Emily Parnell — To turn a rotten day around, there’s nothing like looking at a shark with human teeth

10/22/2013 4:27 PM

10/22/2013 4:28 PM

What do you do when your mood turns south? Do you have a go-to measure of re-centering your day? A fail-proof antidote for stress?

I’m a fairly laid-back person, and I prefer to keep my proverbial glass half-full, but occasionally I get off-kilter. My schedule piles up or the kids wig out, and then I run short on patience or confidence or time or whatever-the-heck-it-is-I-need-at-the-moment.

There are oodles of ways to handle this, of course. One way is to hunker down and just ride those moments out. Or, if you’re in a glum, self-punishing mood, you can let them pile on top of each other until your little bumps in the road feel like a mountain. Finding a way to stay positive is always preferable to me. Problem-solving in a good mood is way more fun than plowing through with a bad attitude.

Experts offer all kinds of advice on how to happy-up. Meditating, focusing on the bright side, exercising and singing in the shower top many lists. Super-experts with Ps, Hs, and Ds after their names provide therapy and write prescriptions. Non-experts dip into their own arsenals ranging from stress-eating to wine-o-ing and beyond.

I’ve tried quite a few methods. I’ve put on jogging shoes and gone for a miserable run. (I loathe running.) I’ve called friends to vent or to laugh, purchased new jackets, and even headed to the bathtub with a glass of chardonnay. I’ve poured chocolate syrup on Pringles. I’ve announced a “new plan” for the day, loaded up the family and headed out on an adventure. All of these have merit.

Recently, I discovered a new medicine for malaise that’s calorie-free, instantaneous, appropriate for all ages, and if I were to venture a guess, should be effective for roughly 97.9 percent of the population. They’re goofy. They’re friendly. No doubt, they’re Photoshopped, and they’ve earned a spot as the screensaver on my cell phone, at my fingertips at all hours of the day.

They are sharks with human teeth. A Google-able phenomenon that pulls numerous results of human grins artfully imposed upon the usually menacing mouths of sharks. In one, a tongue lolls from the silly grin. Some guffaw, others cackle, and others suffer from 3-foot-wide overbites. One thing they all have in common, they make me giggle.

If I’m knee deep in a dilemma that makes my head spin and my spirits sink, I just click on my phone for an instant mood-lift. If I’m with someone who’s not smiling, I flash a glimpse of my cell phone, then their faces light up.

Sometimes my kids join me and we spend some time laughing together. Usually we expand our subject matter. We find YouTube videos using search terms terms like “goats that yell like humans” and “cats sliding into boxes.” We have a favorite image “frog with human teeth” that can be found when the sharks become old hat. And when we’re really having fun, we watch, and sing along to, the new Internet sensation, the music video by Ylvis, “What Does the Fox Say?”

They’re good for a chuckle, and they also remind me that the world is full of funny people who like to have fun. People who like to laugh and have others laugh alongside them. People who can transform the scary, vicious sharks of the deep and turn them into a smile.

It’s enough to lift anyone’s mood.

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