Many people who know me think that I am a bubble of joy all the time – a lot like Joy in Inside Out actually – and that I never have a bad day because of my sunny disposition. What many don’t realise is that I am sometimes very sad, feel lonely, and life can sometimes be very hard and unfair. Funnily enough, when my boys were tiny, I bumped into an old teacher of mine who told me that a few teachers in the staffroom had once voted me “most likely to commit suicide”. Yes, I know! Shock, horror! While I have never had a suicidal thought in my life, I can remember that old me and I’m glad I’m not the same person any more.
I have just learnt the secret to Positivity. There have been times when I allowed my sadness rule me and those around me. But when I realised that it is a choice, everything changed for me. Being a positive or negative person is a choice! It’s a matter of Focus. What are you focusing on? Are you gathering evidence to prove how unfair, sad or bad life is? What are you thinking about when you feel negative? Look at your body – I bet your shoulders are slumped over. I bet you don’t feel like doing anything.
What if I asked you to list all the things that are actually going well in your life? What if I asked you to focus on parts of your life that bring you joy? Now push those shoulders back, take in a deep breath and smile with your whole face. How do you feel now?
Studies show that just changing your physiology can change how you are feeling. Incredible hey? Once you learn this amazing secret, life takes on a whole new meaning.
So what do I do when life happens? I tell myself three things…
1. It’s not personal.
Life is not out to get you! When unpleasant things happen, it isn’t a grand scheme to make your life miserable. Life just happens. We live in a broken world with some broken people, so it’s bound to get messy. Thinking that it’s a personal attack on you will cause you to become a victim and blame everyone else for what is happening. Have a look and see what part you are playing in the drama, take responsibility and make the necessary adjustments or put the necessary healthy boundaries in place.
2. It’s not about me.
You might say that’s the same as number 1 above, but it’s more than that. When you live a life that is outwardly focused, you can’t be down. The secret to breakthrough, my friends, is…contribution. Look around you and reach out to those in need and then give what you have available, whether it be time, talent or treasures. When you live a life of contribution, it makes you feel great and life suddenly has purpose. When it is all about you, it makes your world very small and painful. All of our pain is because of a selfish story. Harsh, you say? Well think about it: if our story is painful, it is normally because it is all about us.
3. There is always a silver lining.
We cannot control what life throws at us, but we can control how we respond to it. If you believe that there is no hope in your situation, then you are going to be very sad. But when you are focused on the good around you, and you start to contribute to others, you will see that even the darkest times in your life will be filled with lessons and beauty. It is in the darkest of times that the greatest miracles can occur if you only believe…
So put a smile on your dial, push those shoulders back, lift up your head and shift your focus from yourself. Then go and be a blessing. Let me know what happens, because something will…it always does!