Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seriously, what is with the attitude?

I've been getting a lot of positive feedback from my fellow Spark Buddies about my attitude, so I thought I would take a moment to blog about it. 

First, what I'm not. I'm not walking around everyday like a medicated mannequin. I'm not Pollyanna, deluded into thinking that life is all kittens and rainbows. And I'm not immune to the frustrations, obstacles and problems of life. 

Like everyone else, I am subject to the stresses and strains of everyday living. I am struggling to keep a business open, employees working, and income coming in to my own checking account. I worry about paying my bills, keeping my home, and taking care of my family's day-to-day needs. And I am a bundle of nerves everytime I try to lock down my future employment plans. In other words, I have issues. 

But as much as those things can keep me awake at night, I make a conscious choice that they will not control my life. I don't bury my head like an ostrich and ignore them, but I don't let them consume me, either. I take the time to evaluate what is happening, identify any actions I can take to influence outcomes, and then do what I can do. 

Beyond that, though, I do not waste time worrying about things outside of my control. I ask myself, "is there anything I can do to control what is happening?" If there is, I do it. If not, my worrying only increases my stress levels. It saps my energy and tears at everything I am. I am short with family and friends, unpleasant at work, and generally not fun to be around. And who the heck wants to be that guy? 

So who am I and how do I keep a positive attitude? I'm an optimist. I believe that when all is said and done, life is truly a joy and a blessing. And everyday I am reminded of that. I am loved beyond anything I ever dreamed I could be. I have friends that would move time and tide to help me if I had need for it. And I am fortunate enough to have days filled with reasons to laugh and live and share and feel and experience. As trite as it sounds, life is good and I never want to forget that. 

And when I falter? Yes I have days that overwhelm me. There are times when my own fears and weaknesses obscure the good, when I can only see the problems. How do I get through those times? One choice, one decision, one moment at a time. I find one thing, one good and positive thing, and I cling to it like a life raft to carry me through. 

How does that play out here at Spark People? Simple. When I am feeling discouraged about my weight, or I am tired of a scale that won't move, or I feel frustrated with my body or my food or my workouts, I log in to Spark People and go right to the "Panic! Button" message forum. No, I don't post a request for help, though I certainly may someday. Instead, I start reading what others have posted. I look for opportunities to reach out to people who need a boost. I'm no expert (I'm talking about you, amazing Coach Nancy!), so I don't offer advice beyond my comfort level. But I can offer support and encouragement. I can remind them that success is inevitable if they stick with the basics, they deserve to be happy in their journeys, and they are surrounded by Spark Buddies who want them to be successful. 

And the most important part for me is that the more I encourage others, the more I feel encouraged myself. It's impossible to stand up and cheer for someone else and still feel down. (Ever see a gloomy cheerleader? Not likely). As simple and naive as it sounds, the truth is that helping others is the best way to help yourself. 

Wow. That was a lot of writing this morning. I didn't intend to write so much, but I feel very passionate about this topic. If I had a magic wand and could make one change for everyone, it would be to help them see beyond their worries and fears and view their full potential, instead. There is so much more to each of us and our lives than just our daily struggles. 

I matter. Each of you matter. We are all valuable and our lives have meaning. It is only when we believe those words that we stop existing and begin truly living. 

(Originally posted at SparkPeople.com.)