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15 Ways to Deal with the Grinches in Your Life

In 1957, the incomparable Dr. Seuss unleashed one of his most memorable characters, the scowling, green-hued Grinch. This, of course, is the cranky guy who seeks to ruin Christmas and rob others of holiday joy.

The term “grinch” went on to be applied not only to the Seussian character, but to all sorts of people who exhibit his qualities—ornery, selfish, and ill-tempered.

Know anyone like that? The grinches in our lives may be most noticeable around the holidays, but they get under our skin all year around. Here are ways to handle the grinchy types in your life:

1. Reinforce your emotional armor. In other words, don’t allow sarcastic comments and offensive antics to penetrate your vital organs (such as your heart and brain).

2. Keep on smiling. A simple and genuine smile is usually the best antidote for poisonous attitudes and actions.

3. Realize that most grinch-like people are hurting down deep. No, this doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it should help us be a bit more patient.

4. Beware of mood transference. Research has shown that one person’s dominant mood—positive or negative—transfers to others in close proximity, like a virus spreading. Don’t let another person’s foul mood put YOU a foul mood.

5. Use positive words to counter negativity. As the proverb says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

6. Lighten the mood with humor. A funny comment or joke can defuse a tense moment and maybe even lift the grinch’s spirit.

7. Practice the art of letting go. The ability to let go of criticism and insults is a key to surviving all of the grinches you encounter. Shrug it off and move on.

8. Soak in all the good things around you. A grinch may seem to dominate your life (at least briefly) because negativity spreads out like toxic waste. Whether during the holidays or other times, there is always much more in your world that will lift you up rather than tear you down.

9. Perform a random act of kindness. Even the smallest gesture could go a long way to thawing a cold heart.

10. Take responsibility only for yourself. You can’t control others’ actions, but you can control your reactions.

11. Find a friendly ally. As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers. So if you must interact with a grinch, bring along someone with a bright disposition.

12. Don’t let a grinch get the best of you. Prickly people often want to evoke a response from others.

13. Keep your distance. If you do find that a grinch is getting to you and tainting your outlook, take evasive action. Sometimes the best solution is to stay away.

14. Believe that the grinch in your life can change for the positive. Remember how the Seuss story ended? The grouchy guy realized the error of his ways and resolved to change. Encourage, hope, and pray for the grump in your world to do the same.

15. Take it from Dr. Seuss — hearts really do change. As the good doctor put it:

And what happened then?
Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!

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