When I made the conscious decision a few years back to become a more positive person I knew that it would require changes on my part. It meant that I would need to learn to shift my way of thinking. I could no longer jump headlong into the worst case doom and gloom scenario. I could not allow myself to immediately begin to list all of the negatives attached to any given situation. Instead, I would need to learn to look for the upside. I would start enumerating the positives and look for solutions. I would begin each day with happy thoughts and intentions. I would be, well, positive. I would be optimistic. I would be…nice.
Granted, it took work in the beginning. As in correcting my behavior and responses several times per day work. Time went by, change set in, and it got easier. At some point it became second nature and required less effort. Today it feels natural. Nowadays I recognize when my thoughts are turning in the wrong direction, and I make a quick course correction.
Choosing an optimistic outlook does not mean that I walk around with sunshine and roses shooting out of my backside. (You are welcome for that visual.) It does mean that I actively seek out the sunshine and roses instead of the black clouds and dead weeds. Being a realistic optimist means that I am aware that there will be times when no amount of searching will bring forth the sunshine or the roses, but that they will surface again at another time.
Being an optimist does not make you a saint. Here is what did not happen when I embarked upon this journey to live in a more positive and optimistic manner. I did not become perfect. Shocking, I know. I did not get magically transported to a new world where bad things never happen. Wishful thinking. I still overuse profanity (it takes a ton of restraint not to use it often in my writing). I still think mean and spiteful things sometimes. I still have down days. I still have negative thoughts. We all do. All of us. What changes is what you do with them when they hit. You choose to control those thoughts, to shift them rather than to share them.
Being an optimist does not make you a fake. A big step in my process was accepting this. In the past I would look with disdain upon those perpetually perky types. The “Rah Rahs” as I called them (think cheerleaders on a caffeine and sugar high…all of the time). No one is that happy, I thought with scorn, and what I now realize was a good dose of envy. As humans we experience a wide range of emotions, and it is not possible to be happy all of the time. It is, however, possible to present an upbeat face to the world, and in doing so to make yourself happier in the process. I am still not perky, and I likely never will be. I do put forth happiness and encouragement, though, and there are times I can tell people are questioning its legitimacy. This most often occurs with people who knew me before the transformation, and they may not believe the changes are possible. I get that, and I am at peace with it. I will continue going where I am going, and I can only hope that they choose to join me on the journey.
Being an optimist does not make you a doormat. It does not make you a victim. It does not make you a fool. Yes, I am a far nicer person that I used to be. I am open to giving people the benefit of the doubt. When once I would never budge, I now give second chances if they are warranted. Make no mistake, though, that I have limits. I am not naive. I know when someone is trying to scam me or otherwise manipulate me. I will not tolerate any wrongdoing done to those I love. Hurt a family member or a friend, and you will see me unleash like a demented monkey freed from a cage. I will optimistically and positively come at you. The saying “do not mistake my kindness for weakness” is not without merit. I do not say this in an effort to sound tough, or like a badass. I say it to drive home the point that positive people are not at the mercy of those who would do them harm.
Being an optimist does make you a happier and healthier person. It does open your world to more friendships, to more opportunities, and to more adventures. It allows you to welcome that which you previously shunned. I invite everyone into my world. I only ask that you wipe your feet before entering. Cheers! Karen
All photo credits: http://www.pixabay.com