I’m no “Positive Penny”. I’m not exactly a pessimist, but I’m not one of those peppy types either. But this isn’t about me. Ok, maybe it is.
It’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to assume the worst in people, rather than find out for yourself. It’s easy to get down about your day, when it seems that the day is just set to go downhill. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-joyed when life just keeps on delivering the punches. And sometimes, sometimes, there are truly terrible things (or itty bitty things) that happen that just warrant a good cry – and I say let it out.
But I’ve come to believe that ordinary, run of the mill negativity is a decision you make. Just like being positive is a decision. I decided a while back to be pragmatic about things. I am realistic about the way something is going. I respect the situation. But what I won’t do is focus on the negative. Focusing on the negative just breeds more negativity. Focusing on the negative even attracts more, in one way or another. Negative people, negative situations, negative feelings – they all feed off bad energy, so why feed into it?
Don’t get me wrong, this was no easy task. It’s easy to take the low road. It takes hard work to stay positive and avoid negative pitfalls.
I’m certainly no expert on…well, anything. But I can share what works for me. Maybe you could share what works for you and maybe between all of us, we can lead more positive, happy lives?
Sometimes, I just don’t want to get out of bed. It’s that simple. There is no rhyme or reason. I’d love 5 more minutes after that buzzer – but if I’m honest, sometimes I’d like 5 more hours. But, the day starts, whether I want it to or not. On those days that are so hard to get moving, I just MAKE myself – any way I can. Sometimes it’s with a little bribe – like a trip to my favorite coffee shop if I can get everything going right or sometimes it’s just a “gotta make the donuts” type thing and I just do it because I have to. But more than anything, I just try to embrace the day that lies in front of me. I try to be thankful that I have the luxury of 5 more minutes, should I need it. I try to be grateful that I get to spend the day with two of my favorite people. I focus on the positive and all of the sudden, that bed isn’t as comfy.
Sometimes it just makes sense to take a step back and assess a situation. Most people are good, yet we often assume the worst from some. Believe the best in people and they’ll often bring that to your table. Surrounding yourself with positive-thinking people brings that out in you. But be careful, it works the other way too.
Situations can breed negativity too. We’re all under incredible amounts of stress. Parenting involves so many of life’s stress triggers – fatigue, money, time-management… It’s easy, really easy, to get frustrated or let a whole day go wrong. But instead of letting one bad morning turn into a bad day – will the negativity away. Just say to yourself, “Self, I’m going to have a good day in spite of ___________ (flat tire, unexpected kitchen mess…)” If you find this hard, just look at the faces of your children, allow yourself to smile and try again.
I think my turn toward being positive came when I went through a gratitude challenge. Each day you were guided through one exercise or another toward being grateful. It changed the way I looked at things. I approached it with as much honesty and self-awareness as I could because I wanted to get the most out of it that I could. When all was said and done, I realized that consciously being grateful for the little and big things helped me see the beauty of the world around me – places, relationships, choices…
I continued with my own little challenge by spending 3 minutes (with a timer 😉 just focusing on things for which I’m grateful – little, big, paramount or miniscule. This little time to myself has become a cherished sliver of my day that I believe pays off in so many ways.
Serving others is an incredible reward. There are many ways to do this – in fact, you probably do it every day (hello, you’re parents!) But, looking around you for ways you can help is a way for positive energy to find it’s way back to you. Consider it a kharmic pat on the back, or just a good feeling – whatever you call it, you feel good when you give of yourself to others. Just do one little selfless thing today and see.
State the Obvious
Do you tell those you care about that you love/admire/respect them enough? I often get so caught up in my own life that I forget to acknowledge the amazing kindness of those in my life. Stop and tell your daughter how proud of her you are. Call your mom and tell her thanks for being there when you were a big P.I.T.A. Tell your hubby or partner how thankful you are to be with someone so loving and supportive of you.
Start with a goal of one day (or a half a day 😉 – no complaints. This is a daunting task for anyone but can really change your outlook. Give it a try. I dare you. Double dog dare, actually.
I’m sure there are many more tricks of the trade to manufacturing your own happiness. I’m sure that some of you out there know the secret to living a satisfied and happy life. Care to share? We’d love to hear it!
*This post originally ran on here in 2010 and was contributed by BirminghamMommy co-founder Jamie Bissot, who now lives in Fairhope with her family.