I just got back from the grocery store where I was involved in something interesting. I was in the checkout line getting ready to buy my root beer.  The mother in front of me had a child in the baby seat who was getting restless sitting in the cart.

You could see his face was starting to twist in that way that every child does just before a tantrum or crying fit begins. The mother was doing the best she could to distract him and appease him, but it wasn’t working.

I leaned into view of the child and did what I do when I see children I made it excited looking face. The child immediately stopped mid-tantrum, cocked his head to the side, and smiled.  A few minutes and a lot of funny faces (I find the oooh and wow face work best) later, they left – crisis averted.

It struck me as I walked to my car that I had witnessed (and actually initiated) a pattern interrupt.  The child had talked himself into being in a bad mood.  His heart was set on the fit he was about to start.  He justified it internally with something like, “I’m tired of sitting in this cart.  Shopping is boring.  I want to play.  I want to be held.  I have to go to the bathroom.  I’m hungry.”

Whatever it was… he was set on acting it out.  I interrupted where that train was heading and he suddenly found something else to focus on…. the goofy looking dude making faces in the line at the grocery store.

It is the same way with us.  When we are going down a path toward anger, self-doubt or just want to throw a little pity party – we can break ourselves out.  Not only can we – but we must.  There is nothing positive to come from those negative journeys.

How can you break yourself out?

  • Play some of your favorite upbeat music
  • Put on your favorite comedy film
  • Call someone you know that is always happy
  • Go for a walk (or any exercise)
  • Go out in public and be around people

That last one is the one I use often.  I find just walking through the grocery store and mindlessly picking up some root beer can often be the trigger I need to break me out of a bad mood.  Who knows – you may find some cute little kid and make his day with silly faces.  That is guaranteed to lighten your mood.

by Chris Doelle