Just like everyone I have had my ups and downs. The ever-common highs and lows of life. And I am sure there will be many more down the road. Everyone has them. But it is not the struggles or happy moments that are different from person to person, but how those people handle those struggles and hard times. Some succumb to wallowing. That no one understands what they are going through. Which I, myself, am guilty of on several occasions. Others may lash out because of the pain that they have to face. However, there are others who look at the positive side of every struggle.
I am not talking about the people who seem completely oblivious to what is happening around them or only see sunshine and rainbows. But the real people who may be going through some of the worst moments of their life and are still moving forward.
Because when you are facing something that makes you miserable, brings you pain or suffering, or even causes you more worry than you have ever thought possible, what is most important is to not let these things destroy who you are. Do not let yourself be warped into something unrecognizable but instead flourish and grow from these moments and let them become lessons instead of punishments.
Now I know this may seem like a bunch of peace, love, and tranquility nonsense to some of you but that is not what I am talking about in the slightest. I don’t believe in ignoring a problem that is right in front of you. Instead, I believe in facing it head on, dealing with it as best you can, and moving forward in any way possible. If you don’t, you will most likely be sucked into a world of negativity that will only bleed into every other aspect of your life, making the quality of your life less than ideal.
Probably one of the most commonly known, and promoted, pieces of being optimistic is that when you are going through any struggle, no matter how big or small, you need to look towards that light at the end of the tunnel.
What is going to come from this?
Where will this lead me?
How will I grow?
Sometimes it might seem hard, especially when you are becoming physically, emotionally, and mentally drained to think ahead and how this will ever be better. But trust me. Although it may not be right in your immediate future, things will eventually level out and begin to get better. Even if it is not in the exact way you would expect. For me, it has taken almost three years to get to a place where I am truly happy and not facing the same endless problems and difficulties that once controlled every aspect of my life.
Every day or even every time you begin to feel overwhelmed by everything that is happening to you, take a moment and think about where you will be in one, two, five, or even 10 years. What will you be doing or what do you want to be doing? Take a notebook and make goals and dreams and things that you want to do by then. Instead of focusing on how your current problem is preventing you from doing any of this now, make plans on how you can accomplish all of this and start working towards making these things become a reality. Working towards something constructive is one of the first steps to getting past your struggles and making yourself truly happy.
Now although I agree with looking at the positive that could come from any situation, that does not mean that it’s the only step towards true optimism. If you solely look ahead at what’s to come, it may help you short term, but while you work towards these goals it may seem as though they are so far in the distance that they are unobtainable.
So instead of only looking ahead, you need to remember to look behind as well.
Look at how far you have come.
How much has changed?
For better or for worse.
You are not the same person you were. Whether the issue is big or small doesn’t matter because you have learned from every single thing that happens and it allows you to grow as a person.
However, although you should look back, do not dwell on the past. It is okay to think about how different everything was before this, but do not let that be all you take away. The sheer amount of energy I have wasted on looking at what I possibly could have done differently or how terrible specific circumstances were is one of the worst things I have done, not only for those around me who have had to hear me constantly over thinking these things but for my own mental health as well. Although you may feel like you need to purge, consistently doing so on the same topic is no help to you and only works at making you more anxious and angry about something that you no longer have any control over.
I am not saying never dwell on these things, but what is key to moving towards a more positive life is letting go. A weird trick that I have actually used on several occasions is something we have started calling “Issues to Ashes”. It may seem strange, but it actually really helps and allows for everyone to purge anything, even if they are not comfortable talking about it with another person.
All you do is take a piece of paper, write down the things that have caused you stress, pain, sadness or any negative emotion that is no longer needed and you burn it. It helps to give finality to abstract concepts.
This actually works best when you do it with a group of people. Not only does this create a support system by being there for each other, but it gives the entire moment more of an official feel about it.
You in no way have to tell anyone what you are writing down but you can if you so choose. I did this a while back with my sister and my mom. We set down a baking sheet on our deck and sat in a circle with some post it notes and one pen. We would pass the pen around after we had written down one thing on a post it and then we would burn that one note on its own. We continued doing this until there was nothing else to write on our sheets. The more energy and thoughts you put into this exercise, the more you get out of it in the end.
Looking At Right Now:
Last of all is probably the least likely thing that you would think of or try to do when you are trying to be positive. Most of the time, optimism seems to emphasize ignoring the problem and focusing on how better things are or will be in comparison. But those two things alone are not the only important thing for trying to move towards a happier and healthier life.
The final step is to enjoy the right now. Although what you may be dealing with is one of the toughest things you have gone through, as long as you look, you can find a positive twist on anything.
Being broken up with, but realizing the love your family and friends have for you when they have a “Single Celebration Party”.
Struggling with an illness, but realizing you want to have a career that allows you to help people with similar illnesses.
Even though my struggles have been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to go through, it has led me to this point. It has shaped me into being the person I am today. The way I think. The way I feel. And even what I want to do with my life. I know that sounds very cliché but it is true.
There is no experience you go through in life that does not change you or leave its mark on you in some way. Although your own personal journey may be something that you much rather never think about, think about how everything that you are going through is changing you. How it has made relationships grow, skills to develop, and your mind to expand.
Everything that is happening will have a purpose, whether direct or indirect. And don’t dismiss anything as a punishment. Instead, take time to acknowledge the positives, no matter how hard, and appreciate every moment as you develop into the person you were meant to become.
Now here is where I normally do a quick wrap up with what you just read, make some grand statement, or ask a question and have you leave a comment below. But I don’t want to do that this time. What I want you all to do is tell someone how they make your day brighter. More fun. Or just overall better. You can do it in a text, over the phone, in person, or even through a letter, just let these people know that even when you can’t think positively or are struggling to be optimistic, they make you remember. They bring a positive light to your life and even in your darkest times are there for you, and words will never be able to fully tell them how much this means to you.