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Today is National Positive Thinking Day. 2020 has been a doozy of a year, and it just keeps on giving and not in the most positive ways, so we could all stand to benefit from a bit of optimism. According to an article on optimism in Psychology Today, “Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not.” Optimism significantly improves experiences, especially unfamiliar ones.

I consider myself an optimistic person which is not to say that I have never experienced the doldrums. However, I actively seek out opportunities or implement routines centered around positivity. Thinking positively helps me persevere during the rough patches that spring up from time to time.

Here are a few ways I cultivate positive thinking in my life.

Develop a Gratitude Attitude

Gratitude JournalPracticing gratitude or exhibiting a gratitude attitude is a terrific place to start with implementing more positivity in your life. It is quite difficult to be pessimistic and grateful at the same time. Keeping a gratitude journal and listing 3-5 items daily is a wonderful way to reframe a “bad day” since focusing on the good as opposed to the bad makes for a happier outlook. The majority of items that I list in my gratitude journal do not always reflect major experiences from the day. Many days I am grateful for the ordinary, the mundane, or things we take for granted. Hot showers, ketchup, the sound of birds on a morning walk, and a smile from a stranger while he/she holds the door open for you at the post office are all reasons to celebrate a feeling of gratitude.

During the summer, I started listening to The Gratitude Diaries podcast hosted by Janice Kaplan. Kaplan spent a year exploring gratitude and eventually wrote a book about her experience. Her podcast episodes are short (5-7 minutes) and air every weekday with a range of topics and useful tips that will help you start your day with a gratitude attitude. Being grateful equals feeling happier and more positive.

Daddy Nail GunExpress your gratitude towards others. It could be as simple as a verbal thank you, a note of gratitude, a small token of appreciation, or springing for lunch or dinner. Expressing thankfulness through words or actions is a positive gamechanger for both you and the recipient of the gratitude. My Daddy came over yesterday and helped my hubby install crown moulding in the entryway of my house. I always appreciate my Daddy (and my hubby) and his talents, and I make sure he feels that appreciation. Since the crown moulding has been installed, the bookcase that my hubby built for me will be put in the entryway, providing me with more shelf space for my large book collection.

Monitor Your Thoughts

Reframing your thoughts about a situation can lead to a more positive outlook. Sometimes life gets hectic whether at work or at home, and the demands during that period get overwhelming. Burnout, negativity, and a feeling of helplessness can creep in easily. If I am not careful, I am susceptible to falling prey to the negativity demon; however, I now view these times as a “season of sacrifice.” This point in time is temporary, and there is eventually a light at the end of the tunnel. Generally, I mark the ending date of my all-consuming task on my calendar to give me some clarity. If the season of sacrifice is at work, I may give myself permission to lower the bar at home. Taking pressure off of myself in another area of my life keeps me on track to complete whatever needs my immediate attention at the time. I may have to say no to some things to allow time to recharge my mental batteries.

Right now, we are experiencing a global season of sacrifice. My hubby and I have not been to a movie theatre since 26 January when we went to see Doolittle. Today, we are going to see Tenet, and I’m over the moon. Yes, we have to wear a mask, but I don’t care. It is a small sacrifice to make in order to experience an activity that I enjoy immensely. Having a type of entertainment to look forward to is a huge happiness boost and keeps dullness at bay.

Don’t catastrophize! Instead, embrace the unknown. Try to focus on the unexpected blessings that show up along the way. While the pandemic had us sheltering in place for longer than we could ever imagine, it also gave us an opportunity to evaluate the aspects of our life that are really important and valuable, such as relationships, while allowing us to slow down to notice the wonders of nature or rekindle an appreciation for being at home.  I started walking again and haven’t missed a day, yet. I love walking outside. Sometimes, I listen to a podcast or music, and other times I listen to the natural sounds surrounding me. I always feel happier and hopeful after a walk.

Imagine the Possibilities

Engage in activities that will allow you to think more positively. Here are a few examples of activities that make me happier.

  • Develop a spiritual or religious practice.
  • Develop a self-care routine that makes you feel physically and mentally strong.
  • Read books, watch programs/films, or listen to podcasts about happiness and positivity.
  • Do a nice gesture for someone.
  • Cultivate relationships with optimistic people.
  • Explore nature.
  • Create something!

Life is short, dear reader. Yet, we can choose how we live that life. Even though today has been declared National Positive Thinking Day, we can live positively every day. So, how do you choose to think? I would love for you to share your thoughts and any tips you have for thinking positively. Happiness!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston Churchill

Kat in Kentucky

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Greetings, dear reader! We have made it through the second week of social distancing and staying home in an attempt to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the Coronavirus. And, while all seems to be going relatively well for my family and friends in our little bubble of the world, there are other parts of our world, country, state, and local community where our neighbors are not faring so well. It’s unfathomable at times that we are experiencing this horrible situation which, if I’m not careful, leaves me feeling raw emotions and vulnerable. I’ve gotten to where I only check the stats on the Louisiana Department of Health. I don’t listen to the news and read very few articles related to the virus. It’s not that I don’t care, because I care a great deal; I cannot mentally handle the negativity. Instead, I choose to pray, work, and maintain a routine of normalcy. I’m trying to rely on my faith instead of focusing on the invisible, silent monster that is lurking in our world ready to claim any one of us as its next victim. I feel as if we are living in an episode of the Twilight Zone where at any minute little Timmy will banish us into the cornfield.

