Life is really, really hard.
I don't say this flippantly: life is tough. There are people who are out of work. People who are working, but still struggle to make ends meet. People who are dealing with health issues, or the health issues of their loved ones. People who have lost people who are important to them.
There is no doubt: life is really, really hard.
I say this because I know that there are some who feel that I'm a Pollyanna, sunny-side-of-the-street type, who lives in a constant state of denial; or worse, leads some sort of preternaturally charmed life. I assure you that this isn't the case: in the past couple of months, I've had people extremely close to me (including my mom) who have come face-to-face with their own mortality. Marcus and I disagree, we wrestle with taxes and finances, we worry we're making proper parenting choices. Make no mistake: I deal with challenges in my life all the time.
And yet, over time, I have come to realize most of the difficult times that I deal with are often completely out of my control; furthermore, the only way I can make it through tough times -- the only way -- is to do as much as I can to check my attitude. I try really hard to make a habit (and trust me, this is a conscious decision) of focusing as much as possible on what is going on that is good in my life, even if it feels like what's good is being outweighed by what's difficult. It's for this reason that I've made a solid gratitude practice a priority. It's the reason I go on frequent media diets (most recently refusing to read or watch anything related to the US presidential election -- I'll pick it up again closer to voting time). It's why I try to minimize how much kvetching I do online, refusing to amplify minor annoyances in my life, or give them more attention (or more of a spotlight) than they deserve.
For me, practicing gratitude and minimizing negativity are nonnegotiables.
So naturally, yesterday I was so grateful to a lovely woman named Heather who sent me the recent TED talk you see below. I can't encourage you enough to take your cup of coffee (or tea or a glass of wine) and put aside 12-1/2 minutes and watch this very funny and informative video from Shawn Achor, a distinguished educator from Harvard University whose data indicates that not only is happiness not a biproduct of success, but rather that happiness fuels success, and that we are capable of reprogramming our brains to be more positive.
It's an inspiring talk, and has me considering additional ways to practice more positivity.