It is worth repeating - positivity starts with you!
One of the saddest things about our modern life is that it seems to have become a badge of honour to be constantly “stressed”. Ask anybody these days how they are, and the first thing they are likely to answer is “busy”! Then the litany starts - how many different activities the kids are doing, how the renovations are dragging on forever, how hard it is looking after the aging in-laws and how the boss is demanding more and more effort for the same pay.
Once they finish talking, the social contract allows you to (briefly) recount all the ways in which your life is draining you of all energy and joy, followed by anxious glances at your cell phones, before you zoom off into the vortex of busy-ness! Then at the end of the “hectic” day you return home to your partner and enter a thinly-disguised competition around who had the worst day and is thus the most exhausted and deserving of couch-time while the other hauls an unappetizing frozen dinner out of the freezer..
If you are retired, maybe you have the opposite problem. Not enough to do and no stimulation in your life? Do you find yourself constantly complaining, when asked how you are? Do you grumble that your kids never visit you or that you never see your grandkids, or when you do, that they are always on their electronic devices?
Stop! Positivity starts with you! If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed and mildly, or very miserable, generally, it is definitely time to re-examine your life. For those of you with over-scheduled children and both adults working, check on your priorities. Have a family meeting one Sunday morning and draw up a list on a large piece of cardboard showing what everyone does and when. Rank each activity based on how much the participant enjoys it. Does little Johnny love swimming practice but only puts up with hockey? Get rid of the hockey! Does Susie spend hours in her room practicing her violin without being told to, but kicks up a fuss every time dance lesson comes around? You know what to do!
Does the family have one morning a week ( like a Sunday) when everyone can hang around in their flannel pyjamas and thick socks and just “be”? Once you have pared down schedules to something a lot more sustainable, family members will start to feel happier automatically. For the elderly who are feeling their family is not paying them enough attention, why not try to take the focus off yourself and put yourself in your daughter or son’s shoes. Maybe make a lasagna and drop it off for them so they don’t have to cook after work that day, without expecting anything in return. Or offer to pick up the grandchildren and take them to a kid’s movie so the adults can enjoy some child-free time together.
Then start looking at your attitude generally. Do you rant and rave in traffic and curse any time spent at red lights?Why not put on your favourite music and go with the flow. Accept the little delays as a part of life, and go to your happy place. You can use the time to reflect on pleasant things such as a recent holiday, or plan your grocery list, instead of fuming and feeling that the universe is trying to ruin your day. When people ask how you are - why not just reply “great thank you!” You will be amazed how just this simple response can totally change your outlook when practiced consistently. Before bed every night, list 5 things that you are grateful for. This practice alone can change your attitude to life very quickly.
Chani Nicholas put it best:
Sometimes the only thing that changes in a situation is you.
And that is enough to change everything.