A few weeks ago, we were talking about self-esteem in one of my taekwondo classes. A little girl, about 7, raised her hand and said, “You can have a positive attitude in school, or you can be serious.”
I responded, “I take my positive attitude very seriously.”
I think my student has unconsciously learned something that most of us believe – we can either have fun or we can get stuff done.
But why is that?
Why can’t we have fun while we get stuff done?
I went on to say to my student that I think being silly and being positive are very different things.
I’m going to be really hokey here – but I take my positive attitude very seriously. I make a choice every day to be grateful, to remind myself of the things I love, and practice joy.
I know there a plenty of reasons to feel despair about the world. Just yesterday, I read about child marriage, sea turtles eating microplastics and how women in refugee camps don’t have adequate access to menstrual products and facilities to manage their periods. So yeah – there are a lot of terrible things in the world, and not only are they terrible, but they’re complicated and hard to fix.
But the fact is, I’m not doing anything to help any of these problems if I sit around feeling terrible about it all day.
So, I take time to remind myself of the things I’m grateful for: I’m grateful for air conditioning; I’m grateful for my daughters; I’m grateful for my health; I’m grateful for sunshine; I’m grateful for my dog; I’m grateful for the problems and challenges I’ve had to figure out in my life because they’ve expanded my capacity; I’m grateful for the families that trust my husband and me to teach their children Martial Arts; I’m grateful for telephones; I’m grateful for the internet; I’m grateful for reliable transportation; I’m so grateful for my husband – I’m grateful that he’s neat and tidy; I’m grateful that he’s a wonderful father; I’m grateful that he accepts me as I am and helps me be more; I’m grateful for indoor plumbing and clean running water…
Once I get started, I find myself appreciating my life, the world I live in and I feel more empowered to do something about the problems that are in front of me. Maybe I can’t save all the sea turtles, but I can stop using plastic straws, I can use reusable grocery bags, I can stop buying plastic silverware. I can donate a box of pads to a local shelter. It’s not a lot. It doesn’t solve everything, but it’s one thing. And once you’ve started one thing, there’s a chance you’ll do another thing.
The magical thing for me about gratitude, love, and joy is that they instantly replace the feeling of despair and helplessness with something better. Knowing that good things have happened and are happening helps me have faith that these good things will continue to happen.
It’s a little thing, but it helps.
If you need more convincing, I give you my favorite exercise philosopher, Elle Woods:
Do you have any tips for developing a positive attitude? I do take this very seriously, and I’m always looking for more ideas and strategies to keep my spirits lifted! Leave a comment below!