The way I see it, if you want the Rainbow,
You gotta put up with the Rain
If you take the time to find the perfect umbrella, choosing one with a bright and bold color, you will love the rain — and have a much more joyful life with plenty of rainbows. Here is a guide to Creating a Happy Place – Under My Umbrella (Ella Ella, Ay Ay Ay).
On our recent Spring Break Trip to Eastern Tennessee, we took our kids to Dollywood. I must admit the first time I went to Dollywood, I was not expecting to enjoy myself. A self-proclaimed New England snob, what could Pigeon Forge, Tennessee have to offer me by way of entertainment and thrills. Our first visit to Dollywood was pre-Kids and was a day-trip with the in-laws. I must admit we had a blast at Dollywood. I now triple love and admire Dolly Parton from Nine to Five to Dollywood. So, recently when we were discussing our options for Spring Break 2012, we realized our kids had not ever been to Dollywood, Gatlinburg or the Great Smoky Mountains. Of course the kids only know her from her role as Aunt Dolly, Miley Stewart’s godmother, on Hannah Montana. Since our first (pre-Kids) visit to Dollywood, the park has grown and grown and grown. Plus — the week of our designated Spring Break 2012 was also the week of the first public launch of Dolly’s new rollercoaster, the Wild Eagle. After a week of exploring all of the “must-see” attractions in Eastern Tennessee, I can honestly state that our Spring Break trip was a big success, and the kids loved Dollywood. Our kids shared that they were surprised that Dollywood was way better than they thought it would be and they admitted some initial apprehension. I would call that — Success!
Even though it was only the sixth day of the 2012 Dollywood season, the park was ready to go and filled with beautiful flowers, blooming trees, wildlife roaming freely or in natural habitats, and the weather was perfectly delightful. It was a sunny, breezy, spring day. Until the thunderstorm moved in, that is. The storm passed through quickly but it did force us to be creative during that time (and my mother-in-law decided to head home). It would have been so easy to be angry with the rain and thunder for ruining our afternoon, but we chose a positive outlook instead. It was then that I noticed a quote, from Dolly Parton herself, craftily painted over the threshold of one of the many theaters on Dollywood’s Show Street.
“The way I see it, if you want the Rainbow,
You gotta put up with the Rain”
I read it to myself and reread it and smiled. Dolly Parton strikes again. You may not believe it but try as I might to dislike everything associated with country music and (the University of) Tennessee, I admire Dolly Parton — and here she goes again. This quote was what I needed at that very moment. This experience and this quote reminded me of a theory I developed years ago as to why most people hate the rain. Regular listeners to my weekly WHUS radio show, PC Pop with Pablo, heard the theory often — as often as it rained, actually. Not to be confused with my stories about how college students, when they get wet from the rain, smell very much like wet dogs — the theory has to do with your choice of umbrellas.
As you know from my previous PC Pop blog posts, I see that the moods and behaviors of us all have to do with a phenomenon referred to as self-fulfilling prophecy. We choose our attitudes and we use self-fulfilling prophecy to prove and justify our negativity, impatience, anger, and moodiness — including behavior that is hateful, bigoted, intolerant, and disrespectful. Some of us are so bound and determined to be miserable that we create an environment for it to thrive. We want the rumors to be true so badly that we wait for and find justifications and information to support our lies. I have met individuals who would not know what to do if they didn’t have something about which to whine or someone about whom to despise; and others who direct every conversation and every situation to how they are the only true victims in this world. How utterly exhausting. Remember — we have complete control over our attitudes and our moods. Furthermore, only you can give others the power to put you in a bad mood and ruin your day and hurt you. You choose your attitude, and you choose your umbrella. (See how I brought you back to my theory about rain — clever, aren’t I.)
