Remaining Optimistic in the Face of Negativity

img330There was a period of time when I was very pessimistic and angry and just not a very nice person. There was a very dark stew of emotions swirling around inside me that had no choice but to spill out on others. I didn’t want to be that way, but through a series of events beyond my control – at least that’s what I thought at the time – I became the person I didn’t want to be.

I’ve learned that when I feel the most out of control on the inside is when I am compelled to be the most controlling of things (people) around me. In other words I try to control things that I can’t possibly control while ignoring the very things that I can. It’s messed up, I know, but I also know that I’m not alone. There are millions – no billions – of people living that way right now and they are miserable and making everyone around them even more miserable.

So now I practice the habit of letting go. There’s a pretty popular saying going around these days – ‘Let go and Let God’. That’s great, but what happens when you don’t necessarily believe in God or have a religion or faith? Do you have to be stuck in a perpetual loop of holding grudges and being offended and just being a miserable person? Or can you take a deep breath and look for the real reason why you’re so pessimistic, angry, and awful in general and get past it?

I’m living proof you don’t have to be stuck and learning why and getting past it won’t kill you. In fact, I am certain it will improve you’re quality of life by say a million percent. First let’s get one thing straight, if you decide – and yes it is a decision, almost everything in life is and should be – you want to be more optimistic, you’re doing it for you. Sure it will have residual effects to those around you, just like pessimism, but this is for you.

You want less stress, less heartburn, less of everything negative in your life, learn to be optimistic – especially in the face of negative circumstances. We have a saying here in North East Ohio – ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes and it’ll change’. Well, life is a lot like that too.

Very little in life is permanent – even the worst of circumstances.

So why not start looking for what’s right in your life, instead of looking at the negative circumstances? It’s as simple and hard as that. As bad as your life seems right now, I am willing to bet there is at least one thing that’s going right or at the very least okay that you can be thankful for. If it’s only that you have somewhere to call home or you have a job you don’t hate or you have someone in your life that you can trust and love and feel at peace with – be grateful. And think about that one thing for more than a second each day. Once you do that I will almost guarantee you will start noticing other things you can be grateful for. On the flip side of that maybe do something for someone else that will help them see their lives aren’t so crappy – give them something to be thankful for.

There was a time in my life when I was sure my heart would never stop hurting – I had been rejected by the two people who were supposed to love me no matter what, my brand new husband cheated on me, left me, and then wanted me to take him back all within about 3 months. I could go on, but let’s just say my life was a Jerry Springer episode for a while. And I really thought my life would always be that way.

But then I decided I didn’t want it to be that way. I decided my life didn’t have to turn out like my mother said it would when she kicked me out. I decided I wanted to be the type of person people wanted to talk to and be around. I decided, even in the face of all the negative circumstances, that I could have a better life.

I decided to be optimistic.

Please don’t think that everything turned around all at once or I was suddenly like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. My life is definitely not a movie! I still had a lot to work through and still do and there are days when it takes a conscious effort to remain optimistic. But they’re fewer and there’s many days in between when I don’t have to work at it all. And as hard as it was to get here and keep getting better, I would rather do that work than stay the way I was. I’ve seen what happens when a person feeds pessimism, and it’s not pretty.

So today I’m making the conscious decision to look at all I do have and how far I’ve come and be grateful…

Who’s with me?

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