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I want to clarify something about being positive-minded, for those of you who read articles, blog posts and books about positivity and happiness, and are perplexed or angered by them. I can’t speak for other authors, but I do read a lot on those subjects. So, actually, I will speak for other authors as well as myself here. We are not suggesting that you must be positive or happy all the time, OR EVER if you don’t want to. Those who want to feel hopeless, unhappy, pessimistic and negative are fully welcome to do so, without judgment. We are not trying to tell you how you should live your life. We’re not saying you need to be “like us” all happy and cheerleadery. Speaking only for myself, I am not happy all the time. No human is happy all the time. I feel the same range of emotions that exist for all people. Anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, anxiety, depression, and yes, joy.
I do not need you to be like me. But if you want to be happier, more positive, and learn adaptive ways to live a life you love, I will give you the tools. I will teach you what I have learned through college studies, reading hundreds of books, and through my own experiences overcoming an abusive childhood and battles with depression and chronic anxiety. I am happy. I am positive minded. Because that’s what I choose for myself. “When you learn teach,” says Maya Angelou. So, I do. I want everyone who wants to do the work to have the tools.
I will also tell you that I am not unrealistic. Happiness and positivity are not utopian, altered realities. I’m fully aware of the plight of the world. I am aware that, in the U.S., our democratic republic is very much in jeopardy in a way our founding fathers could never have imagined. If you have ever read the Constitution you’d know those old boys accounted for many things in that document that didn’t exist in their lifetime in a most prophetic way. Our planet is in peril, also due in part to the same wealthy elite that is leading us into an oligarchy. And partly because we have become individualistic and reckless. The rise in drug addiction, suicide, anxiety and depression is no coincidence. As an empath, I could worry about all of these things, all the time.
Instead, I choose to acknowledge them, but also to see the beauty of the flowers blooming in my yard today and to listen to the varied sounds of the birds chirping. I enjoy the conversations I have each day with my kids, my husband, my family and friends. There is comfort in knowing that though we may be facing our demise, we face it together. There is joy in the fact that I have this day right here, even if I don’t get another one. I’m thankful I’m not being abused. I’ve been through hell so even though we’re in dire situation as a species, I’m staying in this day right here. And if I get another day, I’ll enjoy that one too.
It’s not an accident that I live my life this way. I’ve felt deep despair. I was a chronic worrier. Worry is a learned behavior. And as it can be learned, it can be unlearned. I simply did the work. I realized that it doesn’t make any sense to worry. You don’t need to solve problems you don’t currently have and if it’s a problem you have, find the solution. Worrying never fixes anything but does rob you of energy and joy.
We will either survive or we won’t. On the particular aspects of survival to which you feel drawn, focus on the solution and do your part. Other humans are doing the same. Will it be enough? Will good triumph over evil in this story? How bad do things have to get before the humanistic survival instinct unanimously engages? I don’t know. But I don’t fear that change. In whatever means necessary, I will adapt. Some of the change will be good because it unites us and makes us forget our criticisms and differences. We saw it after the attacks of 9/11 and after Hurricane Katrina, and now with the pandemic. Further back, we saw it during the Great Depression. We have always united in crisis.
You do not need to be anything other than what you are. Feel what you feel. No one is suggesting otherwise. No one is trying to change you or lead you into some fantasy world. There are books, drugs and bottles of wine that will do that nicely if that’s what you want. Life’s a dichotomy. There is good when you want to see it and evil when you want to see it. Both are always present. What I know for sure is that much of the way we think about the world is learned behavior, nurture with just a smidge of nature. And if your perspective makes you unhappy, you can change it. After all, it was learned to begin with as you were simultaneous learning to walk and talk and become an autonomous being. Reality like so many other things these days, is fluid. Individual. Perspective driven and not concrete at all. You can’t change nature, but you can change nurture, except now it’s up to you. And, that is why I give you the tools. When and if you want them.