Whenever I stumble, it’s a chance to glimpse a better path. Maybe not for months or even years, but when I look back now, my mistakes have, by and large, not been a waste. That makes it easier to keep positive in turbulence.
In the end, I’m going to die regardless of what happens. Until then, I’ll do my best to live as a happy idiot, and let others make the transient determination as to whether I’m lucky or unlucky.
Sometimes, ceasing to care is the fastest way into positivity. Instead of forcing it, flagellating myself for negative thoughts, or stressing over every little development, an internal surrender into “it is what it is” or “I’ve been here before and it turned out all right” or even “we’re all going to die anyway” can ease my tension and restore my perspective.
And then I’ll be open and relaxed, cued into subtle opportunities and potential advantages. So it can translate into practicality as well.
I’ve been consistently reminded that I can be absolutely miserable when good things are going to happen–I’ve become angry and short-tempered while they were unfolding, simply because they weren’t occurring instantaneously.
Then I began thinking–even if my life was full of enjoyable certainties, I could make myself miserable as I waited for them to unfold, and demand that they happen faster and faster. Most of my life, in that scenario, would be spent in misery. So now I focus on relaxing and appreciating, whether good things are happening or they’re just unfolding. I want to enjoy the silence between the notes, rather than throw a fit due to the apparent lack of music.
There’s a parable about a drowning man who claims God will save him, and refuses any ships that offer to help. After he dies, he asks God why he was left to drown, to which God replies he sent a bunch of ships.
Personally, I think there’s a more insidious version of the parable. Instead of drowning, the man is stuck on a dreary island, complaining that God won’t help him. So instead of dying, the man falls in love with negativity and complaint, and dismisses any ships that might take away his reason to rail at the greater world. Subsequently, he lives his whole life on that island, isolated from adventure, potential, and joy.
I don’t think belief in God is a requirement to get off the island. Just take some ships, and even if they don’t take me where I want to go, I can a chart a course with what I learn along the way.
Whenever I obsess over the end result, I miss opportunities for better outcomes, things spin out of control, or–in the rare instance when everything goes according to plan–I either fail to appreciate the win, or my enjoyment of victory feels short and muted.
The reminder to enjoy the journey is not only practical–it keeps me open to unforeseen opportunities through a positivity-receptive mindset–but is also a moment-by-moment choice. I believe that how I choose to frame events and direct my focus will determine my experience in this short, nonsensical life.
Releasing negativity is a tricky endeavor. In the past, I’ve forced positivity in an effort to shake off the negative, but the ensuing resistance only strengthened the negative.
So I try and emphasize the acceptance part–it’s okay to feel whatever I feel. It’s a natural reaction. And that focus on acceptance, for me, is the best way to “fight” my negativity, even though it may seem like I’m condoning it. It’s the fastest way for me to release negativity and get back to being positive. Given a contentious topic, it may seem improper, but I’ve found that my psyche isn’t responding to the topic, per se, but to the mental state of combative denial or easy acceptance. And easy acceptance (for me, at least) brushes right up against low-key optimism, which turns a grueling leap into a natural shift.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve shifted from railing against being stuck to seeing it as an illusion, since circumstances can’t help but dissolve and change (into death and release, if nothing else). My frustration with being stuck, however, can feel uncomfortably real. That can be leavened through my ability to reframe the situation, by my ability to creatively rationalize why I’m not actually stuck, how there might be an opportunity lying in wait, or simply by my ability to be a happy idiot, trusting that things will eventually change for the better.
I’ve concluded that arguing with negativity-oriented people–those who use creativity and rationale to consistently redirect focus back onto negativity–is a waste of time. Nothing you say or do will be good enough; the best you can do is temporarily quiet them with tangible results. Even then, they’ll eventually find a way to rationalize your efforts as insufficient.
So I’d rather leave them be and concentrate on the next opportunity. They’ve already decided that nothing works as it should.
When I was hellbent on fighting and pushing against events, I would every so often stumble onto peace and contentment. Later, I realized that it was a result of giving up my internal fight–of accepting my emotions and letting them be. While I might have still been outwardly striving, I felt my perception was where I desired, and consequently, so was my place in existence at that moment.
So now, even if I’m trapped in a negative emotion, I tell myself I don’t need to fight it, that it’s okay to feel whatever I feel. And then it lets go and opens into something better. This way, instead of clinging to faith, I get to viscerally abide in trust.