ANN BAILEY: Looking on the brighter side of lifeMaybe it’s the incessant cold winds or the sub-zero temperatures. Or it could be that we haven’t seen a blade of green grass in at least four months. Then again, maybe I have nothing to blame it on but myself. Whatever the cause for it, I realized last week that I’m feeling crabby and that’s reflected in my attitude. The world has seemed like a pretty dark, hopeless place and I’ve been doing more than my share of complaining about its sorry state.
By: Ann Bailey, Grand Forks Herald
Maybe it’s the incessant cold winds or the sub-zero temperatures. Or it could be that we haven’t seen a blade of green grass in at least four months. Then again, maybe I have nothing to blame it on but myself.
Whatever the cause for it, I realized last week that I’m feeling crabby and that’s reflected in my attitude. The world has seemed like a pretty dark, hopeless place and I’ve been doing more than my share of complaining about its sorry state.
I’d like to say that I had an epiphany that changed my thinking, but I really have to give the credit to a friend who, instead of empathizing with me, told me I was being really negative and that I needed to look on the sunny side of life. Initially, I resented his observation, but the more I started to think about it, the more I realized he had a point.
I decided that I did need an attitude adjustment and that instead of looking at all of the things that were wrong with the world and its people, I would focus on the good things. After all, there’s a limit to what I can change, and I hope to be here for at least another 45 or 50 years. I don’t want to waste a second, let alone days, of the time I have left by being a negative Nellie (my apologies to any positive people with that name) so I told myself I would try to look on the bright side.
The sunny side
Here’s a few of the things that I thought of that give me renewed hope for the world:
• The good, caring people that I know. There are many of them both in my community and at work and they demonstrate their kindness in many tangible ways, including helping out at fundraisers, lending a hand to people who are having health or financial challenges and treating people with respect even when their actions are not reciprocated.
• The selflessness and resolve of the people in public positions who go about their jobs calmly and who remain dedicated to their work in the midst of turbulent times. I admire their ability to stay focused and to not retaliate when they come under verbal or — worse anonymous comments via the Internet — attack.
• The honest, gut reaction of my oldest son who is repelled by the bad behavior of people who have drank too much alcohol, and who, when he hears bragging, confides to me that he chooses not to do that because “actions speak louder than words.”
Some people tend to look at teenagers collectively, as a hopeless cause, but there are a lot of good ones along with the bad apples. I’m not naïve enough to think my sons and daughter will never make mistakes, some of which may have serious consequences, but I know that they have a solid foundation and sense of right and wrong.
• My children’s teachers and coaches who go the extra mile for their students. Their reward obviously is more than a monetary one and I appreciate their dedication. They work to not only instill knowledge in their students, but also take a genuine interest in helping them to become trustworthy, responsible adults.
• The seed catalogs that have been arriving in my mailbox and the rows of brightly colored packets on racks at area stores. Though I likely won’t be able to be on my hands and knees dropping seeds into the soil for another six weeks or longer, the fact that they’re being sold puts (a) spring in my step.
There are many things I can’t control in life, but attitude is one that I can, so I’ll monitor myself to make sure I’m not slipping into my old pattern. I know that given my tendency to be judgmental, there’s a good chance I may find myself again being a harsh critic. If that happens, I’ll pull out a piece of paper or sit down in front of the computer and record another “hope” list.
The first one showed me that doing so is pretty much a guarantee, the sun will be smiling down on me, no matter the weather.