I was born a natural "half-glass-empty-girl." If there's a negative to be found, I can pinpoint it with tremendous accuracy...and, probably be the first to see it. I used to claim that I was a "realist." That made me feel a bit better, but the truth is that this was just an excuse. If there were such a thing as a "Negativity Olympics," I would hold the gold; although, I would not stand on the dais with pride.
Ok. Another funny. That glass is a picture of me...and Bay. That has been our life. He, always the optimist. Me, the pessimist. The world is filled with both. Yet, statistics show that the optimists tend to live longer...and those who do, live more fully, enjoying life to the very end (I read this in the online version of The Journal of Gerontology - I know, a nerd)!
I believe this to be true. The other thing I believe to be true is that
It's a matter of learning perspective. So, I try to fill my life with half-full-friends. Thirteen months ago, I lost one of those friends. She had the nerve to walk across the stage of life, grab her diploma, and graduate to heaven after a battle with cancer. Optimism can't cure cancer. It sure can help you in the fight, though. My good friend had a saying (her daughter, son-in-love, and I were talking about it this morning, in fact),
She did. All the way to the pearly gates. Her life was a thing to behold....and, to imitate.
What I learned from my friend is that there is a real premium on having a positive, affirmative, view of life. As an older mentor, and my biggest cheerleader, she taught me that I can change by taming the wild monkeys that jump around in my thought life. Seriously, my mind is very much like being in the African bush on most days. The monkeys screech and swing from tree to tree, and very seldom sleep.
It's a biblical truth. We transform our lives by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2). We develop the mind of Christ that is in us (1 Corinthians 2:16), and we teach ourselves to have the same mind-set (attitude) that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Yes, it's work (I know what you glass-half-empty's are thinking); but, it can actually be fun work. Much like looking at wrinkles and finding something to be thankful for about them...it's true, they really don't hurt (!), and...they are a great reminder of the life-we've-lived-that's-behind-us (aka: experience that's led to wisdom).
Part of taming the monkeys is reaching out for help to get out of old mental ruts. Remember this truth?
💖 Find mentors (like my friend) who teach us how to see life differently, instruct us in the ways of "paying attention" to things we might never see otherwise.
💖 Discover that good heart raising, strength-training, exercise is crucial for changing our cortisol levels (stress & depression inducing) to the helpful increase of endorphins (stress & depression reducing) - thank you WebMD. In fact, my gerontology research has shown that as we age, we better realize that a good mix of exercise, EVERY DAY (but one) of the week, needs to be considered our JOB!
💖 Attend to a wise sleep schedule (as much as one possibly can), meaning going to bed at a regular time and rising at a set time. Following a regular activity-reducing-pattern every night, which tells us that it's time to sleep.
💖 Incorporate rest and play in our schedule as a means of living full... Rest, I know about, after my study a couple years ago on joy, but I never realized how important play was. Then I read Mark Buchanan's book, The Rest of God. Buchanan says this when he discusses what is missing from Sabbathing-well,
"What's missing is a theology of play."
He's right. Nothing helps us clear our minds like a day of play! Christians have become enslaved to chronos-time. We've totally forgotten about kairos-time. Creating events. Making memories. Really living in the middle of life. Playing allows us to break free from the chains of a heavy taskmaster, and change our thinking.
💖 I'll add one more thing - the MOST IMPORTANT. Preach to ourselves. Repeat often, just as David did, biblical truths, affirmations, life-altering Scripture. The Word is the one great replacer of the negative monkeys (words) that race from limb to limb in the mind. It's a tool of greatest importance.
The younger we are, the better it is to develop these positive habits now, for changing our mind-set. It really is hard to teach "old dogs, new tricks." That's not a lie. I may have to work a bit harder to become a glass-half-full-girl, but I long to do better. Someone once told me that as I age, I will either grow better or bitter. I see that is certain. I know which I choose. So...