Embracing the Yuck, Creating Some Yum!

Wimg_8585-muddyboots-finalforfbhile typing a birthday wish to a friend, I watched the above phrase appear on the page, and thought, “Ooh! I like that!” What a fun way to sum up… life!

This morning I had a half dozen conversations, with friends, clients, colleagues, about how each of them is doing just that – embracing the “yuck” and creating some “yum” in their lives. I listened with great respect to their stories about various challenges – physical, emotional, spiritual – and about the courage each was exhibiting in choosing to look at the glass as not just half full, but overflowing. And each was also consciously “changing the flavor” of its contents to up the “yum factor.“ An example:

An eighty-year-old friend was choosing to reframe “I’m old and in pain” to “I’m still alive and kicking!” The “flavor” was further enhanced by his conscious appreciation of the fact that, as we age, we eventually retire from our previous occupation so we can devote full time and energy to what keeps us alive and thriving…including a fair amount of time just caring for the body itself. “Like it’s all part of the Plan or something,” he suggested.

Do his joints still ache? Does he still have to move with greater caution so he doesn’t fall and injure his more frail bones? Sure. But by embracing these facts of life, rather than resisting, railing against or being depressed by them, he’s choosing to laugh at the lengths he now has to go to “just to warm up the old bones for the day.”

He’s choosing to keep doing the things that inspire him and ignite his passion for life. In his case, that includes singing, dancing (albeit in a modified form these days) and finding ways to be of service to others.

Being of service. Therein, methinks, lies the golden key to turning yuck into yum.

When life begins to suck me into a “poor me” vortex and I become microcosmically focused on my own “yuck”, I’ve found the best antidote is to ask myself, “How can I be of service? How can I brighten someone else’s day?”

And here’s the really cool part: it doesn’t take much to brighten someone else’s day. Simply smiling at someone can turn his or her whole day around.

Yesterday I was in the post office, taking my place at the end of a very long line. Within a moment or two, a young woman took her place in line behind me. She was humming softly. I soon found myself humming along with her. That led to my asking what the name of the tune was. (Neither of us could recall.) I told her how lovely it was to hear someone humming in a public place, that it really brightened my day. The woman now behind her in line immediately added: “Mine too! I heard you over by the mailboxes and it made me smile.” The three of us went on to have a lovely conversation, passing the lengthy wait in seemingly no time.

“Yum” affects those around you. So does “yuck.”

A poem by Shel Silverstein:


I stepped in something yucky

As I walked by the crick.

I grabbed a stick to scrape it off,

The yuck stuck to my stick.

I tried to pull it off the stick,

The yuck stuck to my hand.

I tried to wash it off–but it

Stuck to the washin’ pan.

I called my dog to pull me loose,

The yuck stuck to his fur.

He rubbed himself against the cat,

The yuck got stuck to her.

My friends and neighbors came to help–

Now all of us are stuck,

Which goes to show what happens

When one person steps in yuck.

So, the next time you feel stuck in yuck, I offer this challenge: Ask yourself, “How can I create some yum?”

Create it for yourself, by reframing the challenges – find a way to perceive the glass as half full. Flavor its contents – how can you make it even more yummy?

Create some yum for someone else – Smile! Hum. Call someone just to see how they’re doing (and really listen when they tell you.) Send a snail mail card or letter to someone you care about. Make a phone call to volunteer for a cause you believe in… The list of ways to be of service goes on. But remember, sometimes a simple smile is all that’s needed… for both the receiver and the giver.

Try it. You might find it delightfully yummy.

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