By Susan Sey
It's the holiday season & the heart-warming stories are thick on the ground. Dime a dozen. Can't throw a cat without hitting one.
That sounds bad, doesn't it? Like I'm complaining. (Or advocating cat-throwing.) Like I'm a big enough scrooge to dislike heart-warming stories. I'm not, though. Truly. I love the one where the couple grabs a bite to eat on their way out to Christmas shopping and ends up slipping their gift money to a hard-luck waitress.
The one where the little old man comes up $20 short on his grocery bill and the lady behind him covers it while he's patting his pockets? Love it.
The one where you zoom up to the drive-thru window to spend $4 you can't afford on a latte you desperately need only to find the person in front of you paid for your drink, too? I love that one.
And don't get me started on that song about the Christmas shoes. It's as bad as the Maxwell House commercials where the kid comes home from college or (god help my tear ducts) the military. In uniform. I weep. Every time.
So it's not that I have anything against heart-warming stories of people spontaneously doing the right thing. It's just that...well, let me explain.
I had this experience lately where I did the right thing. It was a tough decision, the kind where your head totally knows what the right thing to do is but your heart wants what it wants & there's no talking it down.
I did the right thing anyway. I made the call that deprived my heart of what it wanted but ensured everybody's safety, happiness & well-being. Everybody's except mine. Oh, I was safe and well. I just wasn't happy. My heart wanted what it wanted. My heart pouted. Is still pouting, really.
Which took me by surprise. Because generally when you do the right thing in a situation like this, the endorphins kick in. The "I did the right thing & boy doesn't it feel good" brain chemistry trumps your heart's grumping & whining about being deprived.
In this case, though? No endorphins.
I did the right thing & didn't even get a buzz off the fumes of my own selflessness.
As I write this, it occurs to me that perhaps my righteousness high was denied me because I wasn't being selfless. I made the right decision but I was counting on feeling good about myself for having done it. There was a little angle in there for me. (Isn't there always?) I was planning to feel superior to the other people in the equation because they weren't as righteous & selfless as I clearly was.
That, my friends, will not get you an endorphin high.
So I think maybe I need to get my holiday mojo back on. My native good cheer needs a jump start. My heart needs to relearn how to be good and generous and truly giving. Anybody have a story of holiday giving they can share that'll reteach my grinchy old self how to be good and kind again?