What you make it

My fiance and I are going through some growing pains right now. Here we are, newly graduated, newly unemployed, and both pretty stressed and scared. To help, my mom sent me a  prayer to St. Jude for employment, and I pray it every day. I asked Jake, do you ever pray it? He said he never got into the habit of praying. So then I asked, “Well, how do you view good fortune? If it isn’t a God-thing, is it luck, random good fortune, odds, knowing the right people, or hard work?” And I had to chuckle when he said, “Oh, I think it’s a combination of hard work and dumb luck.”  We have such divergent attitudes about luck (I view it as a life path, synchronicity, blessings, purpose and destiny), but we both have the same outlook: it will all be okay. As long as we have each other, and we’re healthy and happy, it will be okay.

When one faces a difficulty, an obstruction, or an impediment, it important to remember: the situation is going to be exactly what one makes it to be. This can be said about how we receive information, how we choose to react, how we present ourselves professionally or socially. When it comes down to it, our outcomes are often dictated by our outlook.

If times are hard (which they are for many people right now), remember to stay as positive as you can. Don’t succumb to negativity. It will do more harm than good. Positivity will carry you through. When you feel like you can’t do anything more, remember: you are stronger than that. You have persevered before and you can do it again. When it seems like a hopeless cause, spend some time with people who make you feel great for who you are and what you do. When you feel like no matter how hard you try you won’t get ahead, make a list of all the things you’ve done to try and then make a list of the things you can’t control. If you can’t control it, let it be. But if you can do something to make a difference, do it.

Everything is what you make it.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009

Successes

 I lost 65 pounds about 4 years ago. Around ten or twelve of those pounds have crept back on, but I have continued to make lifestyle  improvements: now, I exercise and pay attention to emotional eating habits. But for some reason, despite all these awesome accomplishments, I stress out about those extra ten pounds. I give myself a pretty tough time about it too. It seems once I grow accustomed to my new accomplishment, I take for granted all the hard work it took to get there. I forget. I ignore my successes and instead obsess about my newly perceived “faults.” For most people, this kind of mindset does little good to motivate us to greater accomplishments. It can often send us spiraling backwards.

It’s hard to keep up with all the ways to be a “good” person: be green, give to charity, go to church, keep a clean house, eat healthy, exercise, be a good employee, be a good boss, be a good friend, be a good spouse/partner. Jeez. How could we feel good about ourselves with everything telling us to improve (this blog is no exception to that, and I know it).

So, what if we changed our mind frame?  I suggest that we keep a successes journal. You might not be eating perfect, but you said no to ice cream today. You cleaned off the dining room table. You had a great conversation with your neighbor and gave consolation when s/he needed it. You may not have finished the laundry, but you were there to talk to your friend with whom you’ve been playing “phone tag” for two months.

These things are successes. They create a more meaningful life. Instead of judging ourselves against an idea of perfection, or someone else’s idea of what is best and worst, why not judge ourselves based on what we find meaningful? Don’t know what you find meaningful? Find out. That could be your success every day.

After about five days, look back on your list. How good does it make you feel to see all the great things you did? Imagine how those small things make a positive difference in the bigger picture. At the end of our lives, people won’t remember that we binged on ice cream last Sunday or if we kept a clean house. They’ll remember that we lived a happy, healthy life.  They will remember our character. They will remember the meaningful things, not those self-criticisms that take  up our time and thinking.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

pessimism doesn’t = realism

I have heard plenty of people say, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m  a realist.”  This sentiment suggests to me that pessimistic or negative people validate their attitudes under the guise of being realistic. The truth is, they are probably being realistic, but with a negative spin on the whole situation.

People sometimes suggest that positive, upbeat attitudes indicate an uninformed perspective that is avoiding reality. Quite the contrary. I have found that I can be realistic and positive simultaneously. It actually helps me move through the crisis/situation toward a better outcome. 

The question is ultimately:  what motivates you?   If being a bummer motivates you to action, then fine. If being positive drives you forward, that’s good too. In this regard, both attitudes seem necessary–the positive and the negative–depending on one’s own proclivities. Each is a personal perspective (and choice) that hopefully moves one toward productive action.

But let us all remember: being realistic does not rationalize the decision to be a pessimist. We choose how we perceive information (or, reality), whether negatively or positively, independently of how clearly we are seeing our situation. So don’t make excuses. If you’re negative, you’re negative. Own your attitude. Otherwise you’re not being realistic with yourself.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2009.

Mottos and mantras

So, as some of you know, I’m not really a “religious” person. I am a very faith-filled person though. My mother was a very spiritual woman and I was raised within a religious, relaxed extended family. So I think I got the best of both worlds.

Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because I think being kind and courteous extends to the way we live our lives. I don’t think anyone has to have a religion to be a good person. But there are many common beliefs taught in many faiths that are good principles to live by.  I believe that living these beliefs can make our world a happier place (despite the difficulties we experience) and can make it easier to spread niceness to others. Here are some attitudes/ideas I think are great.

  1. The classic: treat others as you would like to be treated.
  2. Try to practice what you preach. We’re human so we’ll always slip up, but the point is that we work hard to live what we believe.
  3. My grandma mailed me this quote. (If anyone knows who said it, please let me know, as I would like to give them proper credit.) “Attitude is the master key to life. With the right one, you can open any door.”
  4. Trust in your “higher power” (be it your self, God, Allah, Buddha, nothing, or something else) to lead you in the right direction. It is important that you are actively living every day in a good, positive, productive and receptive way. If you are doing these things, wherever you go is probably the right place to be.
  5. When I’m sad or distraught, my mom always says to me, “Live the questions.”  We don’t always know the answer. So we do the best we can even in the “not knowing.” Eventually, she says (correctly), we find that we have been living the answer and didn’t even know it. 
  6. Another I like, though I’m unsure to whom it is attributed: “Embrace that which defines you.”
  7. And this one is great—from a wonderful movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium: “Life is an occassion. Rise to it.”

Any suggestions for more?

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.