One of the biggest questions I am asked is, “how do you stay positive?” Admittedly, some days are easier than others. My easy answer is this, I have learned to devote myself to principles I have observed working for others. Some of these include my faith, my family, and my friends. I live intentionally in these areas.
Let me share some of the things I have read, learned and applied over the years. I did not get here overnight. As a young man, I suffered from anxiety and depression. I lost a lot of sleep over worry. One of the very first changes I encountered was the need to take care of me. It is my sincere hope that these things will be more than a lost, but you will, in fact, find them helpful as you apply them to your life.
I realized that I had become a pessimist at some point. Perhaps, it was the book, The Greatest Salesman, I read at 18, that showed me that. (Statistically, I found that pessimistic shortened their lifespans.) I determined to be optimistic.
A piece of that was developing what some would call, an “attitude of gratitude”. I began to write down all that I was grateful for, even when it was hard to find. My determination to be positive and grateful, caused other things to become better.
Last week I wrote about “connections“.
Connections were a big piece of the puzzle in my life. I realized that they were not just going to happen. That I was going to have to be proactive in my approach to connections. This is a hard area for many. Let me describe my thinking.
Once I realized I was responsible for my connections, I began to take baby steps. I asked some folks to help with little things. Maybe it was picking up one of my children. I found some folks who could give me emotional support during tough times. (The words, “I am sorry you are going through that” speak volumes.) Gain perspective from others who have “been there”. (I was not the first father going through certain things!) I appreciated the couple who recommended a date night and stepped in to help. Their advice was monumental. Being around others with similar likes gave me validation. (I am not always looking for a “yes” person, but sometimes it is nice!)
I grew up in a generation of independence. “Do it yourself” was a motto of sorts. Ask for help? Probably not! Leading me to become a young man who thought he had to figure it all out. Boy, was that rough!
I found myself looking for support that was not there. Who did I turn to? Where did I go? How was I going to get through this?
There is a lot to be said for independence. But, if one is to remain positive, developing an “emotional support” team of sorts, is vital I found. Begin to expand your circle. Sometimes a younger person may be just what you need. For me as a young person, I reached up to older folks. Peers can be awesome. My point here is there is most likely not “one size fits all”.
I needed people who would bring comfort to my life on various levels. People, I would feel comfortable with. What about the bad times? Would I feel comfortable telling them “anything”? Some of my people were problem solvers. Yes, they could table the options, but sometimes you need their expertise. (I wrote about this in my book, The Interrupted Process.) I needed to feel valued. Taken seriously.
Some of my friends at the time, could not help me with those things. I had to go develop new connections. Is it easy? Not always. Some of my new friends came out of groups that I joined, a fellowship I attended.
Emotional support is important to the process of remaining positive. Take one of the above suggestions and begin the process of healing and wholeness.
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