“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.” A favorite quote among optimists everywhere. It is an amazing ideal that can change lives, create motivation, help with success. I repeat this to myself almost every single day, and yet, there are days I know it is unrealistic.
There are days that are just plain bad. We all have them; there’s no pretending otherwise. There is always the potential to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You might wake up with a headache; you might take your dog outside and slip on the ice; you might hit your head on the kitchen cabinet just trying to make a soothing cup of tea, or maybe even just having so much homework and work and very little time for the things that are necessary, let alone the hobbies you’ve been longing to make time for.
I had one such day this week, and unfortunately, every example listed above happened one morning, but nonetheless, I repeated my quote in my head as I got ready for the day. I wore a cute outfit, took out my fancy eyeshadow pallet that only comes out to make me feel better (every girl knows exactly what I mean), and prepared myself for a good day.
I like to think of my days as series of goals, a to do list, and each time I can check something off, it makes my whole day feel brighter. So when I set out that morning, I had a whole checklist of what I wanted to do, and throughout the course of my day, I did not complete anything.
Keeping me going throughout the day was my excitement to start my first real anthropology project (more to come on that later), but through misunderstandings, it didn’t end up working out.
And even though I ate a healthy breakfast and lunch, I felt angry.
Even though I had laughed earlier, smiled like I usually do, I felt sad.
Even though I repeated the quote in my head a plethora of times throughout the day, telling myself to stay positive, I felt negative.
And so I sat in the parking lot of my study destination, willing myself not to cry, not to succumb to the awful feeling of negativity. And like any almost-19-year-old girl would do, I called my mom, and I cried, the emotions pouring out of me, and I felt helpless and not like myself.
As my mom always does, she talked me through how I was feeling, helping me relieve these emotions I didn’t realize I had been bottling up. At the end of our talk, she said something that helped me remember one of my most favorite pieces of advice I can give, “Tomorrow is another day; it will be better.”
As a positivity enthusiast, I believe that a lot of happiness comes from one’s outlook on life. In the simplest terms, if you say to yourself that the world is terrible, and everyone hates you, the negativity you are seeding in yourself turns the world darker and the people meaner. However, if you say to yourself that the world and people are ultimately good, it is easier to see it that way.
The misconception is that just telling yourself to be positive is not going to make you be positive. There are many factors that go into a healthy and positive mindset, but the one I want to focus on right now is accepting that emotions are real.
Having emotions is healthy! Whoever said feelings should be avoided was clearly not thinking straight.
As I stated previously in another blog post, emotions are human. Accepting them is the only way to overcome them.
When people think of optimists, they are typically perceived as people who do not understand reality and think the world is all unicorns and rainbows all covered in hot fudge with a cherry on top.
I am an optimist, but I have bad days; everyone does. I understand that negative emotions are in my mind, and I know that life is more difficult than it feels like it should be.
Sometimes, you need to allow yourself to feel sad or angry. Sometimes your mascara must smear, your body needs to be under a couple blankets, and your mind needs to decompress. For some, that might mean that you listen to music, or maybe even take a nap, but for me, I must sit and think about what is making me upset, get myself to cry, feel these things that make me negative. It helps me recover.
I need to feel.
As I lie there and think about everything that has led me to the path of sadness I experienced all day, as I think of what is beyond those issues that creates tension and stress for me behind the scenes, things we may not consider actively, I also remember how I want to live my life. After experiencing pain and sorrow for myself, I feel the motivation come to me like a flower suddenly blooming after a snowstorm, and I begin to plan.
I make plans for how I want to change the things that are stressful, and sometimes, there’s not much you can do about them other than finding better ways to cope.
Being an optimist, a positivity enthusiast, is not about denying that negative ideas exist, but more about accepting them as part of who we are, using them to develop a happier and healthier lifestyle. The positive outlook on life is realizing good things happen every day, knowing that good things will happen for you.
Appreciating happiness stems from understanding unhappiness and how it plays a role in our lives.
There will always be bad days, and it is okay to be emotional and let yourself be sad. Just because positivity is important does not mean negativity can be blindsided.
My favorite aspect of positivity, as everyone knows, is the idea of silver linings. The important idea behind silver linings is not to ignore the bad stuff and only focus on what is good, but to find that happiness, the thing you want to focus on achieving, and making it a goal for later.
“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.” This is an amazing quote, but just understand, this means more than no negativity is allowed; it means you cannot fixate on the negativity, but use it as a gateway to positivity.