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positively present: the soundtrack

 

positively present music


After writing my post "The Positive Power of Music" the other day, I received some requests for a soundtrack to accompany the post. Since I wasn't quite sure where to begin, I took a look back to an interview I did with The Sassy Minx a few months ago (click the link to read the interview). In the interview, the sassy Miss Lisa asked, "What tunes would be on a PP soundtrack?" I remember receiving this question and being overjoyed. I love soundtracks so the thought of creating my own was amazing. But then I was surprisingly stumped when I realized that the soundtrack for my life wouldn't necessarily be the soundtrack for my blog. After all, up until the beginning of the year, I'd been living under quite a dark cloud of sadness and self pity. A lot of the songs I loved (and still love) wouldn't be fitting for a PP soundtrack. That sassy minx Lisa, by asking her question in the interview, nudged me to open up my iTunes and really think about what a PP soundtrack would be like. I created a blank playlist titled "Happy!" and got to work. I was pretty proud of the happy, positive playlist I came up with for the interview with The Sassy Minx and to it I've added a few tracks. I probably could have gone on and on with all of the songs I love and created a hundred song playlist but I thought twenty-five was a nice number (and fitting too since, after all, I am twenty-five). I really do believe that it's necessary to have both the negative and the positive in life, but, in this playlist I chose to focus on the most uplifting, inspiring, happy songs I could find. I hope you get a chance to check out some of these artists and their amazing songs.

Below you will find the Positively Present soundtrack, a collection of tunes that really speaks to me about being positive and looking for the good in almost any situation. Being positive and doing my best to live in the present moment isn't always easy and these are some of the songs I turn to when I'm feeling like giving up or giving in. In addition to listening the title and artists, I've provided links to their sites so you can learn more about them (or find their songs if you're interested in hearing them). I've also provided some of my favorite lyrics from each song. In some cases, those lyrics are the ones that keep me smiling. In other cases, those lyrics are only snippets of all of the wonderful words in the song. For many of these songs, it was hard for me to pick just a few lines since so many were magical, but I did my best to narrow it down to my favorite words. Words, after all, are my happy sounds. I hope you enjoy!



The Positively Present Soundtrack: 25 Songs For Living Happily Now


1. "Always Love" Nada Surf -- "To make a mountain of your life/Is just a choice/I never learned enough/To listen to the voice that told me/Always love/Hate will get you every time"


2. "Under That Cloud" Adrienne Pierce -- "I used to watch all the dark clouds form/I used to be drawn to that storm/Now I am never going back/Never going back under that cloud"


3. "Steer" Missy Higgins -- "The search ends here/Where the night is totally clear/And your heart is fierce/So now you finally know/You can control where you go/You can steer"


4. "Love Love Love" Tristan Prettyman -- "This life is a beautiful one/And though I’ve seen it comin’ undone/I know most definitely/That it all works out the way it’s meant to be"


5. "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" Jewel -- "Truth is stranger than fiction/This is my chance to get it right/Life is so much better without all of those pretty lies"


6. "Sweet Silver Lining" Kate Voegele -- "I may be weak/But I’m never defeated/And I’ll keep believing/In clouds with that sweet silver lining"


7. "Let Go" Frou Frou -- "Let go, jump in/Whatcha waiting for?/It’s alright ‘cause there’s beauty in the breakdown/So let go, just get in/Oh, it’s so amazing here/It’s alright ‘cause there’s beauty in the breakdown"


8. "Pig" Dave Matthews Band -- "I’m saying open up/And let the rain come pouring in/ Wash out this tired notion that the best is yet to come/While you’re dancing on the ground don’t think of when you’re gone/Love, love -– what more is there?"


