There was a very long period of my life where I was conditioned to always see the negative in nearly every situation. And let me tell you, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy at that point. When all you can see is the downside of every situation, you seemingly attract negativity. Before you know it, the entire world is out to get you, and you are an utterly depressed, miserable specimen of a human being.
(This is another one of those posts where I feel very philosophical, but in reality, I’m probably just rambling, leaving my readers questioning whether or not I’m experiencing an early onset midlife crisis. I’m not, at least I don’t think so.)
But one day, through a series of very unfortunate (or, perhaps in retrospect, fortunate) events, I found myself in the bottom of a very dark proverbial hole that I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper into. And I finally realized that if I ever wanted out of that hole, I’d have to snap out of this self imposed attitude problem that was only making the unfortunate situation at hand much, much worse.
So I did it.
I quite literally immediately stopped dwelling on anything negative, and instead forced myself to see the positive in every single situation, no matter how ridiculous it seemed at the time. Let me emphasize the word “forced”…it was terribly difficult to do at first, and often times somewhat laughable. For example:
Toddler just took his diaper off and pooped all over the floor? How fantastic that his bowels work properly, yay healthy kid!
Burnt the other kids breakfast? How incredibly lucky are we that toasters even exist!
Then I dropped the plate breakfast was to be served on, shattering it into a million pieces? That’s OK! We have more plates! How fortunate!
You get the idea. The ridiculous positivity truly helped me work through the bigger picture at the time, and aided in seeing that some of the really heartbreaking events that I was going through truly would only benefit me and make me stronger in the end. That having to start all over again was a blessing, not a curse. That at the end of the day, the only one in charge of my happiness was ME.
And that split decision to simply see things differently, no matter how hard I had to force it at the time, was truly life changing. Years later, I most definitely consider myself a “glass half full” optimistic type of person. Sure, I still have my moments, like this morning when I called my neighbor the dreaded C-word under my breath as she passed me in the parking lot of our apartment building, because apparently I wasn’t speeding through our neighborhood fast enough. But as soon as it came out of my mouth, I added something like “oh well, she must be having a bad day. I, however, am not, and it’s nice to not be in a rush.” And I truly meant and felt it. See? Positivity rocks.
I always try to see the good in every situation. As a result, my life is far more positive and happy…and I’m sure my blood pressure a lot lower than it could be.
But all of that said, there comes a point when you have to not always glaze over the negative and focus solely on the positive. When the “things aren’t bad, and they could be much worse” attitude results in complacency. Complacency, by definition, is an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction. Complacency can be self defeating, and even downright dangerous.
Case in point: I just quit my job.
And by “quit” I mean I did the responsible adult thing and gave two weeks (plus a few extra days) notice. My job wasn’t a bad job, by any means. In fact, it was a pretty great one. I loved my clients. My coworkers were great. The facility was superb. But the hours and the commute prevented me from really working towards what I am truly passionate about, and that is sharing my love and knowledge of fitness and running through my writing. It is my dream job, and one that I can almost feel within reach, one that I’ve been flirting with for years, and now I am desperately trying to make work.
The positive side of me exclaimed “but you’re doing OK at the gym. Sure, you’ll never ‘make it big’ there, but the bills are getting paid, and besides, don’t need much! You are working hands on with clients, great clients at that! Yeah, the commute sucks. Yes, the hours are unpredictable and causing stress in your personal life. But I should be grateful I have a job, right? It could be worse…RIGHT?”
YES, it could be worse. But how does “yes it could be worse?” help further my career or get me closer to achieving my dreams? The answer is: it doesn’t.
So despite my rose-colored-glasses outlook, I took a leap of faith. Because after 34 years I’ve finally begun to realize that you can’t sit around and wait for opportunities to present themselves…sometimes you have to chase after them, trusting that the potential benefits of going out on a limb far outweighs the risk. And even if you never do benefit, at least you will never regret not taking the chance, you’ll never regret the “what if’s”.
Which is pretty scary in and of itself.
So what’s my point here? Being thankful and grateful for what you have will totally change your outlook on life. But… trying to better your situation, or make yourself happier, does not necessarily mean that you aren’t thankful for what you currently have. Both things can occur at the same time, and I think it’s so important to remember that.
So there is your Heather’s-semi-motivational-rambling post for the week. It’s cliché but it’s painfully true: you only have one chance at this life. Do something kickass today. MAKE your happy. Follow your dreams.