Friday, January 20, 2017

Positively Positive

I’ve mentioned this a few times before in previous posts, but I have never really discussed it deeply before.  So for this post, I want to talk about staying positive. The word “positive” to me is surrounded with so many negative connotations.  At times in our current society, positivity is portrayed as annoying and simply overbearing. I think we all know the person I’m talking about. The person in the office who arrives to work like this…

So excited that today is the day we work late!
I’m just plum excited to spend more time with you guys!!

I think the reason that this kind of image sometimes pops in our mind when we hear the term positive, is that we confuse it with “happy”. There’s a major difference because being positive and being happy all of the time. Forcing ourselves to be happy when we feel sad or upset is just ridiculous in my opinion. It just puts so much pressure on ourselves to get over whatever we are dealing with that caused that sadness. However, it’s very possible to be simultaneously sad and positive. To me being positive isn’t a reflection of our current mood, but more a contentment in our hearts.  It’s reminding ourselves that no matter what happens we are loved and valuable. I’m not saying that everything works out in the end. Tragedy happens. When those events occur, it is pretty much impossible to feel any joy. All happiness is sucked from our world, and we are just left with raw heartache. It’s at those times we need positivity the most. In those situations, it’s my opinion that positivity isn’t always found looking into the future, but at times reflecting on the past. Embracing past blessings, people, and experiences can change the way we view ourselves and situations.

Another misconception with “positive people” is that they are always trying to cheer people up. To be honest, when I’m feeling down I can’t stand when someone decides to “cheer me up”.

 I’m sorry your dog died and you got fired from your job.
Good news though! I picked up “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” from Redbox on the way over to your house. That should pick you right up. That Kevin James is just a hoot!

No.  The intent shouldn’t be to cheer people up. We all need to fully feel and process our emotions, not just to rush through them to find happiness as quickly as possible. The goal is “encouragement”. We can grieve with people or share frustration, while providing encouragement without even saying a word. That’s why I love encouraging others. I view it as my purpose in life.

For example, to cheer someone up is like finding your friend stuck in a hole with a broken arm and tossing down a rope for them to pull themselves up. It’s a quick one-time thing. Even if you succeed in cheering them up, they pulled themselves up on a rope with a broken arm. They didn’t have time for their arm to heal before being made to climb up a rope they weren’t ready to tackle. However to encourage someone is to jump down in that hole with them. Sit patiently and listen to their story of how the bone broke. Learn the best way to set the break. After they are ready to climb out, lift them from the bottom. Carry their weight. Encouragement is a process. It’s a commitment to our friend that we believe and support them.  That can look an million different ways. The main goal we don’t need to make people feel happy when they are sad, we want them to feel loved.

While I believe in the idea of people being either an optimistic, pessimistic, or realist, I also feel that some of these things can be affected by our attitude. (Side note: I’m not saying either of these is better than the other. To be honest, l believe each of these types has their own benefits. It’s just this post is about the perks of being positive, so that’s what I’m discussing.) I say this because I was born a realist. “Things are just the way things are. A positive outlook won’t change anything.” That was pretty much how I viewed life until my divorce. I still believe that’s somewhat true. But now God showed me that having a positive outlook on life won’t always change situations, but it will change the way I view them. To me that is just such an amazing thought. We can fill our hearts with the stress, worry, and turmoil of life around us, or we can fill our hearts with the goodness, love, and humor around us. I choose the second choice. Each day, I purposely look for the good in people. If something frustrating happens, I try to think of a helpful solution. Then when I think of one, I feel satisfied with myself. When the house is messy or the kids are acting crazy, I try to just enjoy the moment. I've heard so many times "treat everyone as if they are a potential friend". I love that so much. The same thing applies to each day "treat everyday as if it is potentially the best day". Of course, not fun stuff happens everyday. I just choose not to focus on that. I'm alive not dead. I want to focus on things that bring me life, not death. 

My boss sent me this one day. Hahahaha. I still love it.

Here’s another thing I have found (kind of going back to the first point I made). While some might find the constantly upbeat, perky, and always happy person a bit obnoxious, we are all drawn to people with a positive heart. Being positive will not always directly change our situation. However, staying positive in our situations might inspire others. Humans crave contentment and fulfillment. Keeping an uplifting view on our life sets us apart. It’s portraying a real, raw view at our lives. Sure bad things happen. Yes we feel heartbroken, but having inner peace and hope throughout is the kind of thing people notice. It’s like a beacon of peace and comfort to those who find themselves in similar situations or feelings.

Once we start to focus on the good, it’s just so awesome how everything appears different. Activities that were once tedious and boring become productive and purposeful. The actual tasks don’t change, but the feeling we have during the situations do. The meaning behind it all is radically altered. For example, take my laundry. I HATE doing laundry. It’s the most mind numbing and annoying thing on this earth. I used to constantly put it off because in my head I viewed it as the worst. Lately, I’ve been trying to find the good in doing laundry. Neater clothes, quicker times getting dressed, outfits that actually match. Now, I’ve been doing *a little* better at managing our clothes. Having that goodness and outlook on doing laundry has actually been making it much more bearable. In both views, the act of doing the laundry never changed; only my attitude did. However, I’ve noticed that once I start to enjoy something, I will do it more often. I discovered that by changing my concept of laundry has actually decreased the amount of clothes lying around the floor in random piles.

True Story

Lastly, I want to admit that being positive can be a major struggle. My life just like everyone else’s has crap. At times, I just want to be mad and see everything around me as horrible. ;)

Ugh, I hate when birds chirp so cheerfully.

Finding the good in things can not only be difficult, but truthfully it can be exhausting as well. Then I resort to trying to “cheer” myself up, which just makes me more mad and frustrated with life. Getting out of those little funks can be difficult. I’ve only ever found one solution that works every time... Time with my heavenly Papa. The refreshment He provides in indescribable. I’ve found that if I don’t set aside time every day for that alone time, my positivity will run out rather quickly. Hahahaha, Ole’ Seth isn’t cool enough to do it alone. It’s just something I love about loving God. It’s just an all-around beautiful cycle of love - He loves me. I love Him. I love myself. He loves me.

Lastly, I purposefully tried not to about specific ways to live out being positive or encourage others. I did this because I don’t feel it should require a major plan or checklist. It’s just an organic reaction to the love of God and the love of others. Once we feel loved, valued, and encouraged, a confidence and uplifting mindset can form all on its own. Passing that on to others doesn’t require fancy gifts, eloquent speeches, or amazing acts of service. It can be as simple as a smile.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

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