“Let us rise up and be thankful, for it we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~ Buddha
Have you ever had one of those days where are you ready to embrace the day… you know exactly what you need to focus on and you are on FIRE! You are going to kick butt on your “to do” list and then… BAM… something happens that stops you in your tracks… and KERPLUNK… you feel like you just did a big old belly flop into the ocean?
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 was one of those days for me. I woke up ready to take on the day and was anxious to get to work early so I could focus on getting my Toastmaster’s speech ready while everything was still fairly quiet in the office. I hopped into my newly purchased vehicle at 6:30 in the morning and hit the starter button… dead. Lights… dead. Key fobs… dead. Enthusiasm for this day… dead.
Yes, I went from ready to rock and roll to shuffling my feet up the stairs to my home office and sitting down with a THUD. Dispirited… frustrated… angry.
When things don’t go according to plan, it is not uncommon for many of us to start viewing the situation in a negative fashion. We feel a bit out of control and that sense of dis-empowerment can get us cranky – right?
There is a newer field in psychology called Positive Psychology. This science is the study of strengths and virtues that enable individuals… to thrive. It is based on the belief that people want to be happy and lead meaningful lives. I bring this up because we all know that being positive 24/7 is a bit of a pipe-dream for most of us and we need to understand that it is okay to not be a Positive Polly every minute of every day of our lives.
The question is, what do we do when we are feeling out of sorts and a bit angry when our carefully crafted plans go awry? How can we turn around the negative feelings into a better frame of mind so that we can move forward and take positive action?
- Be around positive people. Positivity begets positivity just similarly to how negativity can breed negativity. When I hopped into the tow truck Tuesday morning to get my new car to the dealership, I was not feeling very positive. Immediately the two guys from Elite Towing struck up a conversation and soon something changed in my attitude. One of the guys was telling me about how he used to work in the service department at a car dealership. He talked about how cars are so computerized these days and everything is so connected to each other that when one thing fails, it can cause a chain reaction. He told me that he had seen his fair share of cars that were recently purchased only to be towed into the shop a few days later because of some problem that could not have been predicted. I realized during this conversation that my car problems were not due to my husband and I buying a lemon of a car but was something that could have happened to anyone… with any car.
- Realize that the change in plan isn’t life or death. The driver of the tow truck shared his experiences and some of the accidents he had been dispatched to during his long history of driving tow trucks. He spoke of seeing cars cut in half… people being dismembered or severely burned. He saw people who died horrific deaths… and he saw people survive in unimaginable circumstances. When we pulled up in front of the dealership, I turned and thanked both of these men for helping me to re-frame my thoughts. They helped me see that the little detour of my daily plan that morning was really quite insignificant compared to true tragedies some people go through in their lives.
- Turn the negative experience into a positive plan for action. I set out to write a Toastmaster’s speech first thing that morning but in all honesty, I did not have a clue what my topic was going to be. As a true believer of the things happen for a reason school of thought, I decided to make a conscious effort (that would mean that I started talking to myself in my car) to focus on how I could change this negative experience into a positive one. The result? My Toastmaster’s speech (and this blog post) were created…
- Exercise Gratitude. There are many studies on the effects of Gratitude that show if we are diligent in thinking about what we are thankful for each day, it can improve our happiness very quickly and happiness can lead to better productivity, improved health, longer lives and getting along better with others.
Yes, Tuesday, August 12, 2014 started out at 6:30 in the morning as a challenge but by 2:30 in the afternoon, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, my Toastmaster’s speech was written and MY CAR WAS FIXED!
I would like to end with the words of the great philosopher, Confucius:
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large”.
I would love if you would share a time when you were able to turn your negative circumstances into something positive and powerful!