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First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

Here we go again — I let this blog go in 2018. Why? Time, writer’s block, etc. Even positive people get dragged down without even realizing it sometimes. With this blog I promise to offer practical tidbits on getting/staying positive. It’s not easy striving to be the positive version of yourself but, in my experience, it’s well worth it!

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Inspiration

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What inspires you? What inspires me? Why doesn’t the same story/person that inspires you inspire me?

I guess it comes down to what we define as inspirational overall. Inspirational people don’t just talk about what is important to them. Inspirational people act upon what’s important to them. An inspirational person finds a way to overcome an obstacle or maybe even each and every obstacle. I think of a person who dedicates their life to their cause. A person who looks out for the better of everyone, regardless of it’s the better for themselves.

So back to what inspires you? When you feel stimulated to do something, it’s a state of mind, isn’t it? Your senses are heightened, you feel full of energy and enthusiasm and are completely dedicated at that point to do what you are doing or going to do.

In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary day-to-day experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility. It transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities. Inspiration is easy to be overlooked because it is elusive by nature. What we fail to realize is that inspiration can be activated and captured. It has a major effect on important life outcomes.

Inspired people are more open to new experiences. Inspired people have a stronger drive to master their work but are less competitive. That leads me to believe that inspired people are more intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically. While inspiration is not the same as effort, effort is an essential condition for inspiration. Preparing your mind for an inspirational experience and being open to experience and positive affect are important. You will be aware of the inspiration once it arrives.

What all this leads to is this: to become personally inspired, the best you can do is set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration. An easy first step is simply recognizing the sheer potency of inspiration and its potential impact on everything we do. Allow yourself to see inspiration and be inspired today!

Self-Talk

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Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Answering this age-old question about positive thinking may indicate your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and other things. It may even affect your health.

Recently I read that positive thinking starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These thoughts can be negative or positive. Some of your self-talk might come from reason. Other self-talk may come from a lack of information due to fearful ideas of what might happen.

You CAN learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. It does take time and practice – you’re creating a new habit!

Instead of “I’ve never done it before”, try “it’s an opportunity to learn something new”. Instead of “there’s no way it will work”, maybe “I can try to make it work”.

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don’t think you’re going to become positive overnight. With practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may even become less cynical about the world around you.

Start today – pay attention to that voice in your head.

Find the humor. Smiling and laughter can be a big help. When you need a shot of positive self-talk, find ways to laugh. Find funny pictures or videos online.

Surround yourself with positive people. This is a biggie. Walk away from negative conversations when at all possible. We’re all prone to absorb emotions from the people around us. This includes negative AND positive so choose positive when you can.

Positively affirm yourself. Sometimes even seeing positive words or inspiring images can be enough to change your thoughts patterns. Post reminders around where you can see them – when you see the reminder (maybe a special picture) let yourself smile!

Give yourself grace. Are you quick to voice support for someone else? How about talking to yourself that way? It’s okay to fail, to have a bad day, to make a bad choice. Being human DOES NOT equal being a failure. Let self-grace be your mantra!

Battling Sticking to “it” Problems

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Are you a person who starts things and then… If you look this up on the Internet, I think you might find a picture of me. I’m the mother of good intentions. What, you ask, gets in the way? Everything and anything, I must answer.

Research indicates that consistency improves our ability to stick with whatever it is we are endeavoring. I remember I attended a meeting a few years ago where the leader talked about seeding a new habit with an old. You might even think of these old habits as environmental cues. A cue can be a practice that becomes part of a routine – such as leaving your sneakers beside your bed at night or laying out workout clothes to put on when you awake.

In the same way that finishing a cup of coffee might cue you to brush your teeth, finishing lunch can be a cue to go for a brisk walk. With repetition and consistency, new habits can become automatic.

Recently I did a presentation for work on micro habits or micro goals. Micro goals help you see success and perhaps inspire you to press on. For example, walking for 10 minutes three times a day rather than 30 minutes at a stretch is a win most people can achieve. What’s more, research shows that small bouts of movement can improve longevity just as much as prolonged workouts.

What is your “it” that you’ve left behind? Revisit that it today and see if it’s worth going for with a renewed perspective!

Turning Life’s Lemons into Lemonade

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In life, bad things will happen. I’m not saying this to be pessimistic. It’s simply a reality that we all must deal with. Negative events can make us feel down or even depressed, but today I’d like to encourage you to take on a different perspective.

The phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” reminds us that we have the power to take negative experiences and turn them into something positive. You don’t have to pucker up and swallow that lemon. Just add a little sugar and water and you can drink a delicious glass of lemonade instead.

How can we do this? I suggest, as I discussed in my last writing, that part of it is mindset. When negative things happen, take notice of how you react. How are you seeing what is happening? What narrative is your self-voice telling you about what happened? You can alter your mindset to a more positive direction – but only if you can first recognize your natural reactions to something negative.

When you can begin to see negative experiences in a more positive light, you can also see them as learning experiences for the future. Don’t dwell on the negative but think about how you might be able to avoid this negative event in the future and become a stronger, wiser person.

And sure, something bad happened to you but if you look, you will see positives all around you. Glory in them! Find your passions, connect with others, and dive into what you love. Something that most of us are reluctant to do can really shift our focus to the positive – make a list of your strengths or start a gratitude journal.

As I’ve pointed out in other writings, if you approach negative events with predetermined strategies, you can develop a resilience for the future. Give yourself the gift of courage and sense of capability to turn adversity to advantage. Negative experiences are going to happen but they can be building blocks to an even better you!

The Choice of Optimism

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Optimism is an attitude and choice. None of us come into being as an optimist. It involves context and focus. It’s not a matter of deluding ourselves with the reassurance that everything is going to be okay (because that’s unrealistic and not helpful). Instead, we’re committed to finding things we can contribute to, work on and improve.

So how do you choose optimism? You learn to reflect on the positive aspects of life. You challenge negative self-talk. I remember a song from years ago that talked about changing the voices in your head to like you instead. The first step in any change is to want to change. When you look in the mirror and your self-talk tells you all the perceived negatives, change your mind. It’s not easy but over time, you will retrain your brain.

There is good evidence to suggest that being optimistic can improve both our physical and mental health – even having an impact on our life expectancy. Maybe this is because optimistic people are more resilient and better able to bounce back from unfortunate events? Maybe the are less susceptible to the negative effects of illness and depression, their immune systems healthier and they are often more motivated and energetic? Or perhaps it is just by their very nature they fully expect to live and long and healthy life?

Optimism doesn’t just make us feel happier, it also makes us more confident. It helps us believe in ourselves and our ability to find a solution. It’s hard but when we start to have gloomy thoughts about the future, we have to remind ourselves of all the times that we thought things were going to go horribly wrong and they didn’t. Or even the times that when something did go horrible wrong, we were able to see our way through the difficulty.

Recognizing successes in ourselves is not easy – even if we are a person who easily recognizes and congratulates others on successes. At the end of the day, count your blessings. Amongst those blessings, recognize what you have done well. This can be the simplest gesture to reinforce optimism in yourself and build your self confidence. Appreciating even the smallest of things can work wonderful for your mindset!

When something happens that makes you feels pessimistic or negative, force yourself to look at the situation differently. Change your perspective. The fastest way to become an optimist is to change your narrative. You are empowered from the inside and out and if you feed a positive mind, begin using positive statement, you WILL create change and improvements in your life.

Mindset matters. We can’t control our outer circumstances in our life but how we react is up to us. What will your mindset be today?

“Live in grace; walk in love.”

This simple quote from author Bob Goff about covers it for today, doesn’t it? If my words and actions today truly reflect grace and love – wow. What a good day today will have been.

  1. Walking in love today means I will live by the standard of love toward others and myself. On any given day I find myself being good at one of these and maybe not so much the other. How about you?
  2. Walking in love means being present today. Am I too hurried to be loving in the here and now to others? To myself?
  3. Walking in love means I need to stop criticizing other and myself. As in number one above – on any given day I find myself being okay at one of these…
  4.  Walking in love means today I will build up others and myself. If you see something that looks good to you, point it out to the person. Do you like the color of the shirt someone is wearing? Tell that person. Is someone’s desk impressively organized? Let her know. This includes giving yourself those positive accolades.
  5. Walking in love means talking the talk today. When we walk the walk and talk the gracelovetalk we are truly enhancing harmony around us.

 

 

As to living in grace, I think of unmerited favor. What does unmerited favor look like during the day?

