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March 2011
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april showers + may flowers: positive thinking in tough times

Back in the day -- long before I even knew about the concept of positivity -- I learned the phrase: "April showers bring May flowers." I always thought of it as a silly thing my mom would say, one of the sayings she'd plucked from her Irish background and sprinkled almost daily in my life. For a long time I ignored this cheery saying, thinking it was just a way to excuse the mood-altering rain that always seemed to find its way into my life during the fourth month of the year. But, the more I think about, the more I realize how important this saying is -- and how further it goes past storm clouds and budding blossoms.

When you're going through a tough time, usually the last thing you want to think about is the good time to come. When faced with unhappiness or negative emotions, it can be hard to see through the rain clouds to a time when sunshine will once again brighten your life. However, looking past those clouds to a brighter, better day is exactly what you need to do when times are tough. I used to be irritated by the notion that, when things are tough, they'll someday get better, but having been through some really tough storms and arriving in a place of sunshine, I know all too well how important focusing on the positive can be.

Below are some of the reasons why it really does benefit you to celebrate the showers (and storms) in your life. Hard as it might seem at the time, focusing on what's good -- whether it's appreciating what you still have right in front of you or acknowledging the cliched-but-true notion that things will get better -- will transform whatever you're going through into something that you -- yes, you! -- can actually handle.


Why You Should Embrace the April Showers of Your Life

1. You teach yourself to be positive, no matter what. When you find yourself staying positive through a difficult time, you'll feel amazing. Getting to the point in your life -- or in the way you think about your life -- where you can take a negative situation and see the good in it is one of the best feelings. Embracing the difficult times in your life will, without you even realizing it, teach you to be positive no matter what comes along. 

2. You grow stronger with every single storm you weather. With every single difficulty you face in your life, you become a little bit stronger. It's hard to realize this when you're actually going through a tough time, but no matter what the outcome, you gain strength from every hardship. And that's a great reason to embrace the struggles you face in your life. Every single one of them is making you stronger. 

3. You need the tough times to bring out the best in your life. I'm sure you've heard it before: "Without the rain, there can be no rainbow." Cliche? Yes. True? Yes! Without the really tough times in your life, it can be hard to appreciate all of the awesome things. It would be great if we could just have awesomeness at all times, but the tough times really do help us to see (and be grateful for) what we have in our lives. 

4. You will uncover new things about yourself -- and your life. Another cliche, but true, face is that when you're struggling to make it through a tough time, you'll learn a lot about yourself and your life. When in the midst of a difficult situation, this fact can be hard to wrap your mind around -- but it's one of the greatest things about a tough time. Whether you realize it initially (or years later), you always learn something when you struggle to get through a difficulty. 

5. You can be refreshed and revitalized by a spring rain. Just like the flowers begin to bloom after April showers, you too can be refreshed and begin to blossom after a tough time. It might not happen right away, but with time, you will see that any difficulty you've struggled to overcome has left you feeling oddly renewed. Though you may feel beaten down at first (as I'm sure those flowers' stems do when the rains come), you'll eventually begin to show your true colors, blossoming into a new self after the storm has passed. 


There are many reasons to doubt the power of an April shower. As someone who seriously dislikes the rain (literally and figuratively), I know how hard it can be to see the benefit behind a downpour -- or even the benefit of a seemingly ageless phrase. But the benefits are there. I've seen them, having found myself nearly drowning in a downpour a time or two and miraculously finding myself stronger, smarter, and more grateful after the storms eventually passed. Difficult as it might seem, you too can find the benefits in whatever storm you're facing. The next time you find yourself faced with a storm in your life, come back to this post and remind yourself that many good things can come from a little rain. The April showers in life might be tough to weather, but waiting on the other side of a rain-soaked time is a serious dose of sunshine -- and a better, stronger you.

