I can be a super upbeat person. I think that is what folks would say. My boys have always accused me of being far “too perky” – especially in the mornings. However, being positive or optimistic doesn’t mean I am naive and above what real life can throw our way. Life can be pretty daunting. It can be really heavy, and not fun, and just plain hard and awful. being optimistic also does not mean that I am happy all of the time. I’m here to talk about the difference. And it’s a big one.
Sometimes the little things in life can feel like big things. Sometimes the big things can feel like what they are . . . really big things that don’t have answers. If you are a “fixer” (like so many of us are) then those big things might be beyond your ability to fix. And that makes things even more difficult. Often you feel as if you have an elephant on your chest, or on your shoulders or, heck, that elephant might be sitting on your head. Having the mindset to deal with that elephant can make all the difference.
Being upbeat and positive is different from being happy. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, but being optimistic or positive is a mindset. That is a choice we can all make. I truly believe that in this day and age there is too much stress placed on being happy. I think our children now feel this incredible stress to feel happy all of the time and think they need to be happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is absolutely ridiculous and impossible .
I have three sons who have shown themselves to be strong and courageous during some dark times. During Easter lunch we talked about life and resiliency and handling hard stuff. I told them that I did not agree with the statement from parents who “just want their children to be happy”. I told my children that was impossible. There is no way any one person can be happy every second of a day. Being of this generation of “gotta be happy all the time”, the Third Son commented that he had never thought of it like that. Bam.
Of course I want to protect my boys from hard stuff. That’s what all parents want, right? However, how does that help them later in life? At some point, life is not going to be fair, something hard or sad or brutal will cross their path. What then? How will they handle the hard stuff? I want to model the kind of resiliency and strength that comes from within and, for me, choosing to be positive has been the best way I know how to do that.
We have not been promised a rose garden. At some point disappointments will come. I have had to constantly tell myself to “put on my big girl panties” and get up and go. That’s my upbeat self talking, the positive side of me working. Being positive does not mean that I don’t get down or have negative thoughts. Being positive doesn’t even mean that I am happy. I have my fair share of unhappy moments, days and even weeks. But I know being happy is just a feeling. Happiness, like any other feeling such as sadness, anger, frustration, and remorse, are emotions. They are mercurial and will come and go. I think it’s important that we remember these emotions will not last. They are temporary. However, it is our mindset that will last and get us through. It will be there before, during and after the emotions have come and gone.
Being optimistic is a choice that keeps you going. It is what you can hold onto even when things seem to be falling apart. Here’s the truth, too. It feels a heck of a lot better than the alternative. (How many Eyore folks do you know?) I feel strongly that our health is more than the exercise and nutrition. Being mindful and having a positive mindset is another component that is just as important for overall well-being. This is an area that can be fine-tuned like a diet and worked on like any other part of a fitness routine. A healthy lifestyle has a mindset to help push you through all your moments and emotions, whether they are happy or sad.
And just for your viewing pleasure . . .