9. "Nolita Fairytale" Vanessa Carlton -- "I walk the streets with a song in my head/We ebb and we flow so/Got my toes and my pup at the foot of my bead/The heart always seems to know/Take the glitz back/I want the soul instead/’Cause I’ve found some kinda fairytale"


10. "Pony (It’s OK)" Erin McCarley -- "You deserve a smile with no regret/Oh, look at you, kicking off your shoes/Dancing for the world to see/You got the power to believe/Open up and sing and go be free and fly away"


11. "The Resolution" Jack’s Mannequin -- "There’s a lot that I don’t know/There’s a lot that I’m still learning/But I think I’m letting go/To find my body; it’s still burning"


12. "Silver Lining" Rilo Kiley  -- "And I was your silver lining/As the story goes/I was your silver lining/But now I’m gold/Hooray, hooray, I’m your silver lining/Hooray, hooray, but now I’m gold"


13. "Snow (Hey Oh)" Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "When it’s killing me, what do I really need?/All I need is to look inside/Hey, oh, listen to what I say/Come back and listen to what I say/The more I see, the less I know/The more I like to let it go"


14. "This Is My Now" Jordon Sparks -- "I am made of more than my yesterdays/This is my now and I am breathing in the moment/As I look around/I can’t believe the love I see/My fears behind me/Gone are the shadows and doubt/This is my now"


15. "Least Complicated" Indigo Girls -- "So what makes me think I could start clean-slated?/The hardest to learn was the least complicated/I’m just a mirror of a mirror of myself/All the things that I do/The next time I fall/I’m gonna have to recall/It isn’t love/It’s only something new"


16. "Half-Assed" Ani DiFranco -- "Just show me a moment that is mine/It’s beauty blinding and unsurpassed/Make me forget every moment that went by/That left me so half-hearted/'Cause I felt it so half-assed"


17. "Dashboard" Modest Mouse -- "Well, it could’ve been, should’ve been, worse than you would ever know/Oh, the dashboard melted but we still have the radio/it could’ve been, should’ve been, worse than it had even gone/Well, the car was on block, but I was already where I want"


18. "Fingerprints" Katy Perry -- "Don’t give up/Don’t give in/Build your house on the rock/Not in the sand, in the sand, in the sand/It’s my life and I’m not sitting on the sidelines watching/It pass me by/Gotta make my mark/Gotta run it hard/I want you to remember me"


19. "I Will Be Grateful For This Day..." Bright Eyes -- "So I am writing my own ending/I let my pen bleed black or blue/And I will color in the meaning/It will be gold and green and true/And I'll learn to love my new discovered proof/I'll be grateful for this day/I will be grateful for each day to come"


20. "Whatever It Is" Ben Lee -- "And you're dreaming, and you're dreaming, and you're dreaming/I turn to you and say,'Awake is the new sleep, awake is the new sleep/So wake up. And do it, whatever it is. Just do it, whatever it is'"


21. "What Are You Waiting For?" Gwen Stefani -- "Naturally, I'm worried if I do it alone/Who really cares, causes it's your life/You never know it could be great/Take a chance cause you might grow"


22. "Imperfect Is the New Perfect" Caitlin Crosby -- "I don't wanna look like you because you're too perfect/And i don't wanna fill your shoes because it's not worth it/Don't fit the mold, I am real/too colorful to conceal"


23. "Don't Panic" Coldplay -- "We live in a beautiful world. Oh, all that I know/There's nothing here to run from/And there, everybody here's got somebody to lean on"


24. "Happy" Natasha Bedingfield -- "Got my dreams, got my life, got my love/Got my friends, got the sunshine above/Why am I making this hard on myself/When there's so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy"


25. "A Praise Chorus" Jimmy Eat World -- "Things are never gonna be the way you want/Where's it gonna get you, acting serious?/Things are never gonna be quite what you want/Even at 25, you've gotta start sometime"

Thanks for checking out the Positively Present playlist. If you want to listen to the songs right now, check out Positively Present on Blip. I enjoyed doing this so much that I may post playlists periodically. Thinking about music and lyrics is one of my favorite things to do (if you haven't noticed from the way I use music in almost all of my posts!) so this was a joy of a task for me to take on. As much as I love sharing my music with others, I also love hearing about music too. Old songs, new songs, favorite songs -- I love to hear what other people are listening to. So, I bet you know what my questions of the day are going to be now, don't you?


What songs would be on your soundtrack?
What are some of your all-time favorite songs?


how to love your life's path

Loveyourpath 
 

"Your mind knows only some things.
Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything.
If you listen to what you know instinctively,
it will always lead you down the right path."

