By Connie Masak, APNP

“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all” ~ Peter McWilliams

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” ~ Anais Nan

I’ve been working on my personal outlook for probably half of my life. It was especially tough while my children were young. Their achievements were my “highs” and their heartbreaks were my “lows”. However, as I tried to bring them back from their latest bout of despair, saying all the right words even though I may not have believed them myself, one time something inside of me clicked and my positivity journey began. Now, no one can be positive about all things, all of the time. Sometimes you have to look really hard and dig deep to find that silver lining and even then, it may be somewhat tarnished.

My hope for this essay is that maybe, just maybe, it will spark something in you to start your own positivity journey or perhaps just help to polish a tarnished one.

Every cloud has a silver lining right? Every situation has a positive viewpoint. Now the situation may not be a pleasant one; take for instance the COVID-19 situation we are currently in. I encourage you to step back and take the time you need to process exactly what this means for you and your family. Don’t be immediately reactive. Trying to force optimism usually is disastrous, believe me. So after you have stepped back and processed, ask yourself: “What is one thing that is good about this situation?” There are so many good things to be found in a bad situation, you just need to look and ask.

I also strive to cultivate a positive living environment. The people you surround yourself with, the TV shows you watch, the books you read, and social media all have a huge impact on your outlook. Ask yourself: “What/who makes me happy?”, “What/who drags me down?” Add more happy to your day. There is nothing wrong with distancing yourself from people or activities that you don’t enjoy. It’s okay to put yourself first.

Fear of failure is a terrible thing. Fear can hold you back from what you want. I have been a scaredy-cat most of my life. My mom was a scaredy-cat too. She was overly cautious about everything and was not one to take risks. In the past few years I have realized that you need to take chances to reach your happiness. Status quo is easy. Stepping out of your comfort zone is terrifying. Self-doubt is by far the biggest dream crusher there is, so ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then jump at the chance. Start small, build up your confidence and with each success you will realize that the only thing holding you back is you.

I know that you have heard this a billion times, but it is true – what you send out into the world you will get back from the world and the people in it. What you send out matters! Smile at people! You will be shocked at how many smile back! Listen…just listen, to friends, to family to your son and daughter, to your mom, they will appreciate it. My daughter has always told me that she doesn’t tell me things so that I can fix them, or so that I can give her advice, sometimes she just needs someone to listen. Play some uplifting music, watch an uplifting movie, give encouragement whenever and wherever you can. What you send out matters, so spread your positivity and let it touch every nook and cranny of your life.

Last but certainly not least, start your day in a positive way. My husband and I get up super early. We leave for work at about the same time – 7:30 a.m., but he gets up at 5 and I get up at 5:30. We started this little ritual when the kids were school-aged. We felt it was the only time we really had for the two of us before the chaos of the day began. We have continued this morning routine even though our children are grown and out on their own. It sets the pace for the day. To ease into a new day with a hot cup of coffee and a sunrise is never a bad thing.

So, there you have it. A little look into the life of a positivity seeker. I just hope that my words have sparked a curiosity and perhaps we will begin to spread more positivity in the coming months.