When we became parents, my wife and I began participating in a holiday tradition that many parents take part in each year: the annual "Santa with the kids" photo.
And as any parent of young children can tell you, attempting to get said photo can really be a hit-or-miss experience.
Take our 2013 photo, for instance...
Depending on the way you look at life, this "screaming babies" photo is either one of the worst Santa photos ever taken or one of the very best.
Chloë and Aidan (aged almost three and 18 months at the time, respectively) were clearly not willing participants.
And to say I was not amused that day would be putting it very, very mildly.
I was frustrated my two young children weren't willing to cooperate for the 15 seconds the photographer needed to take a decent photo... and angry I'd end up having to pay $45 for something that wasn't "picture perfect".
And so because this photo was the best we could get, I was in a miserable mood for the rest of the day. What a waste!
Except the waste wasn't because of the "bad photo" I purchased. It was because I let ten minutes of a bad situation I couldn't control ruin the next ten hours of that day.
Right after we finished up with Mall Santa, my wife tried to get me to see the humour in the situation. She said that, in time, I'd find the whole thing amusing, and that it would make for a good story.
And you know what? She was right. Today, I think this photo is absolutely hilarious.
But it was tough to see it while I was in the moment.
What I needed was a delayed perspective.
A bad meeting. A bad date. A bad drive. A bad review. A bad picture with Santa...
Things aren't always going to go the way you want them to, and when they don't, you're probably not going to be very happy about it. That's perfectly natural.
But it's best not to let ten minutes you can't control ruin the entire rest of your day.
In his book, Meditations, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote, "You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."
He wrote those words two thousand years ago, but they aren't any less true today.
P.S. A hat-tip to James Clear and his 3-2-1 newsletter: this week's edition (which contained the Marcus Aurelius quote) arrived just as I was finishing up this post, and I thought it was a nice way to wrap things up.
P.P.S. It took 11 years, but I think all four kids are finally okay taking pictures with the big guy! The one in red, to be clear...