I had a mini-epiphany (miniphany?) today while driving back to work on my lunch break. Today was another great day. Yes, this is an affirmation post. I didn’t think yesterday was a great day while it was happening, but now… yeah, I think it was a great day. And today is, too. I’m alive. I have the ability to make my own choices and follow through on them. Everyone I love stayed alive today. Sure, the sentiment is a little corny, a little silly even, but I feel better when believing that I have the choice of thinking of today as a good day or a bad day. Every day has pain and disappointment in it. But what I focus on gives the greatest weight to my day. Today I choose to focus on the positive and deal with the negatives as just a part of any day. There are no perfect days, even if our memories and dreams try to tell us there are. But imperfect doesn’t equal bad. What makes a great day is the ratio of good to bad that I see. Not that exists. That I see. Maybe I’m forced to see the bad. Maybe I choose to look for the good. Maybe some days I’m too tired to go looking. But there’s always good if I want to find it. Today I choose to be happy that I have the ability to make my own choices. I choose to treasure the people and things in my life rather than bemoan the things I lack. I’m not ignoring these things; I’m just giving them less weight in the ratio of good to bad. The negatives do not outweigh the positives. And if they do… well that’s a wake-up call that it’s time for a change.
I think the beginning of this little affirmation and positive thinking kick began yesterday while my husband was working things out with his bank. He was extremely upset about some shenanigans happening in his account, and he said that I should stay in the car if I didn’t want to hear him yelling at people. I stayed in the car. While waiting, I considered if I should have suggested that he take a more moderate approach. I decided that he has to handle things his way and I handle things mine, and that saying something like “you catch more flies with honey” wouldn’t help his game face. (I also knew that his talk was more about psyching himself up than actually planning on yelling at anyone.) But it started me thinking about my own approach in that situation. I tend to go to pieces when it comes to conflict. That’s purely descriptive based on some deep analysis of my childhood. With the role models I had and the conflict I experienced in what should have been a loving, supportive environment, it isn’t surprising that I turned out as I did. I can accept that even as I try to improve my ability to stand up for myself. I have mentioned several times to my husband that I admire the way he doesn’t back down and insists on what he feels is right. He recently told me that sometimes he wishes he could be less aggressive in those situations. That it gets him into trouble or makes a situation worse more times than it helps. And in a major confidence boost for me, he said he thinks the way I handle things is better. I’m calm. I don’t fly off the handle when things go poorly. People respond better to me. While I’m not entirely sure I believe that yet, I suppose you can always come back and try again if you haven’t burnt your bridges.
I realized while sitting there, waiting for the sounds of raised voices and security guards (not really), that if I were in the same situation, I would want to go into it believing that people will help me, believing that the situation would be resolved to my benefit, than to go in believing the opposite. Sure, some things in a situation like this, dealing with finances, are set-in-stone based on the data, the policy, etc. But a lot of it depends on how much people want to help you. Even if you end up at the same resolution in the end, an unhelpful employee can add so much time to just processing your request. So my ability to get someone to help me actually makes a difference. There may be some people who will always try to help, because that’s who they are. There may be some people who will always try to hinder, because that’s who they are. But there are a lot of people whose level of empathy, of compassion, changes based on their mood, on the kind of day they’re having, and on their first impression of the person looking for help. If I go into the situation believing the best of them, I think I’m more likely to receive it. Many people want to live up to people’s expectations. Or live down to them. It isn’t conscious, and it isn’t everyone, but I think it’s a significant amount. If I expect the best out of people, some of them will live up to that. If I expect the worst out of people, some of them will live down to that. I would rather encourage the former.
I realized I would rather expect the best and be disappointed, than expect the worst and be rarely surprised.
I’ve read quotes about not expecting anything and you will never be disappointed, or that it’s better to be surprised than disappointed. I disagree. I am resilient enough to deal with disappointment. I do not need to lower my expectations because some might not be met. Of course they’re all not going to be met. But I also think that some situations are self-fulfilling. I really do. And if I believe that my attitude can change the outcome, the logical next step is to approach each situation with the best attitude I can bring. Is there an approach to life call pragmatic optimism? I think that may be me. Which is slightly horrifying because I used to consider myself a pragmatist with a touch of doom and gloom.
Approach situations with positivity because you may be the unknown factor.
I’m not entirely certain how that realization led to the #AnotherGreatDay affirmation, but I know they’re connected. Maybe it’s because I instinctively lumped myself into the group of people whose outlook and willingness to help others is largely dependent upon how their day is going and how others are treating them. I’m okay-ish with that, but I’d like to be closer on the spectrum to the group that wants to help people every day, no matter what. I think people like my mother fit into that group. I don’t think I’ll ever reach that level of selflessness. Being the self-aware bitch I am, I know that deep-down-inside I don’t want to be in that group. I like being selfish. But only to a certain point. I think you can fight for yourself to be the best and happiest you can be, to get what you want and not just what you need, to put yourself first, without actually stepping on others to do it. That definitely kicks me out of the running for sociopathic career climber, but so be it. I just can’t be that person. I guess I also realized that I can expect the best from myself without expecting perfection. I don’t expect perfection from anyone else, so why set myself up with unrealistic standards? To meet that expectation (of best, but not perfect), I need to change how I approach my daily life. The definition of “best” will change each day, and the definition of “great” will change each day, but being my best starts with treating each day like it is already great. How many great days will I have if I start off thinking they’re great? How many great days will I have if I start off thinking they’re a waste? I know those questions have different answers for me. If they have different answers for you, too, then maybe it’s worth starting each day with the expectation that it will be a good one.
I fully realize that there will be days, many days, where the bad stomps all over me and I can’t even open my bruised eyes to try to find the good… but that day isn’t today. And I don’t find meaning and joy in today by worrying about those future disasters. Sure, my financial situation isn’t great. But I’m working on it. I’ve made choices that put me on the path to where I want to be. So it hurts every time I eat or drink because I had multiple tubes shoved down my throat yesterday. I acknowledge that and I choose to eat something I love so that I know the pain is worth it. That makes me feel better, mentally if not physically. My ankles are so painful that I have to crawl up the stairs some mornings to get to the bathroom. But I can get out of bed. And if I keep moving, the pain gradually gets better. Every time I stop moving for a while, it slams back into place and I have to start over. But being able to walk somewhere on my own is worth it. Face the pain and come through it. Facing is not ignoring. It isn’t saying “There is no pain.” It’s saying “There is pain, but today I am stronger.” Maybe I won’t be tomorrow, but we all know that tomorrow is another day. 🙂