  • Even in the midst of a long hard day, I will show grace by not getting angry or frustrated with others (or with myself, for that matter).
  • I will give more grace (forgiveness). Why? Because I’ve been given grace (forgiveness).
  • I will show grace by embracing the outcast. In conversations today, I will draw someone from the periphery into the conversation. When I’m walking down the street, I will greet someone who I don’t know or by the looks of the person may not want to know. I may be the only grace that person experiences today.
  • When I need to speak a truth that is difficult, I will season it with grace. I don’t know where I read this but I think of “let your sweet reasonableness be known to all people”. Today I will be sweetly reasonable.
  • Grace is patient. I don’t know about you but this is a difficult one for me, especially with my children. I don’t want to give/show grace by being patient when it looks to me like blatant inaction on his/her part. I want answers quickly. Grace is not only patient but is not controlling. I will be patient and not controlling today.

I will give grace today because it was given to me. I will love because I have been loved.

My Declaration of Independence

Growing up, I would always tell my kids to remember their worth, to value who they are. That they would always be enough.

I never took my own advice. I let negative thoughts and self-doubt creep in to influence everything I did. Those thoughts became a mantra that I followed. Those thoughts always creeping in to destroy whatever progress I had made. But I am no longer going to pay attention to them because I know they are a lie.

If I let them, they would hold me back. Instead, I am going to focus my attention on the positive. I am holding myself accountable for my success. I am no longer letting self-doubt strangle me until I can’t remember what even the smallest victory felt like.

I am strong. That doesn’t mean perfect. that doesn’t mean I won’t mess up. What it does mean is that there is strength in me I can draw on and use to help me overcome any obstacle and appreciate each success. I can accept the positive and negative in equal measure. I need both to achieve my goals.

I have value. I am whole and complete as I am. I will learn and grow as a person. I will accept the challenges in life and deal with them. I will embrace the successes. No longer will I cower and give in to fear and negativity.

I am enough. Have a great day and remember you are enough.

One Thankful Mama

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Last evening’s glow of thankfulness has persisted into today. My son who we thought might not ever be able to pursue any self-fulfilling endeavor was in our living room working on an Art assignment and talking about what should or shouldn’t be included in his short essay. My son who always has been intelligent and witty but who was restricted by something we couldn’t understand is free – free to travel his path. Free from the restrictions that held him down and free to explore, question and embrace this big world in which we live.

If you had asked me two years ago if I could envision such a scene as last evening, I would have had to despairingly replied “never”. Yet, there we were, four of us excitedly interjecting another thought into the assignment my son was completing. And my son, my beloved son, enlivened by our conversation but even more so invigorated by being a part of an academic community. Something I know he thought would never happen for him.

It took many hours to get here. Rivers of tears were shed and mountains that had seemed insurmountable were climbed. This mama never gave up and that made all the difference. Perseverance does not always result in a victory such as this but how thankful I am that in this instance it has!

2019 and Beyond…

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Do  you remember Buzz Lightyear? I think that Pixar character said, “To infinity and beyond!” I don’t know about all that – I’m thinking more in terms of the old quote (I think it’s from a song), “one day at a time, sweet Jesus”.

Sometimes I look too far down the road. Instead of thinking about what I can do today, I’m thinking about what can I achieve by the end of the year. Sometimes we have to do that for work purposes but I’m not sure that’s a great approach to the year generally. Why not narrow in on this week’s goal or even today’s goal?

I recently started a program through our health insurance for weight management. I worked out using my personal trainer given plan for the first time this past Saturday. My wonderfully perky and encouraging personal trainer assured me that this workout would take @ an hour. It ended up taking me an hour and twenty minutes because I had to figure out all over again how to set the machines and where I was going next (it’s circuit training). Usually that’s the way it is, in my experience. It’s really easy when there’s someone with you to guide you through the routine.

Instead of getting stressed out because I got home 20 minutes later, I am now considering that as time that I didn’t sit in front of the tv eating mindlessly. Come to think of it, any time that I even get to the gym and do anything, I’ve improved from that behavior. Woo hoo!

Here’s to 2019 and beyond – One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus!

Pause Before Judging Someone Else

Sometimes we can be really hard on other people. Sometimes we get into a habit of doing this and sometimes we do it without realizing it. Think about the fact that we may have no idea with is really going on with the other person. We may not and most likely do not have the full story. We judge and dismiss them or their actions too quickly.

Oftentimes what I write here is a reminder to my own bad self. I’m reminding myself today to take a pause the next time I start to criticize someone either silently or out loud. I’m going to try to remember that I don’t know how their day began, what conversations and sorrows they may have experienced, or what perspective they may be coming from. I want to be as gentle with them as I would hope others would be with me.