time. When I was younger I swore I would never be a curmudgeon, but now that I’m older I sort of enjoy being one. Of course, when I was a three-year-old that was how things got done.
Truthfully, I am an optimist. I almost always am confident that things will work out–and usually they do, but it’s irritating when they don’t and I feel I do have the right to react accordingly. My granddaughter is usually a happy little girl, but when things don’t work out for her she gets a little unhappy and has no problem expressing her unhappiness. At heart she’s sweet and fun to be around, and she is showered in love. But sometimes she has an attitude, and sometimes so do I.
Being happy isn’t that difficult, but there are times the world isn’t always going to line up with us the way we want it to. Things go wrong, and we have to know how we should react when they do.
Fact is, I don’t complain all that much and I usually just carry on when things go south for me, but I do act on disappointment and I do try to fix what’s wrong. After all, having an attitude is not entirely destructive—unless griping is all we do. Fixing what’s wrong is part of making life better. As my granddaughter grows, she will probably want to fix things, too.
Should we be angry? Sometimes anger is justified, and it’s healthier to express it than to hold it in. I don’t do fits or tantrums—they take too much energy, and I don’t have as much energy as I used to. But we don’t live in an ideal world and recognizing that prepares us for failures or frustrations. We can express our disappointment and then get up and move on.
Of course there are times we need to get angry and do something. I think they call it “righteous indignation.” That’s how things that need fixing get fixed. Should we look the other way when we see injustice? I hope not. I want a better world, and changing the world demands energy. We can’t generate that energy without getting our emotions involved.
Having lived most of eight decades, I am old enough to see that. So excuse me if my moods aren’t always pleasant. I earned the right to have an attitude, and, at the appropriate times, I plan to enjoy it!
P.S.: Lot’s of us have attitudes. If we have one, we should accept the fact we are not alone and be reasonable with each other’s attitudes. It’s human and it’s okay.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.