Monday, October 19, 2015

The Power of Positive Thinking.

Memory is an interesting thing. I remember being fascinated by it as a young child. On multiple occasions through grade school, and high school, I would sit at my desk and think, "OK. Even though nothing remarkable happened on this day. I am going to remember it. Is it possible? What can I do to never forget this day? The conversations I had? The people I saw? The joy I felt in the small things? What I had for lunch?" As you can see, I remember having these thoughts, but no, I remember nothing about those days. I cannot remember what I ate, who I spoke with nor which activities I participated in, on any single one of those days that I tried so hard to mark in my memory.

The things I do remember, are things I photographed. The things I retold, over and over, turning them into funny stories. The events that I still discuss, rehash and laugh about with friends. I also remember traumatic events, like watching my dog get hit by a car, because my brain brings it back up, I talk about it, I think about it. Imagine, if all I talked about, photographed and discussed with friends and family were the negative things in my life. What do you think I would remember then? How do you think I would perceive my life?

I know there is this constant talk about our "social media" lives versus our "real" lives. How this "humble bragging", "happy all the time", "always picture perfect" posting is impacting others and making them feel guilty, inadequate, and not as successful at life than their peers. When, in reality, we are all {for the most part} going through the exact same thing. I would like to dispute this argument. I believe negative, or even constant "real" posts, would only make matters worse. It's one thing to vent about a poor experience, and another to ruminate on it. We all have those friends, the ones who bring us down, who we feel like they must be depressed because of their constant posts: no sleep, kids sick, I'm sick, traffic, work, drama, hospital, doctor, vet, car problems, plumbing problems, no time, tired. I see this and can't help but wonder: is this how they view their life? It's such hard work. It's so heavy. When they remember things, this is what they will remember, because THIS is what they talked about, all the time. To friends. To family. To their SELF.

For me, positive thinking is now second nature. I don't believe I was born like this. I had an incredible swim coach during my formative years, who trained us to think positive. I have parents who reinforced it. I've surrounded myself by people who bring me up, and join in my happiness. I have a hard time even creating negative thoughts, posts or memories, because I simply don't see negativity anymore. Sure, I see hurdles, I see difficult moments, I see poop and pee and temper tantrums and anxiety and lack of sleep and sometimes I even write about them, but then I see over-coming these trials, and view it as a time to celebrate. At the end of it, I remember surviving (or I don't remember it at all) because, that was my focus.

I just think we all get so consumed with everyone else. With external circumstances. With the feeling "poor me", "why me". We forget, the power of positive thinking. So, next time you have a bad experience, wait to tell about it when you can be proactive, maybe resolve it, and be encouraged by the result, instead of depressed about the journey. And, gosh darn it, next time you want to "humble brag" on Facebook or Instagram, do it. That way, when you decide to take a trip down memory lane, scroll through your own feed, see your "TimeHop" memories, the content that will be thrust in your face will be an awesome life, full of happiness and beauty. Which is exactly what life is. Or can be.

As a concrete, personal example, I performed the art of positive thinking just last night. Matt has been in New York for 3 days, and being single mother to 5 under the age of 7 is inherently difficult, stressful and exhausting without any added mishaps. Being a perfect fall weekend, by Sunday night, the boys were utterly, and completely filthy, with face paint and all. Every inch of every single one of them was covered in dirt. My mother offered to make dinner for us, and we tried to eat by 6:00 so I would have time to get them home and clean and ready for school the following day. By the time we finished with the meal I was done. I really couldn't stomach the idea of bathing all 4 of them while trying to care for the infant. So my mom suggested we throw them in the tub at her place and just send them home in some t-shirts.
     Well, the same wonderful reason they were filthy is the same reason they were EXHAUSTED! Bath time turned into kick, splash, hit, throw a fit and cry time. (In all honesty, I laughed through most of it, which probably upset the kids more, as I was not validating their emotions, but it was RIDICULOUS). My brother, home from school for the weekend, sat downstairs, listening to the disaster, wondering all the while who might survive this whole bathing ordeal. They all did, they made it. As I collected their belongings and packed up to leave, my mother dressed them. I walked down the stairs to find them all surrounding her, like 4 baby birds, being fed fruit snacks. That is the image I captured. It's the image I posted about. It was my favorite moment of the day. Had I not just written this little ditty, the joy I felt seeing my four, clean boys, surrounding my mother is all I would have remembered. This bath time calamity would have been completely forgotten, and viewed only as a fun, positive experience.

Only you have the power to mold your memories and therefore, your life. You can choose, on this day, to remember it as a happy one. And one day at a time, you will be creating your happy life. A life that is real, that exists, that is by no means "fake". Just because of a bit of positive thinking {and posting, and story-telling}.

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