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Be Optimistic Even In The Face of Grim News

There are those who see the glass half full and others who see the glass half empty. At FirstLight Home Care, we always see the glass half full with hope.

Did you recently receive a cancer diagnosis? Have a chronic debilitating illness? March is National Optimism Month, and as hard as it is, you have to try and maintain a positive attitude. You have to take all your negative thoughts and stuff them under your mattress where you can’t see or reach them.

My Mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus when she was 20-years-old and had a colostomy when she was 40. She lived until she was 80, even though her hands were crippled and she was in a wheelchair. We gave her last rights three times, but she always bounced back. Yet every day, she made me laugh and always had something nice to say. No doctor’s diagnosis could get her down despite some of the grim prognosis’s she received. I asked her tell me  from where she drew her positive strength.

She would quote Mark Twain and say: “If you want to cheer yourself up, try to cheer someone else up.” This was the philosophy she lived her life by, and her attitude was both contagious and infectious!

There are obvious health benefits to maintaining a upbeat attitude. Optimistic people have fewer heart attacks, less stress and healthier hearts than their pessimistic peers. Plus, a recent study at  Mayo Clinic found that pessimism can lead to premature death, even when other factors such as age are discarded.

So it’s time to put your baggage aside, leave your comfort zone, and find your silver linings. Here are some tips to get you jumpstarted!

  1. Read a good book. Down in the dumps? Pick up a copy of David Mezzapelle’s  “Contagious Optimism” which will inspire you with his stories of amazing life turnarounds. Amazon describes it as a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” meets “Pay It Forward” on steroids!
  2. Keep a grateful journal. Sound corny? It works. Every morning when you get up, write down one thing you are grateful for. Make a list of things that make your s mile. Know that life will throw you some curves, but collectively, the good and the bad is what makes you who you are.
  3. Cast aside your negative emotions.  We all experience negative emotions – jealousy, hatred, sadness, depression and envy to name a few. You only have so much energy in a day. Do you want to spend it on thoughts that sap your energy or thoughts that energize you? Frowning all the time takes more muscles than smiling, plus smiling allows you to release serotonin. Princeton University says serotonin is also known as a happiness hormone because it contributes to feelings of well-being,  Do you really want to give negativity that much real estate in your head?
  4. Keep your criticisms and blame to yourself.  Have something bad to say? Keep it to yourself! Trying to blame all the ills in your life on someone else? Remember, that we each control our own destiny.
  5. Get off the couch. It’s so easy NOT to exercise. With Spring around the corner, and you can no longer use bad weather as an excuse, it’s time to get those winter creaks out of your limbs. We all can’t be a marathon runner, but we all can exercise to a certain degree. Even if you walk short distances or take the stairs instead of the elevator, it gets your aerobic juices flowing.
  6. Relax. As a workaholic, I find it hard to unwind. Drink a glass of wine (cheers!), go watch a movie or do something mindless. You need to have balance in your life.
  7. Choose happy. Every morning when you wake up, you can choose to be happy or grumpy. Yes, it’s a choice. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Shake it off or your day will be miserable.

My Mom used to say “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” to which I would reply “but he is testing my upper limits!” Realistically I know you can’t be happy all the time. Each of us will have some bad days. It’s how we deal with the bumps along the way and move forward that counts.

Even though my Mom has passed away, I keep her driver’s license perched on my computer. It reminds me every day to think about the best possible outcomes versus the worse!

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