About a month ago I found myself in the Emergency Room with my eldest. The instant she was given crutches and a boot for her broken foot her attitude changed from sulking to excitement. She is well within the years when crutches and casts are a badge of honor, excitement and attention.
Since she and her friends are too young for cell phones, she asked me to message her friend’s mom so her friend could see her. The mother’s response:
What happened? I am so sorry for this injury…how do you stay so positive?
I laughed out loud at her question – “how do you stay so positive?” You see she knew my daughter’s broken foot came on the heels of my son’s broken arm. He hadn’t even been out of his cast a week. But I also had to laugh because I don’t know her that well. She doesn’t even know the half of what I have been through.
Life can throw some really tough stuff at us. It can beat us down and beat us up, but how we respond to it is up to us. We can choose to be bitter and angry or we can choose to not allow the tough stuff to steal our joy.
I am not saying any emotion other than joy is bad. Emotions are part of life. Walking through the emotional spectrum is healthy but getting stuck in negative emotions is not how I want to live.
There is a time to feel sad and a time to feel joyful. I want to choose to feel joyful and optimistic as often as I can.
How do we choose joy? I am sure it is different for everyone. These are just a couple of ways I have learned to choose joy.
First, I think it comes down to perspective. We’ve heard the adage –
“This too shall pass.”
It’s true. Whatever we are facing will eventually end.
Life is full of seasons. Each season is different, but all seasons eventually end. Knowing this is comforting, especially when it is a difficult season.
Even life itself is a season. Life ends. Nothing is permanent. We may face difficulties in this life, but those difficulties end when this life ends. This gives me hope. Because of my faith I know that all things become new and perfect the other side of this life.
When things are tough in life, I also like to intentionally look for the good. I promise you it’s there. Maybe it’s the friends who rally behind us. A good day. Feeling practically normal for a day. Maybe it’s a meal someone brought or an encouraging note.
Celebrate whenever possible. When life gets hard, when it feels overwhelming, when we are hurting, looking for and finding moments to celebrate is important. I am not suggesting we celebrate the hard or crummy stuff. I am saying when life gets us down, when it knocks us down, I have found one of the best ways to react is to look for opportunities to celebrate.
Even in life’s hardest seasons there are occasions for celebration. Even if it is merely celebrating we survived, or the worst is behind us. Maintaining a positive attitude is a huge part of any battle. Fighting back and not letting hardship get the best of us.
What better way to fight back than to celebrate? What better way to highlight benchmarks along a difficult road, than to celebrate them? What better way to lift our spirits than a celebration?
I first touched upon this idea in my post – Boob-Voyage. Yes, I threw a farewell party for my boobs pre-mastectomy. And it was one of my favorite moments along this whole breast cancer journey. It made light of a crummy situation.
Planning the party in the weeks leading up to my mastectomy also gave me something to focus upon other than my impending surgery. Something I was actually looking forward to. Something fun and lighthearted during a very heavy season.
Smack dab in the middle of my breast cancer journey we took a family trip to Disney World. The trip had been in the works for over a year. Having that trip halfway through turned out to be such a reprieve. An opportunity to forget about surgeries and illness and focus upon family and fun together. A celebration of life. Cherishing moments of laughter, hugs, cuddles and sheer delight as a family.
After my first reconstruction surgery my husband and I spent a week in Kauai. Every year we take a trip, just the two of us. Sometimes it is a weekend away at a hotel close to home. But about every other year, we take a big trip. Our big trip year coincided with my breast cancer journey. Because of my breast cancer and Disney World we had not made any plans. But halfway through the year and thanks to lots (and lots and lots…) of work travel for my hubby, we cashed in on miles and points to fly, stay and even eat some meals for free.
Our vacation became an opportunity to connect, relax and celebrate that the worst was behind us. Reflecting on the previous year seemed surreal. I could not believe all we had been through in the past year. I was so grateful to be on the other side of it.
Celebrating doesn’t require a grand gesture, a big party or a vacation. It can be as simple as something you enjoy. Marking an occasion with ice cream, a cup of coffee, a night out with your spouse or friends, or a massage. You get the idea. Anything that serves as a reward and reminds us of a milestone.
Choosing to celebrate will lift your spirits. It is the act of giving oneself permission to relax and unwind, even if it is merely temporary. To lighten the mood. To recharge and prepare for what lies ahead.
To say for a set period – I choose joy. I choose to highlight the good. To savor the moment. To draw attention to the milestone. To enjoy community or savor something that brings delight or delights the senses.
Moving forward, I want to celebrate more of the good in life. Life throws enough difficulties at us. I want to intentionally choose to highlight the good. Just being alive is a gift and a reason to celebrate.
Celebrating, looking for the good, and having perspective are just a few ways I stay positive. What about you? How do you choose to stay positive? Have you taken inventory of the good in your life? What can you do today to choose joy? Maybe it’s time for a celebration.