Just some thoughts to ponder: take a look at the first 3 lines.
I think what Tolkien is saying
is that just because something seems one way,
does not make it true.
For me, it’s the last line which holds a key: “deep roots are not reached by the frost“.
I feel it sums up the first three statements.
If we deeply understand the “why” we are doing something, that specific understanding can hold us safe from anything which would freeze us out, stop us, or derail our purpose. It’s part of having those roots that reach downward.
Even if you don’t “glitter” you still have gold!
When you are going deep through age and strength, your contribution will flourish!
Do. Not. Quit.
Don’t stop what you’re doing even if others can’t see your glitter, or criticize your wandering, or if they question your age. Be strong.
And then your deep roots will hold you secure.
Are you finding it hard to keep going? Need some encouragement? Read this.
As you strive to go deep, remember, being optimistic is a strategy, and it can be learned. The benefits are great. One part of the strategy to be optimistic is to focus on thankfulness.
Quick! For what are you thankful right now? Find three things… they can be simple, or complex. Remembering your “why” you’re doing things can be prompted by your thankfulness. And thankfulness grows deep roots.
Do you keep a journal? Maybe add some “thankful” notations!
Writing or recording what you’re thankful for doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated.
Got a smart-phone? I use the app Gratitude 365. (It’s free.) Or you could just put three things into your calendar (online or paper).
Learn how to be optimistic. Basically, you aren’t required to be born a positive person – optimism can be learned. Don’t give up just because you’re not good at it! Because there’s a way to…
Learn how to be optimistic.
But how, you ask?
If I’m being candid with you, (and my husband, Rob, can attest to this,) compared to some others, I am not naturally a positive person.
Did I really say that?
Yes, I did. I’m a learned optimist.
It’s a choice.
I believe anyone can learn how to be optimistic, and with deliberation, choose to act that way.
If so, then all of us can take action in a strategically positive way.
In all areas of our lives:
in how we think about ourselves,
as we talk to ourselves (our inner dialogue),
how we make choices in our life,
when we interact with people,
in our business world, church world, and family,
as we pursue our side-hustle, our hobbies,
and/or entrepreneurial life,
while setting and embracing our goals – large or small
and everything else life holds!
Here’s the path – with 4 aspects – on how to learn to be optimistic:
1 – Begin with love.
Start by feeling love for yourself. (Yes, it’s a journey.)
Firstly, I believe I was born on purpose and for a purpose. As were you! No person is an accident. Everyone has value.
For all those mothers who long to get pregnant, and parents who are trying and trying to conceive a child, this concept of a child being born on purpose is real. (As is the heart-wrench and ache when a child dies before you can hold her or him in your arms.)
Plus, as a Christian, I believe God loves me. He loves you. There’s a plan for us. As a great example of true, perfect love, Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His life in a horrible death for no reason other than He loved me. And you. And everyone. All people. Regardless. (If you’re looking for a romance story, the Bible is the ultimate one.)
Maybe your life thus far hasn’t shown you much love. If that’s the case, I just want to tell you:
It’s not the end of the story!
You can feel loved. There’s time.
Just as you have time to love others. It’s a journey.
Gratitude is so much more important than the world around you wants you to believe. Being thankful is a special sauce, a magic formula, the ultimate elixir on the way to being positive.
How do you track your thankfulness?
Being aware of what you’re thankful for is one thing. Because of this, it’s powerful when you see all the items concretely logged with writing or images.
Whether you use an app, a journal, a planner or a plain old notebook, keeping an ongoing list of all the items you’re thankful for on a daily basis is important!
Did you hear that?
I can’t think of another way to state it. Make it a habit at the beginning, middle or end of a day to list what you’re thankful for. Begin recording your thankfulness.
I challenge you to start with a list of 100 items. A while ago Rob and I did an exercise like this together and it was so much easier than it seems… From this, we realized that the greatest to the least little item provides many, many reasons each day to give thanks.
” Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Therefore, you can learn how to be optimistic if you use gratitude as a tool!
So, being loved and being thankful. Right.
And after that – what’s next?
3 – Being encouraged and encouraging others helps you to learn how to optimistic.
Thirdly, what is encouragement?
“Encouragement: words or actions that give someone confidence or hope and words or actions that help something to happen.”
~ from MacMillan Dictionary
To learn how to be optimistic means you understand the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is an action. It’s having hope for the future. People who are positive-focused know how to help themselves and others make something happen – something good for the future.
Optimists are confident that if they keep trying and continue to persevere, regardless, there will be an improvement.
And once an optimist is feeling hopeful, then…
4 – Optimists take action.
Lastly, some of the skills on the path to learn how to be optimistic are the ability to make a plan, work the plan and take action on the goals that’ll get you to the finish line of the plan. Does this sound familiar?
What if things don’t work out? Failure is part of the plan – it’s gonna happen, and optimists who take action have contingencies at hand to fail forward.
So, if something doesn’t work out, the optimist finds another way.
Above all, it’s about taking action – not getting stuck in inertia or analysis paralysis. Equally, if a positive person does get stuck, they look for help from another encouraging person! Do you have someone like that in your life?
Are you someone who takes action? Is there a chance you’re also a learned optimist?
Being Positive on Purpose
All in all, life isn’t always what you expect. There are curveballs…
It’s important to realize there are days, weeks and even years where being optimistic is hard. At times it feels almost impossible. I get it. I really do – due to circumstances we all encounter, I’ve experienced it and it’s difficult to be optimistic when in crisis. (Especially if others around you expect optimism from you and you’re feeling like you’re running on empty.)
What can you do when it’s hard to be optimistic?
Actively seek support. To clarify, surround yourself with people, activities, and resources which will support you in practicing:
loving yourself and others,
being thankful – in all circumstances,
accepting encouragement and giving encouragement,
and taking action.
To be transparent – that’s why this site was born. I needed something to keep my focus on remaining and then growing in being positive. So, that’s what PostiveThanksLiving.com is for… it’s for me and you!
On the positive side, there’s no end in learning to be optimistic.
You just get better at it. Certainly, it takes ongoing practice, but the benefits of practicing optimism impact everyone around you for the better.
Indeed, it’s not going to hurt anyone if you learn how to be optimistic… in fact, it’ll help make the world around you a little better!
Happiness is fleeting. In my life, the feeling of being happy shifts like the weather – the only surety is a change in and out and in again of happiness.
I’m imagining you might relate? It’s rare for anyone to be happy every day. (By-the-way, being joyful is a different story from the average happy moment. Read some thoughts about JOY here.)
Most of us merely want to have more happy days than we’re already experiencing.
Just like choosing to live in one part of the continent with more days of sunshine, than a different part of the continent with fewer sunny days, we do have the choice to structure our lives to experience more moments of happiness.
Is every day sunny? No. Will every moment be happy? Of course not. However, you can…
Structure your happiness – 100 days experiment!
Just so you know, I don’t think you need a special book, app or planner to take action toward structuring more happiness in your life. Purchasing something isn’t necessary. You could design your own map, print your own tracking pages, or just use a plain notebook to make notes.
The idea is to have a plan and then track progress over a period of time.
I ordered the 100-day Happiness Planner for my birthday a few years ago. It was during a hard time. No tragedies – just life.
During this time I felt like I needed to take strong, decisive steps to structure my days to include opportunities to feel happy. I looked at many programs, considered creating one of my own, and then – for my needs – I decided to invest in the 100-day Happiness Planner.
This resource provided certain properties I needed:
a short period – 100 days is just over 3 months – to try new ways to structure my days/weeks and experiment with specific goals
no particular dates (undated) so I could write in my own dates and begin/end as I chose.
opportunity for reflection – questions and room to journal my thoughts
planning space for daily and weekly events
space to record thankfulness every day/week
a way to track what I was learning via Scripture and actively listening in church services
positive affirmations (although, I replaced some with God-honoring statements for the ones I didn’t like.)
