Friday, April 23, 2010

Stay positive ~ attitude is everything...

I saw an advertisement on Facebook for these bracelets; they are called "bandz" bracelets and I figured at $6.00 each, why not? They have all kinds of different ones with a variety of inspirational statements imprinted on them. This particular one says "Stay positive" on one side and "Attitude is everything" on the other side. Yes, I know its a little dorky but despite the fact that they are cheap and tarnish very easily, they have been a godsend. I wear them all the time. By the way, my answer to the tarnish problem is when they start to get like that, you soak them overnight and then all the silver plating wears off revealing a cool worn copper look!

Anyways, I digress. Why do I wear them? I wear them because they are a tangible reminder of the positive attitude that I try to keep at all times. I have to. Once I let myself get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking about all the ways in which my life has turned out so differently than I planned, it goes downhill from there. Of course I have days (actually I try to limit it to hours) where I say "my life really sucks", but I can tell you the fastest way to guarantee yourself day after day of discontentment and disappointment is by seeing the glass as half empty.

Is life full of pain, illness, broken hearts, lost jobs, and lost homes? Yes. However I truly believe it is how we approach these different events that determines the outcome. Here is an example: I lost my job of 10 years as a pediatric nurse due to my autoimmune disorder and not being able to return from my medical leave. I was devastated. I had given everything I had to my patients and to the hospital. I did not realize how much of my identity as a person was tied to my work as a nurse. Even though I had been out of work for 6 months already at that point, all of a sudden I was more lost than I had ever been. Someone took away a core aspect of my identity.

It seemed like not much could get worse, but then after a month or two, I realized that as much as I loved being a nurse and taking care of kids, I wasn't actually happy working there for a variety of reasons. So the glass half empty view that I had lost my job, was on disability, had no purpose in life, lost a whole social network of co-workers, etc. all of a sudden changed when I started looking at it in a different way. The glass half full attitude showed me a different perspective. I had to establish an identity for myself that didn't include having a vocation. This was a lesson in self discovery that I never have been through before. I realized I no longer had to face every day terrified about losing my job because well, it was done! I could concentrate more on getting well and finding a treatment. I looked at it as a new beginning. Although my returning to the workforce is still an undecided issue at the moment, I keep the attitude that someday I will be returning to a job of some sorts and the possibilities may be endless!

I have been asked on several occasions how I, for the most part, keep such an optimistic view on life. Well, I wear bracelets! OK, seriously that is just a part of it. I surround myself with as many positive people as possible. I never let a pity party go on for more than a few hours. I pray. I make a list of what I have in my life that I am grateful for and trust me, its a long list! I forgive other people more easily so the world doesn't seem so bad. I read, a lot. I read inspirational books, quotes, whatever I can get my hands on. I listen to upbeat music. I engage myself in activities that help other people especially those who are in much worse situations that I am in. I try to look at the world from a child's perspective; one that is usually (although not always) unscathed by our world.

I know that people experience more tragic events in their lives than losing a job and not all loss (especially the loss of a loved one) can have a positive spin to it. In general though, it seems to me that we as human beings oftentimes get caught up in a perpetual cycle of pessimism. I know, I spent years in it. It was amazing though that when I changed my attitude about events happening to me and around me, how differently the world looked. I have to tell you, it looks a lot better from this view....


  1. Chris - Steve told me a long time ago not to regret anything I did in the past because everything I did got me to the place I am at right now. When you think of all the wonderful things in your life, remember everything you did and that has happened to you, is how you got to be where you are and who you are today. Who knows how much you would appreciate, had you gone down, or was brought down a different road.

  2. So true! At first all of the loss seemed insurmountable and plain old unfair. But now, I would not give up what I have learned or the person I have become for anything. And that has been the blessing of lupus for me.