Life can make you sick, literally and figuratively. Staying positive, seeing the glass as half full, finding the silver lining in the cloud are all good mindset goals, but, for individuals who are suffering with chronic mental, physical or temporal conditions, it is easier said than done. Achieving those goals may seem unrealistic or impossible! So, what can help us when we’re afflicted with an illness or condition that affects us day in and day out? Can we find a holy grail of coping to lighten our burden? Is there a light at the end of our tunnel? Or are we relegated to enduring a long, dark, uphill path in life?
Accepting what is–whenever we cannot change or eliminate the unfavorable, unbidden part of our reality–is the first step in conquering the negative side of life. This is true for almost every human condition. Acceptance acknowledges that we have work to do. And I’m not saying that we should accept our lot in life, give up and give in, having no faith or hope for a better tomorrow or a more satisfying and comforting life. That would counter everything I believe and know is possible through seeking help from professionals, family and friends, and especially seeking the counsel and comfort of a loving Heavenly Father. It also requires understanding that Jesus Christ has suffered everything, every single thing that could afflict us, and that we can be the recipients of the grace that His suffering affords us–healing us or giving us the strength and perspective to overcome or endure whatever trials we experience.
As with all situations we face–good or bad–we have choices to make. To be successful in being positive in a negative situation, we must choose what will provide us with the best outcome, bring us the most joy and happiness, what will most effectively counter the consequences of our circumstances. I will forever be grateful to a good friend, who gave me a “Gratefulness Journal” when I was struggling with a very negative, difficult, life-changing situation over 20 years ago. I felt like I didn’t have much to write about, and that it was just one more thing to remind me of all my woes, but I made the choice to keep that journal daily, writing five things each day for which I was grateful–a beautiful flower, a child’s laugh, finally going to bed after a long day, talking to a friend, etc. Keeping that journal taught me the valuable lesson of finding something good and positive in my life each and every day. It changed my perspective, my focus, and strengthened my resolve to find happiness wherever I could. I have continued to keep a journal of gratitude for all these years. I chose to be happy!
It has been my experience in observing human nature, that the people who are the happiest, find the most joy in life, who see that proverbial glass as half full do so because they have chosen to make the best of every situation, every circumstance, and every event in their lives. They aren’t happier because life is a bed of roses without any thorns, they are happier because they have cultivated and nurtured their roses, and have respected the fact that prickly barbs are a reality, focusing their attention and energy on admiring and enjoying the beauty of the flowers rather than obsessing over the possibility or result of the thorn’s spikey touch.
Just as we cultivate roses, we can cultivate the positive in our lives. Positive begets positivity and negative fosters negativity. Although that statement may seem a little too simple, too easy a “fix” for facing difficulties, especially ones that cannot be “cured”, it is the formula for a successful life. We cannot create a happy, positive life based on negative acts, thoughts and mindsets. There is ample scientific proof that this is true. That science also points out that the happiest, most content people have reached that state through the choices they make every day–the people with whom they associate, the perspective they employ–a trial is an opportunity not a punishment, how they spend their free time–helping and serving others, learning and growing in ways that are satisfying and life-affirming, treating their mind like a beautiful garden by pulling the weeds that pop up, nurturing and pruning the flowers (good thoughts and experiences) that are planted there. If you reach in to your soul and reach out to a Heavenly Father, who stands ready to bless you, not only will your life’s glass be half full, but it will hold a rose to remind you that there is beauty all around.