Next time it rains take a look at everyone’s umbrella. You will see what I have for years; and agree that it is no wonder we hate the rain. Most umbrellas are black. Now don’t get me wrong — I like black but I also like color. I have never been afraid of bright, bold colors — especially in my wardrobe. In fashion, black has its proper place. Most of the time when you wear black it is a very solemn, serious moment. Whether it is a formal evening function, a serious business meeting, or a funeral — black is not typically associated with cheerfulness. And even when you must wear basic black or formal black you usually have the option of adding a smattering of color. But a black umbrella is a black umbrella.
So when it rains — and it is a given that you already hate the rain — you can really make sure that it is a miserable experience by covering your heads in a black canopy — the Umbrella. How absolutely and utterly depressing. It makes sense that we end up dreading rainy days — even harmlessly delightful, misty rains. Imagine the next time it rains if everyone was smiling, smirking, giggling, laughing, joyful, exuberant — making others wonder what’s up and what they’re missing. My theory is that you can get this done simply by picking a better umbrella. Now there isn’t going to be one umbrella that works for everyone. So, first you must know what personally makes you giggle and smirk. Once you have a list of giggle-irresistible characters, images, animals, and colors; choose those that would make you smile in your private umbrella-place without being too corny (like a photo collage of your family). Then the fun part — finding the umbrella. I would suggest starting with a quick internet search — but if you prefer the social experience of the good ole brick’n’mortar, then go shopping. Be creative — think unique, colorful, bright, and funky. Some of the best umbrellas can be found in the most unlikely places like candy stores, museums, ice cream shops, bakeries, amusement parks, comic shops, toy stores, art collective studios, book stores, garden shops, and even pet stores.
Remember what you’re looking for is an experience and an attitude — an umbrella that you can’t wait to use and makes you pray for rain. Be forewarned that once you get excited for the next opportunity to strut around town with your new umbrella — it won’t rain for days. But when it does rain, you will be ready. The first few times, I would suggest choosing that parking space that’s farther away to give you the maximum impact. And how will you know you have succeeded? When you push that button, pop open that umbrella, and swing it over your head — you will have succeeded if you get lost in the joy of your new private umbrella rain space. Ka-POW!
You probably know where I am going with this. Yes. It is about your attitude toward rain or rainy days. We all know (April) showers bring (May) flowers and also give us life — and rainbows — but we still dread seeing rain in the local weather forecast. We blame rain for a lot like ruining our entire day, canceling the parade, flooding our basements and giving us mold, destroying our vacation, giving us rain delays, and dangerous driving conditions with blinding conditions and hydroplaning. BUT — the deeper meaning is about more than rain. If we can laugh and sing and dance in the rain merely by choosing a colorful umbrella — just imagine how we can make many of the clouds we create in life disappear.
The concept is best described in the book, the FiSH! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (2000, Lundin). FiSH! Philosophy is basically a leadership and customer service model but the concepts transcend the workplace. The four principles of the FiSH! Philosophy are Be There, Play, Make Their Day, and Choose Your Attitude. All of them are powerful concepts and collectively, if practiced consistently, can transform a team. The one that really impacts me day to day though is Choose Your Attitude. According to the FiSH! Philosophy, Choose Your Attitude means taking responsibility for how you respond to what life throws at you. Once you are aware that your choice impacts everyone around you, you can ask yourself, “Is my attitude helping those around me? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?” (2000, Lundin).
The power is within all of us. The power of choice. Choosing to love the rain. Choosing the best umbrella. Choosing a positive attitude. Choosing to give ourselves permission to giggle, to smirk, to laugh, to smile, and to be exuberant.
So the next time it rains — grab your umbrella and join me Under My Umbrella – Creating a Happy Place. We’ll laugh and sing and experience life and joy — looking forward to that rainbow and enjoying those (May) flowers.
Lundin, Stephen C. (2000). FiSH! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. New York: Hyperion.
For a list of some of the better Leadership books, check out the PC Pop blog post: Leadership Books – Recommended Reading.
Bonus — Enjoy Rihanna’s “(Under My) Umbrella” Orange version featuring Jay-Z