Sunday, September 20, 2009

The power of a positive attitude

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Photo by SpinDiva "Sunset on the Sound, OBX 2009"



You ever find yourself surrounded by negative people?

At work.

At the grocery store.

At the gym.

Sometimes, even at home.

Yes.  We all face them and sometimes we just follow suit and fall into that negative rut that plagues so many.  

I'm a big believer in living as an optimist (with realism not to far behind).  I have asked the pessimists in my life why they always thing the worst of things or the worst  case scenario?  They respond with "this way I'm prepared for the worst and if something good happens then I'll be surprised." 

WOW.  That response has stuck with me because it is amazing that anyone can think like that.  I see their point though.  They are trying to avoid feeling disappointed.  But, what's wrong with a little disappointment?   Aren't those the hurdles we must strive to jump every once in a while?  

As an optimist I say everything will workout as it should or today is going to be a great day, regardless of how it started and it usually turns out that way.  I find myself smiling more, getting less stressed over traffic issues, silly people, etc.  However, when things don't workout, even after I've worked myself up to thinking they will, I use those moments as challenges to make things better.

There's a theory about stress first identified by Dr. Susan Kobasa (1979) called the Hardiness Theory of Stress. The theory has three basic principles: Commitment, Control and Challenge, also known as the three C's.  Possessing the three C's makes one hardy.

One who is hardy  will be committed to what they are doing, act as if they can control the outcome regardless of the changes, and use the change as a challenge to improve their life. Those people are considered hardy and have been known to #1 manage stress better then most, #2 avoid the health effects of stress, #3 live a happier life.

"When I go to bed at night I already know how my day is going to be the next day.  However, I have been known to oversleep, forget to turn on the alarm, the kids sleep right through their alarm, and I forgot to pack lunches the night before, etc.  OK so things have taken a turn and my plan to have a great day has been challenged.  Am I hardy enough to deal with this mess?

I'd like to think I am, most of the time.  I commit myself to what I know I can and must do NOW (get everyone up and ready to go).  I control the outcome of this event (everyone will get to school, eventually- it's not the end of the world). I use the challenges and be better prepared next time (pack lunches the night before, go to bed at a reasonable time).

No screaming, no anger, no fights.  Just taking the time to do what needs to be done because no matter what I do, I can't turn back time.  I can only work towards making this day a great day, regardless of the setbacks.

A few quotes to get you thinking:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

~ Winston Churchill

“To love what you do and feel that it matters how could anything be more fun?”
~ Katherine Graham

“When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world.”

~ Zig Ziglar

My favorite is one I used to sing to the kids on the way to school -

So let the sunshine in
Face it with a grin
Smilers never loose
and frowners never win
So let the sunshine in
Face it with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sunshine in!


(cross posted at Family In shape)