Tips for Leading a Positive Life

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The old adage “ignorance is bliss” can be painfully true sometimes. Early on in my college experience, I ended up baking cookies with my friend and her ex-boyfriend, a summer flame from years past. We had intended for this ginger manchild to give us a lesson on how to make no-bake cookies; however, he attempted to lay some cosmic knowledge on us that he learned in his sketchy adventures across the globe. Long story short, we ended up discussing the complexities of humankind and the universe.  I’m not sure whether it was the weight of the air in the room, or the fatigue from laying on the beach all day, but we remember only bits and pieces of this dense conversation that took place as the cookies settled. Through a fog, I remember Lucie tapping me and asking, “Why are you staring at that family crest?” It was green and gold and meant nothing to me. I closed my eyes, shook my head, but still felt confined by the heat and pressure. I’m never one to have my head in the clouds, so we left immediately after eating the no-bake cookies. Looking back, this was a questionable choice. We only remember him repeating to me, “You’re a thinker.”

It didn’t matter how strange this surreal, out-of-body experience with this gingerman was; we always refer to his phrase, “You’re a thinker.” I always overanalyze things. I play out convoluted situations in my head after they happen, and I think of how the person reacted to every serious comment I made. I do this with happy occasions too, but overthinking can be a dangerous game in terms of regret. You start thinking of could-have, would-have, should-have circumstances and you get further from accepting what came of the situation. Despite this, I am a happy, upbeat person. I smile in uncomfortable situations; I help strangers because it hurts me to not to. I don’t understand people who think all of our society/world/universe is doomed. There is still beauty in the world, although many people around us cling to the negative. I agree with Anne Frank: People are inherently good, despite many aspects of evil in the world. At this time, I’m not prepared to help with the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But, here’s a few ideas of how to deal with the world when you’re thinking, “Why does my life suck?”

1) There is no such thing as a bad day, week, month, or year. You only have bad moments. I’m sure something positive occurred during that time frame too. Saying you’re having a bad day might cause you to overlook good things.

2) Not “getting what you want” always has a marginal benefit to you. If things don’t work out the way you envisioned, talk it out with a friend or make a list of the things that can now happen because the said thing did not. This is particularly helpful with boys, jobs, apartments, etc.– really any missed opportunities.

3) Ask yourself if you’ll still care about this problem in 5 hours, 5 days, 5 months, and 5 years. Then react accordingly. You don’t need to call everyone you know for advice and sympathy about a temporary problem. Also, you probably shouldn’t waste your time grieving temporary uncertainties/issues.

4) Reach out to friends/family/strangers if you need help, or a good laugh. Too many people go with the urge to isolate themselves when they’re upset, and usually it doesn’t help. Friends and family provide us with support, but a nice stranger can really impact our views on human behavior.

5) Put your energy into something productive, creative, and tangible (if you’re that type of person). Do some play therapy: pick up a box of crayons and color; doodle on the back of your phone bill; freewrite your feelings or a story; build something; or finish a home project. Being silly and feeling accomplished goes a long way.

6) Plan a trip if you have money, a date if you have an exciting crush, and always a fancy dinner with a friend to reward yourself, because you deserve it.

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