Seriously, my friends, what is it to be "consciously optimistic?" Let me start by saying I have not always taken this approach to life, nor do I do it impeccably now. It was a running joke in my family, my mom lovingly referring to me as Eeyore. Besides a "Oh, it'll never work out" pessimistic perspective, the frequent misplacement of keys and/or phone (instead of a tail), and figurative dark cloud over head, we shared nothing in common, he and I. Looking at life through those cliched rose-colored glasses went against everything in my genetic makeup, or so I believed.
Happiness, unless restricted by the ever looming chemical imbalance, is attainable as long as you make the decision to work for it. This is not a natural or comfortable concept for me so initially it was super difficult. It totally felt weird and awkward. How can one decide to be happy and positive? It requires a certain level of awareness and acceptance of life as it is and what it could be if you get out of your own dern way.
I recently read this phenominal book by Jen Sincero, You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. If you haven't read it and question your own "badass-ery" then scoop it a-sap. In it she says "What you focus on becomes your reality." Looooove thaaaat (I sang that part)! If you fixate on all the crap that life has thrown your way then you will continue to recognize only the crap. By appreciating all that is good in your life, more good will come your way. The energy that you send out into the Universe is what will find it's way back to you so it behooves you to send out the good stuff, man.
As I work through this refreshing and uplifting perceptive, I thought I'd share some thoughts about what conscious optimism is comprised of. Hope it helps!
"How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood once in awhile?"
Well, Lloyd Dobler was onto somethin' y'all. Never did I think that Say Anything would make it's way into a 2017 blog post, but here it is, as poignant as ever. Sometimes it's that simple. Being consciously optimistic starts with the conscious decision to be positive. To be happy. For me, that didn't come easily. The behavior had to come before the feelings. And it's way hard, I am not going to tell you otherwise. For example, I constantly have to remind myself to smile. Just smile (and yes, I do have to remind myself as friendliness is not a natural part of my guarded personality). Studies have proven that smiling can actually increase the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain and that is a must if you want to improve your attitude. So, be sure to smile and wave to the cantankerous neighbor you know will let his dog take a dump on your lawn the minute your car is out of sight. Give it a shot. I promise it will make you feel better.
Yip! You've got it. MEDITATE (or even pray, for that matter). Quiet your brain for a bit. Chatty Cathy has been whispering in your ear for, like, years basically, so let's give her a break and give silence the reigns. Cathy has not always served you well; she's super bossy, opinionated and kinda nasty at times. If you are anything like me, it is tough to sit quietly and not work out your grocery list, race through song lyrics, or want to sleep. But, again, the behavior often has to come first before the desire to do it. I have to force myself to sit lots. The cool thing is that there are so many awesome resources at our fingertips for learning how to meditate. Whether you decide to watch YouTube videos, listen to guided meditation, or read books on practices, try it out. I started with a minute. That's it. One. Minute. Why? Because at first it was all I could do to sit through that brief 60 second eternity. Even today, at most I do 5 minutes. It doesn't have to be a long time to be effective. What a way to start or end a day. Just sayin'.
Do What You Love
For 10 years I was a teacher. I loved it every now and again but, over time, I grew tired of the life it left me. I never saw my family. Forget "me time." And when asked, I had no idea what I was passionate about. I was becoming quite passionate about NOT teaching anymore, actually. So I had to step back, take inventory on my life, and act. I'm not suggesting taking a huge leap sans net but most definitely take said leap. I fell in love with helping launch EVER Skincare and guiding other women to successfully launch their own businesses. Talk about fulfilling! And hearing from women and men who have finally found confidence either in themselves or in their tweens/teens. Who wouldn't want to build a life surrounded by that level of positivity? I left teaching in 2016 and have sought happiness and fulfillment in my EVER journey and life as a rockin' blogger. Finally I am doing what I love! And guess what? Because I love it, I want to do it all the time. And I'm good at it! What a sweet gig.
This is wicked hard. My mind wanders. I will straight-up watch someone's lips move, then ask me what sounds like a question, leaving me with no response other than, "Wait, what? I totally wasn't listening." (brutal honesty is both a blessing and a curse). Someone once told me to practice being present and in the moment, by repeating in your head the words the person is saying so you can better internalize it. Interesting. It takes some time to adjust. Some time to not think about how weird "ointment" sounds or how much you hate the word "juicy" (Just me? K.) Or even click the top of a pen. It will drive those around you nuts, however, it will serve it's purpose for keeping you in the moment. Let the others deal with their own distractions as you handle yours.
Follow Your Moral Compass
We all hold dear core values and beliefs by which we live and die. There are some that we steadfastly abide by, for me it's expressing appreciation, tireless determination = success, and responsibility, a.k.a. owning it. And those on which we will always be working, again for me it's acceptance of things I can't control, mindfulness, and family first. Follow your heart and your gut. Trust that you know what's important enough to cherish. And share your best self with the rest of us waiting for your unique greatness.
In Order of Importance
Obtaining and maintaining balance in your life is huge. Those to-do lists aren't going to write themselves, party people. And those lists aren't limited to errands and housework. What tasks must you prioritize to grow your business, for example? Is it more important to complete your blog post or go down to the kitchen to get five mint Oreos? You tell me. (No. Seriously tell me because clearly I don't know.) It is certainly more productive to get the blog post done which is why those five cookies were brought to the desk instead of leisurely savored over a warm glass of milk. Success will come with more time dedicated to that blog post.
However, on a deeper, life-level, what is more important...precious time spent with too quickly-maturing children or watching re-runs of Real Housewives seasons alone? Everything is relative and everyone's priorities and life circumstances are different. Meaning only you can prioritize your own life in order of importance. Just be sure to put the things, people, experiences that mean the most to you first. Be mindful though, what may seem to be the most important because of it's time-sensitive nature may not be so on a grander, more big-picture scale.
I think it's fairly obvious that I am, by no means, perfect. That said, I, by no means, do all of the above perfectly. These elements are all ingredients in a recipe for living on purpose. Living consciously optimistic. I approach this recipe like an Italian making grandma's famous meatballs. I try to include all of the ingredients but sometimes I forget one and I may use a pinch here, a dash there. The measurements are different every time. But, ya know what? The end result is always delicious and well-worth the effort.
Join me on this journey to living consciously optimistic in all areas of this fabulous life; in mind, body and soul. I can't wait to share this with you!