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My View: When life seems dull, flip your point of view

By Anthony M. Graziano

Most people think they lead dull, bland, humdrum lives. But that’s not true. In fact, our lives are spiked with adrenaline-fired events and challenges, but we usually do not recognize them as such.

For example, the other day I bit down on a malevolent bit of chicken bone. “Yeow!” I yelped, and took my distress to Dr. Steve, our family dentist. He shined a light in, looked at it, poked around with a pointed object and said, “Look at that, I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ve sheared off one side of the tooth and there’s the nerve, hanging right out there for all to see. This is one for the textbooks!”

“Wonderful,” I mumbled around Dr. Steve’s hand in my mouth while desperately pushing deeper into the chair to escape my hotly jangling tooth.

But the idea was intriguing, a potential adventure. “You know,” I said, my voice muffled but eager, “I’ve written a lot of textbooks but never has one been written about me. So, let’s do it. We’ll make medical history.”

Dr. Steve and I haven’t written that textbook, but the episode – from its tooth-crunching beginning to its intriguing writing idea – was a sharp blast that turned an ordinary dull day into something a lot more interesting. And that’s the point. Who says life is dull?

Another example: “Oh no,” Sheila says. “My clothes are ruined, they’re all wet, from the rain!”

Anthony M. Graziano.

I look up from the novel I’m reading, feeling a little irritated at the interruption, and peer out the window. It is raining.

“So,” I say, not realizing until too late that my words carry insufficient sympathy or interest, an unfortunate lapse committed even by husbands more astute than I. “Why didn’t you take an umbrella?”

“In the closet?” she says, hands on hips, her tone, if not her words, questioning my very intelligence.

Ah, yes, the closet. I look inside. It is raining in there. Another adventure dawns as I picture a visit in the morning by our roofing contractor.

To lighten things up I say, “But look, it’s only this end that’s wet. See, most of the closet is perfectly dry.”

My lame joke only brings a gathering dark expression on my wife’s face, so I hasten to add the perfectly reasonable observation, “But, you have too many clothes anyway. Right?”

Wrong. And that’s what finally turned an ordinary dull day into a nicely spirited one.

So, life need not be dull, one need only embrace happily – rather than be annoyed at – all those events that add zip and zest to our lives. Most events are small, some are large, some involve people or money. A couple of months ago we won a lottery drawing. OK, so $8 isn’t much, but it did liven up that day, at least for a little while.

And, speaking of money, there was that congratulatory email telling me that $2.5 million are about to be deposited into my credit card account and all I need do is send my Social Security number and credit card information to a bank in Nairobi. When they receive that information, the money will be mine. A good laugh that livened up an otherwise dull day.

If interesting things, small or large, do not occur and your day has been particularly dull, you can always tune in to the mostly unbelievable antics, public statements, tweets and truth-dodging tap-dance routines of our highest officials in Washington. Who says life is dull?

Anthony M. Graziano, Ph.D., is an author and professor emeritus in psychology at the University at Buffalo.

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