aging parents, midlife, personal growth

Does Positive Thinking Really Help? Learn How to Use Perspective to Find Gratitude

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Does Positive Thinking Really Help?

Yes! Learn How Perspective Can Lead to Gratitude and Positive Thinking

You know you should feel grateful, but you feel bummed, disappointed and even angry that your day is not going as you planned, or your car needs a new transmission. If we look for them, we can find so many reasons that our day, our life, even our world, is disappointing.

It takes more effort to look for the upside, but it’s so well worth it.

Are you breathing…

If you know me, you know I am a caregiver to my eighty-four-year-old mother. She lives not far away and I’m there several times a week to help her as she becomes less and less capable on her own.

Last week, her dog CoCo, ate my mom’s teeth.

No, thankfully, the teeth weren’t still in my mother’s mouth.

As my mom’s dentist explained to me yesterday, older people with dentures frequently remove them when they are home alone – kind of like coming home and kicking off your shoes and removing your bra. It feels good.

So, mom laid them down where she shouldn’t have and her chihuahua had a party with them. Chewed them up and spit them out. Individual false teeth littered like Chiclets on the carpet, plucked clean off the pink denture base.

Mom ended up spending nearly a week without teeth until we could get to an appointment with her dentist.

This could have been quite distressing for many people.

But guess what? My mom didn’t give a hoot about not having teeth.

After the first day, she was downright liberated!

She strolled right through the supermarket with me, giving a big old toothless grin to the mother and her two little girls in the cereal aisle. Might have been the scariest trip to the food store those two girls ever had, but my mom was feeling no shame.

She’s grateful to wake up every morning. With that perspective, teeth are trivial! Having teeth (false or real) is a bonus!

It’s perspective that leads us to gratitude.

It’s our attitude on the negative that makes the positive difference in our mindset and outlook.

It is easy to get stuck dwelling on the down and lose sight of the up.

There are truly painful times in life. The loss of a loved one, a family member suffering from illness, the death of a pet, a hurtful divorce, losing a job. I could go on for days listing reasons to feel down.

But, the list of good in our lives can go on for days too, if we take time to think about them.

Let’s start with the fact that we’re breathing. Seriously. It’s that simple.

The shift from negative to positive thinking is that basic and can really help with our attitude.

Start thinking about the most basic elements of your life that you are thankful for, and it begins to lighten the shade of the awful.

It’s all about finding perspective

When my father passed away unexpectedly fifteen years ago, it was a heart-shredding experience. But I will never forget what a close friend said to me when she called to provide comfort. She knew my dad and the incredibly warm and close relationship we had enjoyed throughout my life. She knew how much he had been a part of my life and how he was a part of who I was.

She told me to be grateful for having had my dad, and the time we had together. That although he was gone too soon, at least I had him for a time, and I was able to experience a father’s love.

She had not.

Although her father was still alive at the time, she had never known the love, protection, laughter, and warmth of having a loving dad in her life. She didn’t experience the memories with her dad that I did over the years I had him.

Hearing her words immediately shifted my thoughts.

Yes, I was still sad and grieving and torn apart. But underneath it all, I stayed anchored to thoughts of gratitude that I had enjoyed the experience of growing up with a loving, supportive father.

I knew I would sorely miss him for the all the days of my life (and I do), but I am grounded in gratitude for having known him at all. So many others haven’t had that.

Using positive thinking practices to get unstuck

What are you dwelling on in your life that keeps you stuck? What thoughts keep you snagged on a rock instead of floating along appreciating all the beautiful blessings in your life as they come and go?

Maybe it takes looking outward at what others are coping with to find perspective and get unstuck.

I have a friend named Wendy. She is a quadruple amputee. She could sit and dwell in her misfortune and the challenges she faces every hour of every day doing things we take for granted, like cooking for her family, but instead, she is full of light.

She has more optimism and positivity gushing out of her than most people with far smaller obstacles. She is determined to not only live a full and happy life, but to spread cheer and to inspire other women, especially fellow amputees, through the online community she created called One Exceptional Life.

She has the attitude of gratitude! She is thankful for her life, her family and all the good in her life.

There will always be someone suffering more than you. There are hundreds (thousands!) of people in worse circumstances living through tragedy and unspeakable pain.

Wake up and count your blessings!

Look for the bright side – the glass half full – the appreciation for what you have, rather than what you don’t have. Gratitude for what doesn’t hurt, rather than complaints about what does hurts.

Positivity for what could be, not for what might not.

Hope for what could go right instead of what could go wrong.

Believe, people! You’ve got this!

Stop yourself when you want to complain. Unstick your thoughts when you see that you’re dwelling on the car repair bill or the speeding ticket.

Breathe slowly and deeply. Use positive thinking to help you shift your mind back to gratitude.

It absolutely could be worse.

Smile in the mirror at yourself. You may see a few wrinkles and gray hairs, a little chub here and there, but at least you have teeth!

Cheers to perspective, positive thinking and to finding the upside!  – Marlene

 


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4 thoughts on “Does Positive Thinking Really Help? Learn How to Use Perspective to Find Gratitude

  1. Amen, sister!! Everyday we are going to face some type of challenge or situation that will threaten to bring us down. But to choose gratefulness no matter what comes our way will strengthen us and keep us healthier in mind and body!! Thanks Marlene!!

  2. What a great post, Marlene. Once again I laughed at the chicklets on the floor and taking moms teeth out like removing your bra at the end of the day. You are so right, though. If we don’t look at life with the spirit of gratitude and positivity, we can make ourselves absolutely miserable in this dark and cruel world. I choose optimism. Thank you so much for including me in your post and thank you for your friendship.

    1. Your positive thinking and grateful attitude in the face of daily challenges greater than most of us face, is always inspiring! Sending you light and love my friend! <3

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