There are so many things in the world that actually suck. Perhaps it’s time for us to explore those things that don’t suck a little more.
By Mindy Henderson, Photo by Vanessa Todd
What is the truth about things that don’t suck? So many truths! Here are a few of my favorites.
Truth #1 – We should acknowledge and cherish these. Regularly.
I believe one of the primary purposes of the things in our lives that suck is they amplify the things that are good. As many challenges as we all have in life, we also all have things we can be grateful for. These are the very same things we easily take for granted. Intentional gratitude has become as impactful in my life as other healthy practices: a healthy diet, meditation, getting sufficient sleep.
I have a disability that confines me to a wheelchair. It creates inconvenience, limitations and even things like discrimination, lack of inclusion and strangers who underestimate me on the regular.
But my disability also serves to magnify the good things that show up in daily life. The air in my lungs, the fact that I woke up this morning, the roof over my head. The family that loves and supports me, the two furry babies that snuggle me. Coffee in my Keurig every morning—and, okay, usually in the afternoon. A career speaking, writing and coaching that I get to do every day. Water that comes out of my tap, the food I get to cook and eat every day. Strangers who believe in the work I’m doing and who have selflessly given me time, wisdom and opportunities. I could go on.
One of the best antidotes for walking through hard times is recognition of the things in life that don’t suck. Let them exist and be worthy of the attention. Living life on autopilot without taking a minute to inventory the good things in our lives creates the perfect environment for the things that suck to consume us.
Truth #2 – Sometimes we have to manufacture things that don’t suck.
When times get extra hard and the things that suck seem to outweigh the things that don’t, put your work boots on.
I still maintain that we all have things we can be grateful for every single day. But I’ve seen cases in my own life (and in others’) where the shift in primary power moves to the suckiness we’re sitting in.
In those moments, when the suck outweighs the “unsuck,” you can take back your power by creating things, moments, experiences that don’t.
You can get primed for these times in advance. Create a list of things that make you insanely happy in a journal. Or pin it on the refrigerator or on your phone. Some of my loves are going out for a coffee (shocker!), getting lost in a movie (either at home or in a theater), retail therapy, binging The Office and laughing my head off, playing with my pets (double shocker!), reading a book, planning a trip (for when we can do that again) and going out to do anything with a friend or family member.
When times are extra-hard, and the bad overshadows the good, refer to your list. Then go create something on purpose that checks the “good” box in your life.
Truth #3 – You can qualify as the thing that doesn’t suck for someone else.
Guess what. Sometimes we become the thing someone else needs. The thing that changes the energy of their day from bad to good.
Before you get stressed out or feel burdened, let me suggest this. Sometimes a smile is the thing that could turn a stranger’s day around. Sometimes paying someone a compliment is the validation their inner critic needs. Wishing someone a great day or asking someone who looks lost if you can help…helps. I’ve seen this one in action so many times! Oftentimes, being kind to someone else and seeing the effect it has on them can improve your own mood and day. #winning
It doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture. Sometimes it’s the smallest, easiest things that create a chain reaction that improves the quality of six other people’s day.
But if you want to invest more in this one, there are so many options!
Helping organizations whose mission it is to improve the lives of others relies on people who volunteer their time to make that possible. When you volunteer, you’re becoming a “thing that doesn’t suck” for not only that organization, but all the people, animals, who or whatever that organization serves. BONUS: This also qualifies as a manufactured experience to go in your own “good” pile!
Be a mentor
Whether in an official capacity or not, you can share your wisdom—whatever that might be—with someone who needs it. Help a younger person with their own career. Teach your kids something new. Sign up to mentor a child at a nearby elementary school. This also has a ripple effect on other people that individual may touch.
Be a good friend
Call a friend or a family member and listen to them. Really listen. Let them know they are seen and heard and that they matter. Help them solve a problem, big or small. The truth about things that don’t suck is that they need even more time, attention, intention and curating as the things that do. The things that do suck can take up our time and space without even trying. So don’t try. Give your energy today to the things that don’t suck and let them rule the roost. There is so much good when we stop to see it!
Mindy Henderson lives in Austin with her husband of 17 years. They have a daughter at Texas State University, a puggle named Mr. PapaGeorgio and a cat named Birdie. Mindy currently works as a speaker, writer, coach, host of The Truth About Things That Suck podcast and is a guest contributor to We Are Austin. This column is a tool she is excited to use regularly to help us all uncover those sucky but surprisingly beautiful circumstances. Connect with Mindy on Instagram at @mindyhendersonspeaks, or on LinkedIn.