Henry Winkler



Do you love the path your life is headed down? Yeah, I know, that's kind of a big question to just throw at you, right? But, if you think about it, we're all on so me sort of path. Some of us are doing what we can to control and guide our paths. Some of us are just riding life out, going with the flow and seeing where it takes us. No matter what way you choose to view or act on your life's path, you do have one. We all do. The question then becomes not whether we have a path, but whether or not we like our path. To be honest, I go back and forth on the issue. One day I feel like my life is going just as it should, that I'm treading nicely along a path that makes me happy and fills my life with positivity. The next day I can be unsure, uncertain about whether or not I'm living the best life I could be living. I'll find myself asking, "Are there things I could change? Are there things I want to change? What would my ideal life path be?" Some days I find myself wondering if I'm on the right path.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this. No matter how content one seems (or claims) to be, I'm pretty most people question the path their heading down at one point or another. It's human nature, I suppose. However, after reading Loving What Is by Byron Katie, I'm coming to the realization that I'm always on the right path, no matter what's happening in my life. Whatever's happening is supposed to happen. Whatever path I'm heading down is the path I'm supposed to be on. Of course it's not always that easy to believe this (especially when things in your life are less than ideal), but, really, what sense does it make not to? Does it make you happier to believe you're on the wrong path? No. Does it bring more stress and anxiety into your life when you fret about if you're traveling down the right road? Yes. To me, it makes a lot more sense to accept your life as it is -- to embrace it and love it -- than it does to question and critique it.

However, that doesn't mean we have to relinquish all control when it comes to our lives. Walking around going "La-dee-la, I have no control so I'm just going to do nothing" is certainly not any way to live a full, happy life. We have control over our lives, but we also need to take to heart the idea that our lives are moving along just as they should. As I said, this isn't always easy to do, especially if you love to have control like I do. As much as I absolutely loved reading Katie's work, it was hard for me at times to say, "Yeah, my life is going along just as it should. It always has and it always will." Part of me wants to revolt against that idea and say, "Hey! My life has been really shitty before and I have to make sure it doesn't ever get that way again!" It's pretty hard for me not to want to believe that I have control over every single aspect of my life. I have the ability to make choices, yes, but I have to remember that every choice -- no matter what it feels like -- is the right choice for my life's path.

For someone who easily jumps to a critical conclusion, it's not all that easy for me to accept that, no matter what I do, I'm doing the right thing. How can I really know that? How can I know that I'm not, right now, making some horrible mistake? I guess, when it comes down to it, there's no way to know. I have to just sit back, do what I do, and accept that my life is unfolding as it should. And, as I learned from Katie, there's no way that it could be unfolding any other way. What is happening is what's supposed to happen. If it weren't supposed to happen, it wouldn't be happening. Does that make sense? Yeah, it's hard for me to grasp sometimes, but, deep down, I believe there's a truth in that. Does knowing this truth make it easier for me to love and accept the path I'm on in life? Yes and no. Part of me really does realize that everything is happening as it should and I have to keep going on doing what I believe I should be doing. The other part of me rebels and demands that I seize control, make changes, and move my life down a path that is ideal for me (but, then, what really is ideal? how do I know it would be ideal?). I struggle with this all the time as I'm sure many of you do as well. I want to control my life, live the best life I can, but I also want to believe that I'm living my life just fine and that nothing is happening that shouldn't be happening.

So how do I balance it all out? How do I make choices in my life while ultimately committing myself to loving my life's path? I can't say that I've perfected the art of this by any means, but I do have a few suggestions that I work with (and that might help you out too if you're working to accept the path you're on in life). I'm going to share them with you here with the hope that I can continue down my path with love and acceptance and that you too can appreciate the road down which you are traveling. Life is a tricky thing to figure out. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there a purpose? Are we each living our purpose properly? I don't have all (or any!) of the answers, but I do know that, no matter who you are or what you think the purpose of life is, you can't help but benefit from loving the path you're on in your life. Live it now. Love it now. Here's my advice on how...

 

How To Love Your Life's Path


  • Accept and love yourself first. No matter what you are working toward in life or what you think your purpose is, the best way to fulfill your dreams and reach your goals is to love yourself. You have to love who you are first if you want to love the path you're on. According to one Buddhist saying, "You cannot travel the path until you become the path itself." If you want to love the path you're on, you have to love yourself. You, your very being, is the driving force behind your life's purpose. If you can't love yourself, how in the world can you love your path? It's impossible. Do whatever you must do to love yourself, respect yourself, and accept yourself. This is the first step to making peace with your life and loving the path you're on.

