This article is part of a series of articles to promote Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present. For more information on the book, visit StayPositive365.com. For details on how to win this week’s giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
Accepting what is is a huge part of living a positively present life, but lately I've been struggling a great deal with acceptance. When my little dog Bella was diagnosed with a terminal disease in May, the vet said she would live for a minimum of a month or a maximum (in a very rare case) of two years. She's been hanging in there, and though there have been some ups and downs, she's mostly been doing pretty well. Until recently. She's almost completely stopped eating (everything but treats of course) and is down to 5.5lbs (from her original 8lbs). I've tried everything I can think of to get her to eat (from canned pumpkin to cat food to freshly cooked chicken and almost everything in between), but she's just not interested.
Though I try to remind myself that I'm doing the best I can, I've been struggling to accept the fact that I don't have control over her disease -- or how quickly it seems to be progressing. I'm sad. I know that at some point (hopefully later rather than sooner) she will die. I know I have to accept that fact, but lately it's been hard. I don't want her to be sick. I don't want her to die. And it's hard to know that as much care and love as I'm giving her, there's no undoing her terminal illness.
Since I've been struggling with acceptance lately, I've decided to focus on the ways I can start accepting what is (instead of dwelling on what I wish it could be). I know it's not going to be easy -- this whole situation has been one of the biggest challengers of living a positive and present life -- but I have a feeling that if I at least try to accept what is, I'll be able to enjoy the time I have left with her a little bit more.
4 Ways to Accept What Is (Even When It's Sad)
1. Let the sadness happen. For months, I've been trying to push of my sadness, telling myself, "Don't cry now. Wait until she's gone." or "There's not point in being sad when she's still here." While I know those things are true, I also know that there are benefits to accepting sadness and letting it happen. The other day I got off the phone with the vet and just let myself have a good, long cry. After that, I actually felt better. It's okay to be sad, I've realized. I certainly don't want to dwell on it and spend all my time crying, but I've realized that it's okay to accept the fact that I'm sad -- and to acknowledge that sadness (often in the form of tears) from time to time.
2. Focus on positive coping. There are lots of ways to cope with sadness, but not all of them are positive. I used to do a lot of negative coping -- drinking, drugs, etc. -- but I've realized that those coping mechanisms usually make things worse (even if they seem effective in the short term). Instead of engaging in negative activities to combat my sadness, I'm choosing to focus on positive coping mechanisms, like writing down how I feel or telling someone what I'm experiencing. Instead of shutting down the negative, sad feelings, I'm doing what I can to get them out of my system positively.
3. Embrace the happy moments. Amidst the struggles to get Bella to eat and the deep sadness I feel when I pet her skin-and-bones frame, there are actually a great many happy moments with her on any given day. She still lights up at the sight of a new toy, wagging that flag of a tail and dancing on her hind legs in anticipation. She still gobbles up her morning treat like it's the best thing she's ever been given, sniffing around anxiously afterward to make sure she didn't miss a morsel. She still greets me like I'm a rock start every time I come home. Every day there are happy moments and it's up to me to embrace these moments -- and accept them just as much as I do the sad moments. Sometimes the happy moments can get lost among all the sad ones and I'm determined not to let that happen.
4. Find little distractions. Now I know that distracting myself seems like the opposite of accepting what is (and maybe it is), but I do know that it works. After my big little cry fest the other day, I decided to turn on my favorite movie (Elf) to cheer myself up -- and within minutes I was cracking up with laughter. When I'm super sad, I watch funny movies or TV shows. I let myself have these moments of side-splitting laughter because I know that these distractions, these little breaks from feeling sad, give me a positive boost. And it's this boost of happiness that makes it easier to copy with the sad moments. To know I can still laugh, can still be happy, makes accepting sadness much easier to do.
The truth is, as much as I want to be positive and present, it's not possible all the time. Sometimes I'm going to be negative. Sometimes I'm going to dwell on the past or panic about the future. And that's okay. Be positively present doesn't mean being perfect. It means trying. It means doing the best you can. It means making the most of what is. Acceptance of the tough things in life is never easy, but I'm discovering that there are ways to make it easier. And I'm also realizing that accepting my sadness (instead of trying to push it a way) actually makes those happy moments shine even brighter.
STAY POSITIVE GIVEAWAYS!
To promote the launch of Stay Positive : Daily Reminders from Positively Present, PositivelyPresent.com is offering six weeks of giveaways based on the twelve sections in Stay Positive. Each week, readers will have the chance to win one of two awesome giveways.
HOW TO ENTER
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* Every mention you post / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry.
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* 2 winners (one for each giveaway) will be chosen + notified via email on
Friday, October 26, 2012.