It was a long weekend for me (Labor Day Weekend). If I am lucky, a long weekend means that I can go with my wife and kids to my in-law’s house on the Tennessee river. It’s super nice and super fun. We have our own boat docks, boats, 4-wheelers, plenty of beer, plenty of food and plenty of other fun people to hang out with. It’s always a blast, and this weekend was no exception.

Before we left for the trip, someone said something to me that just set me off into “Mr. Negativity Land.” I was a downer for the whole rest of the day. One thing lead to another and I don’t care who was around I probably could have said something negative about them or whatever it was they were doing. Then my wife’s cousin and his new fiancé walked up to the cabin. I found out about their engagement the day before on Facebook, and I was super excited for them. All the sudden I was in a way better mood. All the stupid things I was being negative about leading up to this moment just all went away. That’s when I realized something that I would be thinking about for the rest of the weekend.

We are in charge of our feelings, and it doesn’t have to dictate our life experiences or (more importantly) those people around us. Because someone says something that makes us angry or frustrates us doesn’t mean that we have to change our mood or our behavior one bit. Further, when we do let those things dictate our feelings, we are letting someone else decide how we should be feeling. That doesn’t seem very cool at all.

I think a lot of times we can hear someone say something about us or to us and we automatically assume that there is something wrong with us, or that we are horrible people. I think it’s VERY important to remember that many of the things that people say to us or about us come from some viewpoint or problem that they have with themselves. Most of the time we won’t ever know what that problem is. Let me see if I can think of a good example.

Hypothetically…let’s say that…seriously…hypothetically…let’s say I was going to go to the shop at the river to blow up a raft for the kids to ride on behind the boat. There’s plenty of tools in the shop to use. I get the air compressor going, get ready to blow the raft up and my FIL comes in and takes over. “You’re using the wrong tool, the wrong air compressor, you don’t know what you’re doing…”  How do I react? He’s right, I’m an idiot. We may as well just go home. My kids have a crappy father who can’t even blow up a raft. Nobody is going to have any fun at all this weekend. The reality is that my FIL, who is battling cancer and a lot of bad health issues, probably just wants to help out and feel like he is needed. It has nothing to do with me. Hypothetically of course.

Seriously, these kinds of moments can make or break not only your experience, but everyone around you. What if my reaction was to find a positive spin? Woah, he’s totally right. I do NOT know how to use this air compressor to blow up this raft. Now I do. I just learned something. Also, how many people even have a boat and a house and a raft to blow up? This is awesome! I’m glad we can go out on the boat with our kids and have a kick ass day! There’s someone out there who would love to have their biggest problem of the day be figuring out how to use a $1000 piece of equipment to blow up a raft to pull around the lake with a boat that…..jeez, hopefully you get the point?

My point is this, we can either decide to have a negative reaction or a positive reaction. We need to be aware of that. I think if we just take a second and stop to determine why we are feeling what we are feeling and reflect on that we would be WAY better off. I feel like in most situations we can just decide to be happy instead of pissed off and depressed. Just pay attention, we are in charge.