 

  • Let go of your (good or bad) past. When your mind is wandering constantly back to the past, you are not really moving forward or embracing the present moment. You are stuck in one spot, looking backwards. Remind yourself that the past -- whether it was good or bad -- is over. You cannot go back there and you will never again be the person you were in the past. You are you now, and the person you are now is the person you must focus on in order to really understand and love your life as it is right now. I often find myself caught up in scenes from the past, reliving them in my head. This does no good. It wastes time and energy that could be spent focusing on the path I'm heading down. Learn from your past, love your past (if you can), but let it go. You may need the lessons, but you don't need the baggage. Drop right now on the path and keep on moving.

 

  • Believe in the beauty of life. Life is strange, isn't it? It's so hard to explain what it is, what the point of it is, but there are some really amazing things in it, aren't there? What if your purpose was just to enjoy life, to take it all in, to live every moment as if it were your last? What if you were put on this earth only to enjoy and love everything (good and bad) about the world? Life is odd but it's also beautiful. Even pain, sadness, and desperation are beautiful in their own ways. When I take a step back and look at life as a beautiful, amazing thing, it puts my small life in perspective. It reminds me that whatever my purpose is is part of a collective purpose, a universal state of living that we are all experiencing. Thinking about it this way makes my purpose -- whatever that might be -- seem more grand and, in an odd way, more worthwhile.

 

  • Stop worrying about the future. We don't know if the future will ever come, so what are you getting so worried about? Okay, I know it's not that simple. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, commitments to make. The future is there. We know it's probably coming. But the more you worry and stress about it, the less likely you are to be enjoying the present moment (the only thing that's truly guaranteed). If you're not living in the present, you're not really loving the path you're on. You're looking for something better or different in the future and, really, there's no sense in that. Stay in the now as much as you can. Deal with what you must related to the future, but don't look to it as a place where you will someday be happier or wealthier or better. You are, just as you are right now, perfectly you and that's just what you need to be.

 

  • Love what your life is right now. Easier said than done? Sure, but it's totally worth it to give this one a shot. Can you say that you honestly, 100% love your life as it is right now? Really? Most of us would probably say no, we can't really say that. But why not? Why can't you love everything as it is right now? What's stopping you from accepting that the life you are living right now is your perfect, ideal life and there is nothing better for you out there other than what you are experiencing right now? When I think that my life is unfolding just as it should, that nothing is a mistake, and that everything is happening for a reason, I find that I'm much more at peace with myself and the world. If I love my life as it is now, I don't have to revisit the past and I don't have to wait hopefully for the future. I can be here, now, happy. Of course I don't do this all of the time (I wish I could!) but when I find myself really loving the way my life is, not wanting to change a thing about it, I am at my happiest. And who's to say I can't think that way all the time?

 

As I mentioned earlier in the post, life is odd. What our purpose is isn't always clear. Sometimes we might feel like we're on the wrong path or we may even feel like we're not on a path at all. It's important to remember that we're all on some sort of path and that we're each following our paths exactly as we should be. Whatever you're doing, you're doing what's right for you. Believe that your life is unfolding as it should. Love the path you're traveling down. Accept life as it is. Trust me, if you love your life's path, you will be happier. And who doesn't want to be happier?


the positive power of music


positive power of music 

"Without music, life would be a mistake."

Friedrich Nietzsche



I love music and, for that reason, I couldn't agree with Nietzsche's quote more. (I was thrilled, in fact, when I stumbled across it!) If my life was void of music, I don't think it would a life worth living. Dramatic? Yes. Untrue? No. I really do believe that music has a profound effect on my existence. Music transforms my mood, my personality, my life in many ways. For me, what drives my love of music, what really moves me most, are the lyrics. Just hearing one great line can transform my entire day. The first time I hear a song that moves me it's like falling in love. And falling hard.

