As temperatures plummet and the news is filled with reports of fierce winter storms up north, I find myself humming the old song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” My favorite version is by James Taylor (with Natalie Cole):
And I can’t stop thinking about a simple but profound truth I heard many years ago:
In life, we will either be a THERMOMETER or a THERMOSTAT.
Thermometers merely reflect the temperatures around them. If it’s cold outside, a thermometer will let you know.
It’s not hard to be a thermometer. You just have to report and reflect the conditions around you.
Lots of people are like that. When you ask them how things are going, they simply give you a weather report concerning their present circumstances. Allowing themselves to be controlled by external situations, their mood goes up and down according to what’s happening around them.
However, some people have learned to be a thermostat instead. Rather than just accepting and reflecting the temperature around them, they have a way of changing the temperature in every situation they are in. When it’s cold outside, they warm things up. When conflicts arise and relationships get uncomfortably hot, they know how to generate cooling breezes.
Too often, I have found myself acting like a thermometer, with my mood bouncing up and down based on the people and events around me.
By nature I am a sensitive and intuitive person. This sensitivity has its advantages, for I am often able to pick up on the “vibes” of others, sensing whether they are happy, angry, or sad.
However, my sensitivity also causes some problems. Sometimes I literally need to turn it off in order to live in peace with other people.
As a child I often felt responsible for the moods and emotions of those around me. This started in my own family and then extended to my other relationships as well.
It was many years before I saw how codependent this mindset was. I discovered that I could not control the moods of others, nor should I allow their moods to affect mine.
What a great joy it is to finally realize that we need not allow other people to impose their moods or miseries on us. We are responsible for our own attitudes and actions, and no one should be permitted to make us mad, sad, or bad. There will be days when our boss, family, or friends will be disgruntled, but that should not determine our state of mind.
A joy-filled person can transform the atmosphere of his or her environment, because joy is not based on emotions or circumstances. It is a consciously chosen mindset designed to spread light in darkness.
So, how can you be a thermostat today? Smile at people. Greet them with a kind word. Praise others around you. Speak respectfully to your boss, even if they are being a jerk. Strive for excellence. Dress well. Exert your fullest effort at what you do best.
Who knows? You might just change the world.
Read more from Mary Buchan on her blog