The Journey to Choosing the Positive Mindset (with guest star COVID-19 🤦🏻♀)
I’ve always considered myself a generally happy person, but for the past year, I’ve set a personal goal to have and keep a more positive mindset overall. It’s been quite the journey, and at times (especially right now), it’s felt nearly impossible, but I have to say, it’s really changed me for the better.
As a working mom of two boys, the demands are fast and furious. Toss in the fact that I’m a teacher, a curriculum and behavior coach, that I work part-time in retail, and that there’s a global pandemic, and I promise you, my positive mindset is challenged constantly. Like EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. But these are also all the reasons why I want to and need to make sure to stick with it.
For me, my true inspiration came from watching my good friend, Traci. She had made the decision to reframe her thoughts and she worked diligently each day to make it happen. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical that this would and could really work. We were both (like so many women and men) dealing with a lot and had been for a few years. At this age you’re hit with challenges from all angles; work, home, kids, parents, pets, money. It’s serious stuff and it’s often constant ups and downs.
I watched and listened as she made positivity to the WHOLE of who she was and what she did. She tried like hell to sprinkle it on me when she knew I needed it, but I just wasn’t there yet. She would talk about how she was going about changing her mindset and in true teacher form, she modeled it clearly for me. She would share positive thoughts and she would catch me when I was focusing on the negative and would try to help me to see what this was doing to my days and my overall mindset. She was right, it was only making things worse, but it seemed to feel better in that very moment. That’s the thing about negativity, it’s the 50-yard dash, where positivity is definitely a marathon.
Fast forward a few months, many conversations and exchanges later, and it’s impossible to ignore the impact it had on both of us. I’m forever indebted to her! Some steps were simple, others were far harder than I ever envisioned or imagined they would be and continue to be, but each of the steps was equally important.
Making the decision to be positive is only one step of the process. You then have to decide which kind of positive works best for YOU. For some, it’s the yoga mixed with calming breath kind (definitely NOT my jam, but I have an amazing friend Kristen who is willing to share her wisdom, so I’m going to give it a shot). For others, it’s the looking for and posting or sharing positive memes or quotes kind. Some choose to read impactful books that help you sever your ties to negativity and stress and inspire you to change your thoughts and reconstruct your purpose. Some go to listen to others speak or preach. Some meditate with their thoughts. Some find a song that just puts them into a great mood (for me it’s Dave Matthews or J Lo),...you get the idea. There are countless options out there, but don’t let that bog you down. The next step is to keep looking until you find what works for YOU.
What I’ve found is your positivity style should be just like you, unique and whatever makes a tangible and palpable difference for YOU. Personally, mine is still evolving and changing as needed and I know that it will always NEED to continue to do so. Life can change in the blink of an eye and you will need to adjust as you would have to with any other important commitment.
Right now my style consists of a go-to book, a close group of friends, and setting aside time each day to stop myself and really positively reflect on things. Right now, I have to admit, this shit feels harder than ever and there are days where I feel like it may be becoming impossible. But I’m trying like hell and I WILL continue to because there is such a marked difference in me on the days when I’m not trying as hard. Life right now is nothing like the life we had ever imagined. We are constantly stressed and experiencing feelings and emotions that most of us haven’t ever experienced before. This is quite unsettling. I find myself constantly asking myself things like; “Should I feel this way?”, “Is this too much of this emotion?” and a very personal one, “Ok. I need to be done feeling this way now.”.
Rewind to a few months ago and my style was daily thoughts and keeping a graph (remember I’m a teacher and a Behavior Coach so data is our thing) to track the differences in my positive and negative daily thoughts (the results certainly shocked me and showed that my focus was on the negative, BIG TIME!!!). I’m sure a few months from now, my style will certainly need to be something different, and that’s ok!
During the stay at home order of this pandemic, I and many of my close teacher friends had the amazing opportunity to participate in a book club moderated by the author. We read Severed Dreams Reconstructing Your Purpose, by Chad Porter, an author, and motivational speaker. It was during one of our discussions that he said something that has stuck with me and carried me through much of this ordeal and it’s new feelings and emotions. We were all engaged in a dialogue about feelings and he commented to one of us who was sharing, “Hey listen, if that’s the feeling that you have, then it’s valid and right and you shouldn’t ever worry about how others might perceive a situation or what their feelings about it might be. You feel how you feel and that’s ok.”. I was so struck by that! There is so much depth to that statement and so much power behind it. For days I had been feeling like, I shouldn’t feel anxious about things because others didn’t seem to feel that way, and all that was doing was making me feel worse. How had I let myself think that what I was feeling wasn’t valid because I may not have seen it represented in others around me?!
There are times in your life when the feelings are going to come and you are going to have to work hard to adjust to them and to get through them. And believe me, some of them are going to take their toll on you for a while, but they don’t have to take OVER you. It’s exactly then that you need to dig deeper and keep moving.
Like any muscle, the brain needs constant exercise to change it and to keep it fit. I work very hard to reframe my thoughts (read that again, because this is a true workout) when they start to run away from me. Trust me, I’m doing pretty well with being positive, but I still need the support and encouragement of certain people when I’m being tested. You’ll find who they are and it’s ok to ask them for help when you need it and to know that every single one of us needs it at some point. Eventually, you’ll find yourself being for them who they were for you.
I try to share positive thoughts with others as much as I can. I pass along good books (like Severed Dreams) or video clips because a lot of us need to get to this realization or place and we need to do it in private. I know I’ve said how Traci was my inspiration, but I had to personally come to the decision to DO this, and I had to do that privately.
I promise you, this is one workout you won’t regret getting started and keeping up with even on the days when the dryer breaks, or when it’s your birthday and the hot water heater goes (actual event from my 40th), and pretty much every day right about now. But don’t worry about making the effort towards being a more sunny person! The world certainly needs more of them, especially right now.