I cannot get enough of music and lyrics, the way they ebb and flow to create sounds that stay with me for days and days. I'm one of those people who plays a song I love over and over (and over and over) again. I was the type of kid that the would press record on my tape player (ahh, that sounds so old!) with the radio going all day while I was at school with the hope of catching my favorite song so I'd have it on tape. (I'm sure my parents, who worked from home, loved this.) I was the type of kid that would buy CD after CD at $20 a pop for one, single, amazing song (thank god for iTunes!). I don't know when my love for music really began. Perhaps there was never a beginning point; perhaps it was always there. All I know for sure is that without music my life would not be remotely what it is today.

I do the best I can to listen to music whenever I can. I try to listen to CDs or Pandora at work. The second I get in the car, I turn on the radio or my iPod. When I'm in a store, I'm aware of the music they are playing. (Sometimes I even walk around with headphones on, but that's only when I'm really feeling a new song and just can't bear to leave it in the car while I shop.) When I'm watching a film, a good soundtrack can take over (watch Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist if you don't know what I'm talking about). A good soundtrack can make the movie, the actors and the scenes, seem like an afterthought. Music grabs me. It sucks me in. It moves me in ways that nothing else really can.

Not everyone is that into music, I know. For some it's just background noise or something to dance to at a club. It's not that they don't like it; it's just that they don't really think much about it. And that's cool. That's just not me. For those who aren't super music-focused, you might not quite understand why I'm dedicating an entire post to music. It might seem strange or excessive. However, I'm going to take some time to explain what music is to me and maybe you'll be able to relate it to something in your life, something that has such a profoundly positive effect on your life that you can hardly put it accurately into words.

Music is so many things to me. A list of what music means to me would be endless, because, in odd ways, music effects almost everything in my life. To save us all a little time, I've chosen to highlight a few of the reasons music has had such a powerfully positive effect on my life. For me, music is many things, but here are a few of my favorites:

 

Music is... a best friend.

No matter what I'm going through, there is always a song to match my mood. Like a good friend, there is a song that speaks to me when I'm feeling up or down. Like a good friend, there is always a song to cheer me up or sulk with me in my (now much rarer) times of misery. Music, just like a friend, moves me and does what it can to relate to what I'm going through. While music can certainly never take the place of a real friend (no hugs, no situation-specific words of wisdom...), it's a pretty good substitute when times are tough. It's a great feeling to be able to turn on a song and find comfort in familiar words or to gain a fresh perspective from new tunes. Odd as it might sound, music is definitely a friend of mine. 

 

Music is... a motivator.

When I just don't feel like doing something -- going to that party or talking my dog for a walk -- music pushes me along. The right songs can push me in new directions and remind me that I can do it, no matter what my sluggish brain is telling. Music -- the right kind of music -- can be deeply inspiring and can offer me words of encouragement when I feel like giving up (or not even trying). When I'm feeling listless and unmotivated, turning to an upbeat tune on my iPod can work miracles. Suddenly I'm energized, revived, ready to take on whatever challenge might come my way. Music can get inside of me and pump me up. It can get me excited about even the most mundane situations, motivating me to realize that there is always something to look forward to. 

 

Music is... a stress reliever.

The first thing I do when I get in my car, day or night, is put on music. When I forget my iPod, it's the radio I switch on. When I can't find a good song on the radio, I pop on a favorite CD. I would have a very, very hard time driving without music, especially after a long day at work. After work, I actually appreciate the time I spend in the car on the way home, just jammin' out to some tunes. It's a great way to for me to relax and unwind. When I feel stressed, I can just close the door to my bedroom, put on some relaxing music, and just wait for the stress of the day to fade away. At times, music is even so relaxing that I use it to help me get to sleep during particularly anxious times in my life. Music, the calm kind, soothes me and puts me at ease, in a place outside of my cares and concerns.


Music is... a gift.

I'm the type of person that spends hours and hours carefully crafting CDs for my friends and family members, taking joy in writing down all of the titles and artists when the final product comes together. As much as I love listening to music, I love sharing it even more. There is nothing like hearing a great song and thinking, "Hey! I know someone who will love this song!" Likewise, there's nothing quite like when a friend says to me, "Hey, you've gotta hear this. You'll love it!" and turns up the stereo. Sharing music is one of my favorite things to do. It's a great way for me to bond with other people and to find out about new songs that I might not have otherwise discovered. As an ex of mine knows well, the way to my heart isn't flowers or candy -- it's a thoughtfully made CD.


