Every time I go to print the bulletins for CAYA, I always tell the printer to print a sample first. That's because every time the sample comes out, the back side of the bulletin is upside down from the front. I have tried changing the print settings ahead of time every way that I can think of, but every time it comes out wrong. I print the sample, it's wrong, I change the settings, and it comes out fine. But if I try to change the settings ahead of time, no dice. It's still going to come out wrong. Every time. It's an exercise in futility - one that wastes not only a whole sheet of paper, but precious seconds of my work day!
Okay, so it's not really that big a deal, but it's one of those small annoyances that are easily looked over when the rest of the day is going well, but can absolutely send me over the edge when my day already has me teetering on the brink. Today is not one of those days. Today, I can sigh exasperatedly (is that a word?), shake my head, make the necessary adjustments, and go about my day. But even though this is a completely predictable experience, there are some days when this foible of the copier becomes the straw that broke the camel's back. And heaven forbid there's also a paper jam! I start channeling the guys from Office Space (note that the link will take you a censored, safe-for-work version of the scene in question).
It's a ridiculous thing to get aggravated about. For one thing, it happens every time and for another thing, the copier is an inanimate object. It's not intentionally printing the bulletin wrong to frustrate me (unless this is the extremely subtle advent of Skynet) - there's just some mechanical or computational glitch that causes it to make the error. I sometimes wonder if it's the lack of intentionality that gets to me, actually. There's no place to channel my frustration because clearly it's just a random error.
Which brings me to gratitude. Of course.
What? You don't see the connection? I read an article earlier today about rituals that can increase your happiness and the first one was gratitude. This was certainly not the first place that I've heard that gratitude is a key to a happy life, but this was the first time I'd actually seen anyone cite neurological evidence that taking time to be grateful can affect you biologically.
The truth is that taking time to ask "What am I grateful for?" and/or to express gratitude to those around you can have neurological affects, but also profound spiritual and emotional effects. Pausing to shift your focus from what is wrong to what is right, looking for the good in your life instead of the bad, and reminding yourself of all you have to be grateful for is kind of the asset-based approach to emotions. It can short-circuit that negative feedback loop we get into when annoyance piles up on frustration piles up on worry and on and on till we're about to burst. There's a reason so many of our prayers start with thanksgiving.
So today, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that even though every time the sample copy is wrong, there is an opportunity to fix the settings and print the rest correctly. I'm grateful that there are machines that can print (and fold!) these bulletins. I'm grateful that there is so much happening at our church and in our ministry that we need two sides of a bulletin to get it all in. I'm grateful that this error reminds me of the movie Office Space, which I can then quote to John Cowden and make him laugh. And I'm grateful for all of you - for all the folks whose hands this bulletin is going into.
What are you grateful for?