I am a positive person. Michael might disagree at 4:10 am when I got up for my flight to Denver last week, but most of the time I’m just a happy camper. Sure, I can be a downer, just like everyone. But my theory is that if I keep a happy outlook, the hard things around me will eventually become easier.
These last few weeks (err months) have been particularly stressful. I’ll just lay it all out here.
This past year Michael and I have been making plans to move abroad. While our close friends and family knew, it was hard to keep it in. Then, we found out a few months ago that Michael’s mom, my mother-in-law’s, cancer returned. This is the third round of a very intense lymphatic breast cancer that has clearly knocked her out. Possibly for good this time.
I have seen cancer a lot in my family. My little sister had leukemia and my Dad, melanoma. Both were heart wrenching to experience. You feel helpless in a situation you desperately want to rectify. You can’t ease the pain of the person you love.
These last few weeks have been full of tough choices. Do we continue to make the move abroad? (She has been very vocal about us still going ahead.) Do we change our flights? Where do we move our belongings that were in her house?
With all of this stress and sadness and change, I’m trying my best to keep a positive perspective. For Michael’s sake and for my own. I don’t have time to crack under pressure.
Just the other day someone called me out. They said, man, it must be nice to always be happy. And I’m not. Just because I have a smile on my face, doesn’t mean I’m not hurting inside. But I truly think that happy is a state of mind. You can change your perspective. You don’t have to ruin a whole week or day or year by focusing on the bad.
Being positive can impact your whole life.
Your job, your relationships, your finances, your friendships, and achieving your goals. The list goes on and on.
Here’s how you can stay positive, no matter what.
Note, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel other emotions. But here’s how to regain that happiness you thought you lost or turn your day around.
Focus on the good
If something bad happens, focus on the good. I know this sounds very simple but it can really change your point of view. Instead of wallowing in the hardship, focus on how you can change your outcome. My husband Michael is a perfect example of this. He is watching his Mom slip away, yet continues to be kind to everyone around him. And in turn, they are kind to him. Yesterday, he bough kolaches for everyone that has helped take care of his mom. Just to be sweet. He is focusing on the good people in his life and also helping keep himself positive.
Do Something Different
Whenever I’m really down, I’ll pick up a favorite book or watch Mean Girls. It distracts me from whatever pains me and helps me to realize that life is simple: we just want to be happy. That’s really our goal in life.
If something is truly awful, change your situation.
I remember being at a job I detested. It was honestly ruining my life. The 45 minute commute plus the terrible work environment rendered me useless after my 8-5. I decided I needed to get over it and move on. I needed to find a job where I could be truly happy. That job, now, is working for myself. Everyday I worked and chipped away until I could achieve that goal.
Distract with a Challenge
One of my favorite people, James Clear, mentions “The Goldilocks Rule” to stay motivated. This can apply to anything, especially keeping positive: “The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”
So, find something that can challenge you, mentally or physically, and this will help bolster your overall morale. Take a new class or a challenge.
This past year I took a photography class and I was totally nervous. I knew I could do it, but it definitely put me out of my comfort zone. Every Monday night I looked forward to my class- no matter what I had going on. This was a great way for me to work hard and learn something and kept myself from falling into the monotonous routine of sameness or allowed me to focus on something good.
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Stop and think about the things, people, etc that you are grateful for can make such a huge difference in overall happiness. It will instantly put a smile on your face to know that others care about you. You aren’t in this alone.
Thinking of what you’re thankful for helps position you in the present, instead of dwelling in the past, especially a hurtful one.
Some things you can do: write that thank you note, send someone flowers, send a text just letting someone know you’re thinking of them.
Fake it til You Make it
If you smile, your body will instantly feel happier. Just like if you sit up straight helps you to focus and appear thinner. Forcing yourself to breathe, recover, and move forward is not a way to mask feelings, it’s a way to prove to yourself that you can and will manage.
I believe that time heals all wounds. But it’s not fair to the world around you to take out everything on them. This is something I need reminding of. I often take out my frustrations on the ones closest to me (my Mom and Michael) when in reality, they are struggling to. We all are. We are all going through something different.
I remember I got so frustrated with my little sister the other day. She was telling me how STRESSED and BUSY she was. I sat and thought, um yeah, I am moving across the world, selling all my belongings, and one of the closest people in my life is dying of cancer. But in her world, she is busy and stressed, and I have to respect that. I can’t take it to heart or compare our stress levels.
A lot of this is very simple, but can make such a hug difference. How do you stay positive?