 

What have I been doing to cope with living in the Twilight Zone?

Purple Flowers

Flowers spotted on one of my daily walks.

Walking with Levar Burton: I think I have begun a streak. I have walked at least one mile every day this past week. I pair my walk with listening to the podcast Levar Burton Reads. Most of the stories that Burton reads are fantasy, speculative fiction, or science fiction. This week I listened to episodes #33-#36 and three live performances (interviews with the author are included after the story). Good stuff! I enjoyed all seven stories; however, “Singing on a Star” and “Asymmetry” were my favorites.

  • #33 “The Cell Phones” by Karen E. Bender
  • #34 “Singing on a Star” by Ellen Klages
  • #35 “Yiwu” by Lavie Tidhar
  • #36 “Morning Child” by Gardner Dozois
  • LIVE! in Brooklyn: “Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball” by N.K. Jemisin
  • LIVE! in Austin: “Asymmetry” by Kendra Fortmeyer
  • LIVE! in Atlanta: “The Vishakanya’s Choice” by Roshani Chokski

Instagram Live: Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Kraft have been hosting a live chat each afternoon (Monday-Friday) called “Coping with COVID-19 Conversation.” Enjoyable distraction.

Listening to Podcasts: I listen to podcasts every day. They are part of my daily routine, and I pair them with completing certain tasks. Some of my podcasts have daily episodes while others have weekly episodes.

  • Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam (time management)
  • Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau (side hustle stories and advice)
  • Happier With Gretchen Rubin (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Happier in Hollywood (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Office Ladies (companion to the hit television series The Office)
  • The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos (science of happiness)
  • Fueled: Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball (wellness and nutrition)
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations (spirituality and inspiration)
  • Talking Like Normal People (acting)
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz (stories about the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds)

Connecting with Family and Friends: Every day, I am reaching out to family members or friends through phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media. It has been comforting to me to stay in contact with my peeps. Admittedly, I have been spending more than my usual amount of time on Facebook. I’m having fun cutting up with my friends and taking silly surveys, posting pictures of beaches and my fur babies, watching scrapbook layout videos and videos of animals at various zoos, and wishing friends and family happy birthday blessings.

Reading/Scrapbooking: I LOVE to read, as well as scrapbook. However, it has been kind of hard for me to focus for very long on either activity. Strange, I know. I did start reading a book of short stories by Joe Hill. The book is titled Full Throttle. I have read the introduction to the collection and a story called “Throttle” which he wrote with his famous dad Stephen King. As for scrapbooking, not too much going on there. I have trimmed some photos, ordered some specialty paper, and talked about it with my BFF Shelly.

Turtle

This little guy greeted me Saturday morning when I let the dogs out.

As you can see, dear reader, I am trying to participate in activities that are positive and uplifting. I leave the house only when necessary because it does cause me anxiety to go out. I feel like I need to take a decontamination shower before entering my home. This upcoming week I want to continue walking, meditate using Hope in Uncertain Times, and work on completing some of the items on my 20 for 2020 list. Even though we are facing uncertainty right now, we do still have much to be grateful for in our lives. How are you coping through this trying time, dear reader? Please connect with me if you want to share your tips for coping with COVID-19 or if you just want to chat. Happiness!

“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm, and genuine people.”     ~ Tena Desae

 

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Well, I must say there will be NO blogging outside today. IMG_0368It is FREEZING this morning! Instead, I am sitting comfortably with Tooty (aka Comet, my dog) near the fireplace enjoying a warm fire courtesy of my hubby. Merci, beaucoup!

Gratitude! This simple, yet powerful word, is one of the keys that will help me find “inner peace and harmony” this year. Since the beginning of the year, two simple practices each day have already helped me make an attitude adjustment: reading Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have every morning and writing in my gratitude journal every evening. They are the bookends of my day. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations, we can always find something to be grateful for in our lives. Sometimes, it is the trial or tribulation.

Nepo’s book is allowing me to examine my thoughts and feelings more closely. It sets the tone of my day. Sometimes, the passage seems like it was written specifically for me while other days it is simply a dose of inspiration. I am no longer dragging myself out of bed thinking about how tired I am and calculating how many hours until I sleep again. Each new day is full of possibilities, opportunities, and…yes challenges. I am blessed to have that new day and can share it with some amazing people. I might also have to share it with some annoying people, as well; however, the beauty of interacting with the annoying people is that it makes you appreciate the amazing people in your life that much more. There is always a silver lining, folks!

My gratitude journal is allowing me to complain less about the annoying people (kidding) and focus less on the negative interpretation of the day. It is all about perception and attitude. I, you, we…all have a choice about how we approach a situation. This does not mean we can never be unhappy, angry, or disappointed. We have to acknowledge those feelings, but not dwell on them to the point that our lives become a miserable cycle of negativity. My gratitude journal for any given day may include being grateful for a hot shower or that aggravating student in 6th period. I know that not everyone on this planet can enjoy a hot shower. I do not want to take that gift for granted. And, that aggravating student makes me appreciate my own children more.

Clearly, there will be days that we classify in the “stink” category. Embrace them for what they are, build a bridge, get over it, and wait for the blessing. Negativity will block the blessing from appearing; however, gratitude will allow it to appear. Enjoy this freezing cold day, dear readers, and be grateful that at least the sun is shining! Happiness!

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

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