I think I’m generally quite a positive person and my outlook is usually sunny.
I’m not talking about being ‘happy’ in this context, as I think that is an entirely different concept and I happen to think it’s OK not be happy all the time… but I do try and remain positive in good times and bad.
Positive thinking for me is about being the best version of me that I can be. That doesn’t mean being hugely successful in my career, or achieving great wealth (though that would be nice), it means being at peace with myself and actually liking who I am… and I do, most of the time. This wasn’t always the case, but I think at 52, I have found a comfortable place where I am content with the woman in the mirror. And that’s misleading to, as I’m not talking about looks, but more about me as a whole, and who I am as a person.
“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” – Maya Angelou
Yes, of course it helps to have a wonderful partner and some security in your financial life, but it’s also about being kind, being confident in your interactions with others, and celebrating your achievements however big or small.
I take stock on my outlook on life every so often to see if I can improve anything, and I have realised that a sense of achievement is key for my wellbeing: I have days when there are no great pressures on me to do anything and I look forward to them, thinking ‘Great! A day off, I can do nothing!’ These tend to be my most miserable days. Whereas a day that I may be dreading, as it’s packed with things for me to do, ends with my going to bed with a huge sense of achievement for all that I have accomplished. It doesn’t have to be big things; clearing out my office the other day for instance, made me feel really positive.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of somebody else” – Judy Garland
I do look for ways to improve myself continually, and have been through a succession of hobbies (of which blogging is the latest), from knitting to horse riding … and at some stage I’m definitely going to do a MA in History. Its so easy now with the OU becoming so popular for people who haven’t the time/confidence/inclination to attend a traditional university. Why NOT educate yourself further, what have you got to lose?
I remember having a chat with a friends’ Gran when I was in my early 20’s, (she must have been about 70 at the the time.) We were talking about my degree, history and writing and she kept shaking her head sadly saying, “It’s too late for me to start any of that” which even at the time, (when 70 did seem ANCIENT), I thought a bit of a shame. I certainly hope I will be trying new things when I am 90, let alone 70.
Though I am a regular user of Facebook Instagram and Twitter, I think that there is much that breeds negativity on these forums. We post our best photos (filtered), stress about how they will be received, and then ruminate on everyone else’s successful, assured, perfect life. Of course what we are looking at is everyone’s ‘sunny’ side, the half they want us to see; And it’s therefore only half true.
It is so much worse for the young, who may not have the life experience to understand that what they are seeing are not only filtered photographs, but also a filtered life and it breaks my heart to hear about all the anxiety and angst that young people suffer as a direct result.
I have started trying to add Mindfulness to my day. Mindfulness is a great idea but it needs quite a bit of concentration, so you have to really put your mind to it , (so to speak.) The key is to try and shut out the daily chaos raging around you, slow down your ever whirring mind, and concentrate completely on something, anything really, and experience it. For example, drinking coffee or eating an apple. I love this idea as I go through life one step ahead of what I’m actually doing. For example, I am doing something but because my mind is on the next thing that I have to do, I don’t really experience what I’m doing NOW. (Sometimes that can have benefits, for example when I’m working out and actually my mind goes off to thinking about a work project and before I have realised it, I’m at the end of the session!)
I’m also thinking about starting meditation. I love the idea of a guided relaxation/ contemplation, if I can just shut my mind down from its constant racing ahead … I will let you know how I get on.
There is a another element of my positivity process, which may sound a bit harsh, but it’s been key in achieving a (mostly) positive state. And that is to have a clear out of people who have a negative influence on you. I imagine that I have a circle around me, and I only invite into that circle now, those who, for whatever reason, enhance my life. That may seem selfish, but I really did waste years associating with people who, for whatever reason, brought me down. I trained as a psychodynamic counseller from 2000-2006 and practised from 2006 – 2017, and I think this gave me the courage to apply the circle theory. It came as a bit of a shock to some “friends” I’m afraid, but I have never regretted it, not for one minute. I would rather have a small group of friends who make my life better, than a 100 who don’t.
“This above all: to thine own self be true” Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Finally, I like to reassess every so often whether or not I am LIVING. Yep, sounds weird I know, but bear with me: Am I taking time to have a walk on the beach in the rain, to have a go at something that scares me, to treat myself, to try out something I’ve never done before, to dig the wetsuit out and go bodyboarding? (The best fun – EVER) When I do those things I think ‘Yes! This is it!’
So, let’s declutter our offices and our lives, consider starting a new hobby, start a blog (even if no one reads it) and be content with who we are. We are here such an unbelievably short time, there is no space for wishing we had someone’s else’s life, whilst our own passes by. Be the best you can be today and … LIVE. ❤️