Music is... a party starter.

One of the best ways to get any party started is to play some great music.No matter what kind of party you're having -- a low-key night with friends, a college-style rager -- you need good music. There is something about putting on music that changes the dynamic of almost any situation. It livens things up and encourages people to start moving. As someone who loves to dance (even though I'm not all that good at it!), I firmly believe that a party hasn't really started until there's some sort of music working its way through the crowd. People like music. It spices things up. It makes life -- and parties in particular -- that much more fun!

  

Music is... a teacher.

Everything I've learned in life, I've learned from music. Okay, that's not entirely true, but, honestly, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I've learned from music. Before I knew what love was, music taught me about it. Music taught me about pain, heartache, joy, and happiness. Lately, music has taught me to be positive, to embrace happiness, and to see the good in life. Music has inspired new ideas in me and made me think about life from new perspectives. Just like when I read a profound book, certain songs have the ability to teach me new things, to think about the world and other people in new ways. This, for me, is one of the most amazing things about music and the thing I am most grateful for. Without music, I know I wouldn't know all that I do today.

 

As I was writing this post, I came across some great articles about how music affects our minds. If you're interested in the topic, I'd definitely suggest checking these out to learn more:

How Music Improves Health

How Music Affects Us

Physical and Mental Benefits of Music

Effects of Music on the Mind

Music Matters Blog

Music on the Mind

And if you're interested in seeing what music I like to listen to, you can check out Positively Present on Blip (like Twitter, but for music!) or check out my Smile-Worthy Songs list on my site (click on the link here or on the link in the column on the right). If you're interested in a soundtrack that I created for Positively Present, you can check out the interview I did with The Sassy Minx awhile back. As you can tell, the topic of music and how it impacts our lives has always been fascinating to me. Music is so integrated into life, especially into media, and most of us (myself included) don't even realize how much music has the ability to impact what we think and do. I know how music impacts me personally, but I'd love to learn more about how music impacts YOU.

What does music mean to you? Can't live without it? Take it or leave it?
Have you noticed music's impact in your own life? If so, what has the impact been?

  

Photo Credit: Something Monumental


happiness doesn't just happen

 

Happiness doesnt just happen 

The other day, as I was enjoying one of my summer moments by the pool, I cracked open the latest issue of Psychologies magazine to read an interview with Robin Wright Penn (oddly enough I'd just watched The Princess Bride on TV which was her first starring role!). I was overjoyed when I turned to the page where the interview was and read the title "Happiness Doesn't Just Happen." Wow. That sounds like something that could be the story of my life in four words! Happiness doesn't just happen -- at least not for most people. Happiness is something you have to work at, work towards, and keep working on. For some people, happiness comes with ease. For others, like me and Wright, it's not as simple as that. In this post I'm going to highlight some of the comments Wright made in the interview (centered, in italics) and add my thoughts on them (feel free to add yours in the comments!).



Happiness Is a Choice

"The most important thing I've learned
is that happiness doesn't just happen. It's a choice...
We have to decide to make that choice every day."

 

Happiness, as I've written many times before, is a choice. Not only is it a choice that we have to make in general, but it's also a choice that we have to make every day. I think it's in Alcoholics Anonymous that they say, "one day at a time." I feel like this when it comes to happiness. When I think about being happy forever, or how my current happy state probably won't last, I feel overwhelmed and a bit panicky. The thought of being happy -- even in a general way -- for a long period of time feels overwhelming. I feel like I won't be able to do it, like I'm going to go back to my old, miserable, negative ways at any moment. But when I think about it as a choice that I can make today, right now, I feel better about it. I don't think about happiness long term. I think about it now. I think to myself, "Am I making the choice to be happy right now?" I'm not always making that choice (who is!?) but I try to do it more often than not. I try to live in the moment and embrace the happiness in whatever situation I am in. I take positivity one day at a time. I realize that I can choose to be happy, no matter what's happening. This doesn't mean I'm always happy, but it does mean that I always have the choice to be happy. For some, happiness and positivity come easily without much thought. For me, it must be a choice and it's so wonderful to know that every day I can choose to be happy.