How do you weather the April showers in your life? 
Have you experienced any of these benefits from weathering
difficult situations in your own life?  

revisiting your muchness: 5 steps to reclaim who you were


Muchness ()

Last March after seeing Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I wrote an article called "How To Reclaim Your Muchness." For those of you who haven't read my article, I'd recommend it; it's one of my favorites. It focuses on a brief interaction between Alice and the Mad Hatter that went something like this: 


The Mad Hatter: You're not the same as you were before. You were much more... "muchier." You've lost your "muchness." 

Alice: My "muchness?" 

The Mad Hatter: [Points to Alice's heart] In there. 


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, muchness means "the quality or state of being in great quantity, extent, or degree." In relation to the Alice/Mad Hatter interaction, the word muchness refers to something within Alice -- her heart, her spirit -- that she had somehow lost since the first time she had visited Wonderland. When you really think about it, in many ways we have all lost a part of our muchness. There is an essence to each of us that gets slowly chipped away at as we get older and see more and more of the world. Instead of growing happier and more excited by the things we see, we are often depleted and hardened by the world as we age -- which is exactly why it's so important for us to pay attention to our muchness, revisit it frequently, and, if needed, revise our muchness. You might be wondering:


What in the world does it mean to revisit my muchness? 


Well, today I'm going show you exactly what it means -- and I'm going to show you how to take action when it comes to your own muchness. First, let's remind ourselves why this is so important: If we want to live our most positive, present lives, we have to know what makes our lives positive. Of course, there are some basics we all want/need -- food, shelter, love -- but, beyond that, do we really know what we want from life? How often do you stop and really think about that? 

If you're like me, probably not as often as you should. If you're like me, you probably have a few vague ideas floating around your head -- things you would classify as your life goals or dreams -- but you haven't taken the time to really squint in concentration, looking around your world, and think about what is that you really, truly, deep-down-in-your-heart want for your life. In not doing this, you are ignoring your muchness and, as a result, you're probably not living the best possible life for you. Here are the steps I'm going to try to revisit and revise my muchness so I am living my best possible life: 

How To Revisit Your Muchness

1. Reclaim your muchness. It is inside of you -- always there -- but often we lose sight of it. Get it back, as Alice did in the film, by reclaiming it. Start by answering the six questions in "How to Reclaim Your Muchness." The first place to begin the revision process is to take a look at what you originally believed your muchness to be. Below are the six questions: 

  • What did I like to do when I was younger? 
  • Why did stop doing (or continue to do) those things? 
  • Who did I think I would be when I grew up? 
  • How am I like that fictional version of myself? 
  • What attitudes and beliefs did I hold as a kid? 
  • How have my attitudes and beliefs changed? 


2. Take a time out. Once you have answered the questions to help you reclaim your muchness, leave them for awhile. Put some space between them and yourself, and come back to them with a clear mind. A fresh perspective will help you when it comes to revisiting your muchness and will make your revision process much more effective. 


3. Revisit what matters most to you. With a fresh perspective, take a look at your answers to the six questions about your muchness. Do you feel the same about them as you did when you wrote them? Do you have anything you want to add or edit? Try looking at the questions from a different angle and thinking about how they relate to the life you're living now. 


4. Create a muchness plan. Once you've taken a step back and reviewed your responses, it's time to take a look at how your muchness is incorporated into your life now. What do you do now that you loved to do as a kid? What don't you do that you wish you did? Now, create a plan for how you're going to implement your muchness in your life today. 


5. Take action as soon as you can. Once you have an action plan -- or, at the very least, a list of how you can incorporate your muchness into your life -- you have to actually take action. Don't wait until someday, or even tomorrow. Start today. Now is the time to reclaim who you once were so don't waste another minute. 


Muchness may be an abstract concept, but it can have a concrete impact on our lives if we really put time and thought into it. Knowing you you were and coupling that with who you are can lead you to living a more positive, more enjoyable life. So often we get lost in the now and forget that there are parts of ourselves -- of our hearts, our spirits -- that may have been dropped along the way. That's not to say that our past holds any magical solution for living positively in the present, but it is an avenue to travel down periodically and take a closer look at. After all, the people we were made us into the people we are now.