Gus, I want to thank you for the wonderful work that you do, to lift others up. I just watched the 20 words to change your life and wow. That was the icing on the cake.
I am a 63 year old woman from a very dysfunctional background, severely abused as a child and adult, low self-esteem, much illness, breast cancer survivor, head injury survivor, disabled, broke, worried about my future, and you lift me up every day. Right now my living conditions are just above being homeless, I worked all my life but am disabled with no savings. I had to reverse mortgage my home to stay in it and to help a relative who was nasty and let me down afterwards, my HVAC is broken, I fell today and suffer constant headaches because my glasses are so old and they want $500 for new glasses, everything just piling up on me and I am so discouraged. I had some character assassination going on in August and September from people who I had helped and were jealous of my spiritual wealth and independence, and it drove me to nearly ending it. I have never done anything like that in my life but I am so worried and desperate right now. I love Joyce Meyer and Wayne Dyer and even wrote last night to ask if there was a scholarship for the You Can Do It conference in Tampa next month. I've always wanted to go and now really NEED to. I am just down and out. I have helped others all my life to the neglect of myself because of this low self esteem thing which I am working to relieve myself of now. It's never too late! I cannot see correctly even. So much.
I can't tell you Gus, how much your encouragements mean to me to at least keep me on a positive note from moment to moment. I am very grateful for your work, you are a blessing to me! Thank you so much! Gratitude abounds! : )
Love, in Christ
That was an email message I received out of the blue a few nights ago from a loyal fan and member of my Facebook page called Gusto. What makes hers so encouraging is how she has made the conscious CHOICE to remain positive in the face of so many difficulties. And although this message is quite personal in nature, I believe her story is not unlike so many of us in this day and age, at least from the perspective of hardship. There are certainly many more.
For example, not long ago I conducted a teleconference with a few of the members of my Facebook page, all of whom are experiencing struggles in life in one form or another, including health issues, career problems, family difficulties, and so on. And then there are those who, by virtue of some of their comments on various posts on my Facebook page, reveal patterns remarkably similar. These individuals are expressing the same problems in life many of us are facing. Some have made the choice like I have, to find something positive in their life they can cling to in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Others however, are stuck in a negative vortex. They can’t seem to pull themselves out of the rut they’re in. They complain and bemoan about their lot in life.
Why do some of us seem afflicted with nothing but pain and hardship in life while others seem to be on easy street? Why do some of us struggle with life issues while others seem to always find a way to keep moving forward in a positive light?
I’ve written here before about a topic and phrase entitled “acceptance is the answer.” Some of you reading this know the source from which that phrase originated. And though some may believe it’s designed only for those who are following diligent “steps” in their path of self-recovery, I’ve maintained for some time that phrase applies to ALL of us, regardless of our particular circumstances or misfortunes. That book is about LIFE.
“Acceptance is the answer to all of your problems today. When you are disturbed, it is because you find some person, place, thing, or situation ---- some fact of your life ---- unacceptable to you, and you can find no serenity until you accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Unless you accept completely life's terms, you cannot be happy. You need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in you and your attitudes.”
Powerful words. They’ve changed my life. They can change yours, too. But remember, not only is life hard, it can unexpectedly become harder. One day we might be comfortably cruising along, and then suddenly it seems like everything is going wrong: Your marriage is in shambles, or you’ve just discovered that you’re not as financially stable as you thought, or you suddenly lose a lover, friend, or family member. The world has changed. Everything seems ominous and uncertain.
That’s when you can fall into the trap of pessimism and negativity. It may seem like the natural thing to do given what you’re going through. How can we work on building a healthy and optimistic way of living when we’re overcome with pain, anxiety, and fear? But no matter how hard things become, there are ways to approach your situation that can make it less burdensome.
Here are four ways to stay positive when life gets you down:
Express Gratitude. Be mindful about what you do have, whether it’s a fantastic friend or a wonderful partner. Try making a list of things you’re grateful for every night for two weeks. It can be even more powerful to express gratitude to someone who you feel truly thankful for. Write them a letter telling them how they have helped you. Additionally, try to cultivate a sense of gratitude in everyday life for things both major and minor. Thank that stranger who goes a little out of his way to hold the door open for you. Appreciating the good in the world can change the way you look at life.
Volunteer. Take your awareness outside of yourself and focus it on the well-being of others. This may not be possible if you’re in crisis mode, but it can be very helpful if you’re increasingly preoccupied by your own negative thoughts. Many studies have shown that community service and philanthropy are more satisfying over the long term than focusing on your problems. Try volunteering at your local library, homeless shelter or hospital. You can become less focused on the bad stuff you’ve been dealing with—and even form a connection with others in the process.
Notice the Good. It might seem nearly impossible to find the silver lining in a burdensome situation, but it can be helpful. Maybe you’ve gone through some personal growth and change because of what’s happened, or you’ve become closer to someone.
Change Negative Self-Talk. It’s way too easy to think the same negative thoughts over and over again. However, you can learn to change this by doing some cognitive-behavioral therapy on yourself. When you notice yourself having a negative thought about yourself, replace it with a positive one. If you find yourself thinking “It’s all my fault” or “I’m not good enough,” stop and remind yourself of how well you’ve been coping and how others appreciate you.
The bottom line on becoming and remaining optimistic: We can’t change what happens to us or to loved ones, but we can change how we react to it. And though that process may take some time, it’s worth it because of the joy and peace of mind optimism can bring.
Finally, if nothing else, maybe this will help. The same thing my friend said in her email was “the icing on the cake!”