People have often told me I’m “always the same”. Essentially that means I’m mostly in a good mood. I try to be positive, but it’s not always easy. Shit happens.
One of my favourite Shakespearean sonnets is Sonnet 30. I love teaching it and telling my students what a woose Shakespeare was. Seriously? Can you be such a sad sack? He’s sitting there, summoning up all his past problems, and bewailing his outcast state, moaning about things he’s moaned about before (love the “fore-bemoaned moan”), crying over everything he’s lost…
We probably all have days like this. But you cannot allow past disappointments and hurts to steal today’s joy. Every day is an opportunity to start over. That deserves some gratitude, which is probably the first step in appreciating where you’re at and what you do have. At least, in the rhyming couplet, he remembers that he’s at least got a dear friend to be thankful for!
But being positive is a conscious choice. You’ve got to remind yourself to appreciate life. Below are the the things I rely on to keep feeling positive.
1. It is what it is
People quote me on this one! But really, there are so many times when we are faced with situations we have no control over. I believe in accepting the situation as it is and just getting on and dealing with it. Your ranting and raving, in a case like this, is not going to change the situation. All you will do is waste your emotional energy. If you do not like the situation, leave. You are not a tree.
The same goes for people. So many times we have expectations of people and they disappoint us. They show us who they are, and we refuse to believe them, hoping we can change them into the person we want them to be. You cannot change anyone else. They may not have the capacity to be the kind of person you want them to be, or give you what you want from them.
So your friend, mother, husband, boss or child is not everything you want them to be? That’s okay. Find other ways to fulfill that need. Everyone is doing the best they can.
2. Have faith
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11.
This is my favourite Bible verse. It assures me that no matter what I am going through, God has a plan for my life, and that whatever I’m experiencing is part of something bigger. When you look back on past problems you’ve experienced, I am sure you can see situations that you’ve overcome that have had a happy ending. Say to yourself: “This, too, shall pass”.
3. Divine timing
2012 was my annus horriblis. I divorced my husband, married him again, and then he left me. True story. No, that is not a joke. It really happened.
I had reached rock-bottom emotionally. I was at my wit’s end. I had no idea how I was supposed to move on. How could I trust anyone, or even trust myself after such a betrayal? How stupid was I? I was broken. I cried ugly tears on a therapist’s couch. How was I supposed to move on and take care of my children, feeling as worthless as I did after such a colossal humiliation?
Driving up Ou Kaapse Weg on my way to work one morning, I asked God what I was supposed to do. The answer came back quickly, clearly and loudly: Wait.
I did. I didn’t know what for, but the story has a happy ending.
I wasn’t the one who needed the time; my husband did. He still hadn’t resolved his issues and needed to do some work, which he did on his own and for himself. When he was ready, we found our way back to each other.
What I had been waiting for was a miracle.
4.There’s always an upside
According to John F. Kennedy, the Chinese character for “crisis” consists of two symbols, one meaning danger and the other, opportunity. How often haven’t you seen this in your life? Disaster strikes – you lose a job, perhaps; and an amazing, better job opportunity comes up? Sometimes we need to change our perspective of situations and look for the positives. I am an expert at re-framing situations and finding ways to make disappointments work to my advantage. I often say: “Well, it wasn’t really meant for me” or “Now’s not the time”. It may sound glib, but it does allow me to accept the situation and keep moving forward – onto the next, better thing. And when I look back at various events in my life, I know this to be true, and certainly not worth the time I would have spent moaning about the loss.
5. Let it go
My dear friend, Lynne, gave me a longer version of this TD Jakes quotation a long time ago and it has become my mantra. It’s not an easy thing to do, but until you do, you will have no peace. I apply this principle to people and situations that no longer serve me.
There is a season for everything. People and situations come and go in your life. When their time is up, say “thank you” and move on. Hanging onto the past will not serve you. If the experience was negative, say thanks for the lesson, forgive them (and yourself, perhaps) and move on. Trials come to teach us, but we can pass the test and continue. If we keep hanging on, we will never learn the lesson, and the patterns will keep repeating themselves.
All that being said, there are days when I get just a little bit gatvol of being positive. Sometimes life is just too much and we feel depleted, lacking in the physical, mental and emotional energy to cope. Then you need to be kind to yourself, as you would to a dear friend. Give yourself the day off. Stay in bed in your pj’s all day if you must. Relax and recharge. Then try again tomorrow.
Love and light