 

Negativity Can Become a Habit

"I think negativity becomes kind of a habit.
It's easy to fall into it and, like all habits, there's something familiar about it.
I know it sounds ridiculous -- how can we be comfortable
with sadness or negativity? But we can."

 

I, for one, am all too familiar with the idea that negativity can become a habit. When I read Wright's statement above, I thought to myself, "Wow! That was me! I was in the habit of being negative!" As Wright says, it seems ridiculous that anyone would be comfortable with sadness or negativity, but I was. I bet there are many people that become comfortable with unhappiness. When we do something over and over again it becomes a habit, something we take comfort in (even if it's not good for us). Unhappiness and negativity can be like this. We get used to it and we keep doing it and, in some cases, it is reinforced. People know we're unhappy so they bring us their unhappiness, hoping to bond over the misery. We feed off of each others negativity, making it worse. It's sad that it has to be that way but for many people unhappiness becomes habitual. But we can break the habit. We can choose happiness and break away from the idea that we must focus on the negative. If I can do it, anyone can do it!



Being Happy is Being Generous

"Some kinds of unhappiness are very self-absorbed.
There's something narcissistic about it.
It's all about you, all about your pain.
It's so uplifting and generous when you
make the choice to give, to love, to be happy."

 

Never before have I thought about happiness as a way to be generous, but Wright is really on to something with this one. When you're negative or unhappy, you're sucking the life from other people. Your presence is draining, tiring. I know when I spend a lot of time with negative people, I feel unhappy afterward. I don't want them to be unhappy and I feel bad for them. I also don't want to spend all of my time talking about the negative things in their lives. Of course, everyone has bad days or bad situations and there's nothing wrong with sharing those with others. However, there's a difference between sharing a specific situation and always being unhappy. You know what I'm talking about. You know who those people are, the ones who are always complaining, always unhappy. It's hard to spend time with them because they are taking something from you when you are with them. To be happy is to give of yourself, your joy, to the world. Think about this when you're interacting with others. Are you giving or taking? Are you absorbed completely in your problems or is there a mutual dialog in your relationship? When you start thinking about happiness as a gift (and a free one at that!), you'll want to start giving it to those around you.

 

When I picked up the latest Psychologies magazine I knew I would find some great insights (I always do!), but I had no idea how much Wright's interview would speak to me. I was so impressed with the words she shared in her interview. She made me realize that happiness is a choice, negativity is a habit that can be broken, and unhappiness is very self-absorbed (in most cases). I really enjoyed reading her interview and learning from her and I hope you did too! Feel free to let me know what you think of these snippets from Wright's interview in the comments section below.


don't let the bad ruin the good

 

focus on the good 
 
"You can't let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones."

Dale Earnhardt

 

When bad things happen, it's easy to forget the good things, isn't it? For me, sometimes I feel like I focus on whatever that one bad thing is and forget to put everything in perspective. For example, lately I've had a bad online experience. For the first time since I've started my blog, I've been contacted in ways that are unpleasant. Immediately I've panicked, thinking to myself, "Maybe I should stop writing. Maybe I should just get rid of the blog." My heart pounding with the thought of bad things happening, thoughts of getting rid of the blogs, closing down my Twitter account, and canceling my email address raced through my mind. Maybe the blog wasn't worth it. Maybe the feeling of fear was stronger than the benefits of blogging.

And then I realized: I was focusing on one bad thing and ignoring all the good things. What about all of the emails people have sent me telling me how much they love my blog? What about all of the great comments and feedback via Twitter? What about all of the people who have told me that reading my blog really helps them? All of those things fell into the background when I focused on the one negative thing that's happened to me since I started blogging. I was letting the negative take over and I wasn't focusing on the positive, which, seriously, is so silly because isn't that the point of the blog? Perhaps I need Positively Present more than anyone!

As I'm sure you know well, it's easy to think about the one bad thing when it happens to you. It takes over, pushing the other, positive things to the back burner. And that is not a good thing. After all, because of one bad thing I almost decided to stop blogging, one of my favorite things in the world to do. (This also speaks to the idea of letting the actions of others influence you, a topic I'll save for another day...) To give up on something I love because of a single bad experience would be wrong, right? I think so! But how often do we think to do that? For me, it's more often than it should be. One bad thing happens and I'm tempted to give up. But not this time. I'm not going to give up on all of the good things because of one bad thing.

