The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 30, 2013

Don’t be like a black hole

Enid News and Eagle

— Are you grumpy or sweet most of the time? Think about it.

My  wise grandma used to tell us that what we are at 40 years of age, we will be twice that at 80 years old. If one is happy and positive at 40, then they will be twice as delightful and secure at 80. However, if they are a grump and negative at 40, then they will probably be unbearable and surly at 80. Most of that is up to each one of us.

Abe Lincoln had many problems with his health, the Civil War decisions, his family’s problems and running the country, yet he said we are about as happy as we make up our minds we are going to be. Wasn’t he wise — and right?

Life is much too short to go through our years in a foul mood and grouchy and grumpy all the time. Yet, we all know someone who never seems to see the bright side of anything. They seem like such a sour-puss all the time. I often wonder just what happened in their lifetime that made them so unhappy and out of sorts with the world. Don’t you just want to hug them ... or shake them?

I truly feel sorry for people who never say a kind word about anyone or anything.   They go through life looking down at the ground, never looking up to see the beauty and joy of each day. People just shun them because they don’t want to get sucked into their negative mood. They are almost like a black hole, that sucks us under with them. If we cannot cheer them up, then it is better to stay away from people like that, who drag us down to their level of depression and attitude. They are mad at the whole world.

On the other hand, isn’t it fun and a joy to be around positive, happy people? As you know, I am a member of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). I will be a part of that wonderful organization for the rest of my life, because of the  delightful people who go there with a common purpose. There is so much more to it than losing weight.  It is the people involved who are so encouraging and happy and joyful. We all come with a happy mood and encourage each other in our effort to lose weight. Whether we lose or not, we all gain something, and that is inspiration and joy.

The laughter and fun that we share is as important to our  well-being as the actual weight loss itself. It is encouraging to be around people who are making the most of their lives. They see beauty in everyone and everything.  None of us look for negative, so we do not see negative things in life.

I was raised around happy, hard-working people who always saw good in everything. They did not complain, criticize or gripe about their lot in life. They just took one wonderful day at a time and gave it the most that they had. Therefore, every day gave wonderful things back to them. Even in terminal illness, they never complained, but appreciated life one day at a time. One day at a time!

Sad to say, but the  “grumpies” are the ones we seem to remember instead of the kind, happy, sweet people who smile at everyone and just seem to exude joy as they walk along. The grouches have a little black cloud that hovers over  their heads as they shuffle along. What makes some people grumpy, and the same set of circumstances allows a happy person to be happy? Can they not see that every cloud has a silver lining?

Jim has a wonderful old Marine friend in Blackwell who was taken prisoner by the Japanese at Wake Island during World War II. He was forced to work in the coal mines four years with no outside contact. He went from a strong, healthy Marine to skin and bones. When the end of the war came, he was allowed to leave the prison camp. He returned to the United States, married and raised a beautiful family.  

Dale is always so upbeat and positive that it is contagious. Jim asked him once how he could stay so happy after all he had been through.  He replied that every day he has is more than he ever dreamed or thought he would have.

I look at Dale and Jim and ask myself, “What right do I ever have to be grouchy, when those two have been through so much and stay so full of joy?” Grumpy or sweet is a choice we all make!  It affects everything we do.

I feel sorry and sad for people who are “down-in-the-mouth” all the time. Life must be terrible for them, and dark and unrewarding. They see only the cloud and not the silver lining around it. Don’t we wish we had the magic words to cheer them?

We have to accept that some people are sweet and some are sour, and there is little one can do to change their basic makeup, unless they want to change! Guess some recipes are the same way — sweet and sour. Take, for instance, this sweet/sour chicken. Use fish or shrimp if you prefer — we don’t!

Sweet/Sour Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips

3⁄4-cup chopped green pepper

1⁄2 cup chopped carrot

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon  soy sauce

11⁄2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

2 cups cold water, divided

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1⁄2 cup broken cashew nut pieces

3 green onions, chopped (optional)

Cook chicken in oil until done, but not necessarily browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Then cook peppers, carrot and  garlic in oil until tender. Add sugar (starting with 1⁄2 cup unless you  like things real sweet), vinegar, soy sauce, bouillon granules and 11⁄2 cups cold water.

Bring to a boil and boil rapidly one minute. Mix cornstarch and 1⁄2 cup cold water, then stir into hot mixture. Cook and stir until bubbly. Stir in cooked chicken strips and cashews. Serve over hot rice with chopped green onions. Sometimes, I stir in chopped celery and cabbage when I am cooking the peppers and carrots.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.