We’ve all heard the message. Every doctor I’ve had during my Pink Dot Detour with Triple Negative Breast Cancer has told me.
Your attitude is everything. Your perception matters. You are what you think.
Why does it matter? It changes your outcome. People CAN and DO die of broken hearts. People can wish themselves ill. Hypochondriacs can often die the death they fear the most. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’ve always been a positive, glass half full type person … but it wasn’t really something I thought about. Somehow – through nature and nurture – I ended up with a set of coping skills that saw me through most of my life. Life’s minor stresses ricocheted off my happy smile.
Then the life stresses began to pile on in thicker layers … The Resilience Factor
One by one, they added up and my usual coping mechanisms weren’t working. Surely some of the advice, tricks and training tips can show me the path to achieving a permanently positive mindset?
- How do you focus on the positive things in your life when you feel like life and love have passed you by?
- How do you surround yourself with more positive people?
- How the fuck do you really practice mindfulness?
- How do you really believe your dream will come true?
- How do you only use positive words? Especially with yourself?
- Practice gratitude?
- Practice God’s grace and kindness?
- Deep breathing? I find it makes me more nervous …
- Turn that frown upside down?
- Keep going when you hit crisis after crisis?
- Eat clean, healthy food, exercise and get enough sleep when I just want to drink? And can’t sleep without sleeping pills?
- Remember that positivity is a choice?
Really? While I go through divorce, parenthood, death, job and financial stress, relationship stress all alone? Then I was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, five months of chemo and one month of radiation … WHILE trying to get around on a broken leg. Which requires surgery. How far down do I get to go? When can I stop smiling?
But why is it so hard?
Well … for one thing, our brains aren’t designed to be happy all the time. They were designed to keep us alive … to survive. Our grey matter scans for problems to solve. Fight or flight. Once we have conquered surviving the risky moment, then we can have a little shot of happiness. Our negavitivy bias kept us alive. Negative experiences or the fear of them have a more profound impact on our learning than most positive experiences. Yes, we all relish the rush that comes from doing something right and doing it well. But in order to ride that horse, we had to crawl, climb, walk, fall, fall off, and get singed by fire.
We velcro in the negative experiences – into our long-term memory – but teflon our positive ones. Positive experiences have to last over 12 seconds before they are transferred to our memories. I doubt I held my hand on the hot stove that long to realize I never wanted to do it again.
It’s easy for our brains to flip us over into the downward spiral of negativity. So how do you stop it?
You figure out what works for you. Hopefully someday, somewhere and somehow, something someone says will resonate and challenge your negative-loving reptilian brain.
It has been proven that spiritual people tend to be happier. Why? While of the atheist and agnostic mindset, I used to think that religious folks took the easy way out. They turned it over to God. But as I became more spiritual, I realized that it wasn’t the easy way. It was damn hard.
Here’s what works for me.
I find the most optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.
If I got outside and down to the car, only to realize that I had forgotten my purse … I used to curse and swear and carry on about being late. Now, I just smile and say “I wasn’t supposed to be in traffic five minutes earlier.”
If I got diagnosed with cancer, I turned it into a wild roller-coaster ride of fun experiences. I looked forward my hospital appointments. I smiled. I enjoyed men checking out Heather. I had a riot radiating happiness and positivity in the chemo lounge. I remained out-going and extroverted. I had readers who reached out to thank me for showing them the way.
If I broke my leg, I realized that God was side-lining me for awhile. I needed to spend a bit more time reading, writing and navel-gazing with introspection. Yes, I had my down days where I fretted about being cooped up and how I would cope. I numbed myself down with the anti-anxiety meds I hadn’t taken while going through chemo. But … it ain’t that bad. In the last two weeks I have learned self-hypnosis, written a book and forgot to pay my cable bill.
It takes me a little while to see the lessons I have learned from people in my life; the men, the women, the bosses, the enemies. Which tells me something about me.
It isn’t always easy. Sometimes you really have to dig deep. To remain a victim leaves you standing still and unable to move forward. Push it aside and BUILD from it. While my #metoo experience is nothing compared to many stories I have heard and read this last week, I still picked out the silver lining a long time ago. The doctor who abused his power by abusing me taught me to look out for myself and others. I won’t stand aside and watch abuse happen. I speak up. I am someone’s champion.
When shit happens, retell your story where the end result is positive. Retell the story where your spouse wasn’t at fault. Don’t assume the worst in anything anyone does, including yourself. Retell the story where the best thing that ever happened to you was the job loss. As one door closes, another does indeed open.
Our negative experiences jolt us out of complacency. Necessity is the mother of all invention. I’d rather be the person I am today, with all of my experiences. The good, the bad and the ugly.
- How do you focus on the positive things in your life when you feel like life and love have passed you by? You retell your story where everything happens for a good reason.
- How do you surround yourself with more positive people? You don’t spend time with the people who drag you down.
- How the fuck do you really practice mindfulness? Be still. Be present. Be positive.
- How do you really believe your dream will come true? You have unfailing trust in yourself and God/the Universe. Life is not suffering.
- How do you only use positive words? Especially with yourself? Read The Four Agreements. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with truth and integrity, especially to yourself.
- Practice gratitude? Every day. Every night. Think about and write about what you are thankful for.
- Practice God’s grace and kindness? Be kind … everyone has a story.
- Deep breathing? I find it makes me more nervous … Breathe in 1 … 2 … 3 … Hold … Breathe out 1 … 2 … 3
- Turn that frown upside down? Smile. Even when you are sad, scared, depressed. Not only does the body follow the mind, but the mind follows the body …
- Keep going when you hit crisis after crisis? Grace, grit and determination. You can do it.
- Eat clean, healthy food, exercise and get enough sleep when I just want to drink? And can’t sleep without sleeping pills? Life is more manageable with a healthy lifestyle. How can my body regenerate my cells if I am not honouring it as a temple?
- Remember that positivity is a choice? It is.
Is there a step on the path to positivity that I forgot? Leave a message.
I would love to hear from you about what works for you. What inspires you? What motivates you? What makes you get up and keep going? What scares you … and how have you dealt with your fears? Have I helped you? Or do you still think I am crazy?
Always be the best you you can be.