Though you might not be able to relate to this situation personally, I'm sure there are other things in life in which one bad thing has made you think about only that, ignoring all of the good things. For example, a fight with a loved one can really do this for me. I have a wonderful time with that person, really love and care about that person, but when we have a fight all I can think about is what happened, what was said, what is bad. Of course, when I think about that logically, I realize how ridiculous that is. I'm focusing on the negative rather than the positive. Yes, sometimes negative conversations have to be had and things that aren't super positive have to be dealt with, but that shouldn't dominate the interactions with someone (and, if it does, something should be done about that relationship!). One bad thing doesn't need to stick out of all of the good things.

What we choose to focus on is all up to us. We can focus on the negative (as I have been lately when it comes to the blog) or we can focus on the positive. It's all up to us. So what's my advice for turning the focus from the one negative to all the positive? I've had some personal experience with this lately because not only have I been thinking about the negative but I've had it reinforced by those around me who have, in so many words, made it clear that they think the internet is a dangerous place that would be better left alone. Lately I've had a lot of thinking to do and it's taken a lot to convince me that what I'm doing on this site is worth more than one bad experience. Here are my tips for making sure the one bad thing doesn't ruin the many good things.

 

3 Steps To Stop the Bad From Ruining the Good


Step 1: Don't forget about the good.
When the bad seems overwhelming and it's taking over your thoughts, it's not always easy to remember what is good about a situation. Take a moment to think about what the good things are. What do you love about the person you're fighting with? What makes you happy about the situation you're in? How many times have you found joy in doing what is causing your current unhappiness? For me, in my situation, I thought about all of the wonderful, supportive emails I've received from readers. I thought about all of the great comments I've received on my blog, reinforcing the idea that this is a good thing, that I'm bringing good into the world. I thought about all of the ways my family members and friends have supported my blog. When I thought about these things, the one bad thing seemed a lot less important. It was upsetting still, yes, but not nearly enough to counteract all of the positive emotions.


Step 2: Remember who you are.
No matter what the situation or what happens, that thing or action or thought or arrangement of words is not you. You are you. Whatever the bad thing may be, no matter how it feels, it doesn't have to take away from the person you are. Bad things happen to everyone, but it's our reactions to them that can really bring us down, that can totally transform our world. For example, in my case, I nearly let one bad thing stop me from doing what I love -- writing on this blog. This blog is an extension of who I am. That bad thing is not. It is not about me. It is completely about someone else and I have to remember that who I am, what I do, is what's important. What others do is their business. I had to remind myself of who I was in order to realize that doing what I love is what I should be doing. I am who I am and what others do cannot and will not change that.


Step 3: Look for the lessons in the bad.
This, for me, is the most important step. When something bad happens it's so easy to want to give up, to throw in the towel, and say, "This is just too much work!" But don't do that. Realize first all of the good things in the situation and then see what you can learn from the bad things. There is always a lesson and if we don't look for it we're missing out. No matter what the situation -- an argument, a negative thought, a terrible event -- we can gain knowledge from that and move forward with that knowledge in hand. Finding the lesson in the bad makes it seem less pointless. I've learned from the bad things and it's helping me make the good things even better. This entire post is an explanation of what I've learned from my situation. The one bad thing has led me to learn more about myself and how I plan to deal with bad things in the future.

 


Bad things happen all the time. Whether you have a dream job, a perfect relationship, or a fulfilling blog, something bad is going to happen to it at one time or another. You'll mess up a big project, you'll get into a fight with your spouse, you'll have to deal with people who make you unhappy. It happens. That doesn't mean that the situation is any less wonderful. One bad thing doesn't have to take away from all of the good things. One bad thing doesn't have to be the focus. Remember, you have the power to choose what you focus on. You can choose to let that one negative thing take over, or, like I'm doing, you can center your thoughts on the positive and look for all of the good in the situation. This specific situation for me has taught me a lot, but the most important thing I've learned is that, no matter what, I'm not giving up on what I love. And you shouldn't either. Don't let the one bad ruin all of the good.

Do you ever let one bad thing become the focus? How do you stop doing that?
Fellow bloggers, has any one thing ever made you want to give up and stop writing?