What really intrigued me about Jayme’s invitation to write for her Happy Friday series is that for the past couple years I have been on a mission to be more positive. So the first thing I did was scour this wonderful little Happy Friday series she has going and I LOVE it.
One of my favorites was the science of happiness and do-overs by Geoff Reiner. Geoff is in the midst of re-training his brain to be happy, and that’s exactly what I did, but not quite so deliberately and scientifically.
In my mind there are some folks who always have that “glass half full” attitude. I am not one of those people, but I’ve secretly envied them. It took me many, many years to recognize that I come from a family who just seems to see things negatively. There’s always something to worry about, there’s a dark side to everything. Having grown up in that atmosphere, it just seems normal and natural. But when someone points it out to you, then you stop and think.
I thank my husband for being the one to really point this out to me. I honestly didn’t realize how negative my attitude and my outlook could be. I would see faults in people often before I saw positive traits. I’d recognize the down side of a situation without seeing the benefits. For the most part, I was NOT a happy person, even if I seemed it outwardly.
So two years ago, I decided to change that. I bought a journal called “Gratitude” that helped on this journey. Each day had little tips or tricks or positive sayings, or little assignments for the owner to do. For instance, one of the daily assignments was to “find three things that went right in your day and figure out why they went right.”
And so I kept my journal, and made a conscious effort to find and be grateful for little things. I had to teach myself to recognize the positives each day, and even help others see the brighter side of things. Through this, I’ve discovered that sometimes you have to really look for things to be thankful for, but when you do, they’re always there. It also helped me come to a conclusion: happiness doesn’t just happen; it’s something you must choose, and something you have to work at.
And now? I’m SO much happier. I am not saying that every day is a joy, but there are definitely days that would have been much darker if I hadn’t adopted this new approach. It’s still a challenge because it doesn’t come naturally for me. I know I have to make a conscious effort to not dwell on the down side of things and remind myself that it’s important to see the positives in a situation.
If something goes wrong with our house, I now think of how much worse it could have been, and how lucky we are to be able to have this home. Now, when I’m talking to my mother and she’s focusing on the negative, I try to steer her in a more positive direction, rather than wallowing in the negative with her. When my company was having a difficult financial year and said “no raises,” I was thankful I still had a job. When I had a medical issue arise last year, I thought of how much worse it could have been and how lucky I am to have the good health I enjoy.
Through this whole experience, I’ve realized that it’s not how you’re born and raised and it’s not about luck. It’s all in how you look at things and about training your brain to choose the positive, count your blessings, recognize there are things to be grateful for, and find happiness in your everyday life. Because let’s face it… life is way too short to be unhappy.
So, how full is your glass?
About the author
Nancy Jean is a communications and media relations professional now specializing in social media for healthcare. She is currently with the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island, managing social media for five hospitals and a women’s health practice. A lifelong Rhode Islander, she is a mom to two rescue dogs and a diehard Red Sox fan who loves reading, writing, music and the beach. Follow her @NancyCawleyJean.