This site, PostiveThanksLiving.com grew out of my time working in the 100-day Happiness Planner.
What do you need to structure happiness into your life?
More happy moments may not happen all by themselves. Sometimes we need a boost, a trigger, or a tool.
I hope this site, which grew from my time of reflection, can be a boost and trigger for your life. My goal is to provide positivity and gratitude prompts so we all have what we need to add some happiness into our life.
What other tools to structure happiness could you use?
Maybe you need to focus on adding some healthy boundaries to your life? This is a good book to learn how to do that.
Perhaps you feel it’s time to pursue deepening your marriage.
Rob and I talk about this book with couples all the time. It’s practical and easy to implement, no matter in what state your relationships exists.
Have you ever done a “vision board”? In simple terms, it’s a collection of photos/images of what you’re working toward pasted or printed onto one paper. (I couldn’t find a resource to link to here, so I guess I’ll be creating one in the future!)
What other tools do you need?
Leave a comment – what has helped you find more happiness in your life in the past?
I use Instagram to document those things that bring me joy… and around the end of each year, our family gathers to draw/color/write a “plate” to highlight all the joys, peaks and valleys of the past year. We’ve been doing this for 18 years. (Clickhere to see our “plate” experience!)
Somewhere, sometime, a long time ago, I heard a person say, “If your life is worth living, it’s worth documenting.” I don’t remember who said it, but it’s remained a cautionary statement.
However, before you can document your joys – those happenings which cause JOY – you need to notice them. Perhaps that’s why I find the above quote by Robert Louis Stevenson particularly poignant…
3. Surround yourself with positive words.What we think is important. When you find yourself dwelling on the negative, replace it with positive statements. Scripture verses work for me and a few days ago I wrote an article with 25 Sticky Postive Thoughts to see if any of them resonated for you. From your responses to that post, it seemed like you liked the idea.
Lessons? What benefits come from being thankful? Being thankful in all circumstances (even in a pandemic) can teach you much more than you’d imagine. Sure, not everything feels good, but there’s always something you can find for which to give thanks.
Practice your Thanks-Living skills!
Here are five great lessons you can learn by being thankful:
1 – Thankfulness opens hearts.
Being thankful, regardless of the stage and state of your life, might not be easy, but it does impact those around you. During times when Rob and I have experienced less-than-optimum situations, expressing what we’re thankful for has created a connection.
Hardship can divide spouses, families, and friends, just because everyone is focused, in word and deed, on the struggle.
Expressing thankfulness draws hearts back together.
If you find yourself avoiding talking to those you love because of the issues you’re dealing with, then start with a sentence about what you’re feeling grateful for… talking about all the blessings in your life can engage everyone, and you might surprise each other at what you find yourself grateful for…
2 – Being thankful shapes the future.
Once you start discussing all the areas in which you’re thankful, you’ll begin to see where God has blessed your life in the past. And that leads to anticipating future opportunities. If your future is shaped in what you’re thankful for, it becomes easier to bounce back and get on track.
3 – Gratitude reduces want-itis. Lessons in less.
“Gimme-gimme” and “I want, I want, I want” have become an epidemic in our western society. Being thankful for what we have combats the materialism of our culture in a healthy way.
Once you notice all you actually possess and feel a sense of thankfulness, wanting extra stuff becomes less attractive. The lessons and benefits of this part of being thankful just keep on going…
4 – Thankfulness impacts our memories – lessons in remembering.
Memory is subjective. Two people can think back on the same experience and will have differing memories, according to their bent toward optimism or pessimism. Once an individual looks back in their history with the filter of gratitude, the memories can be wired toward optimism.
5 – Thankfulness balances a healthy sense of self – a curious circle of lessons.
Being thankful can increase an internal sense of self-esteem because it hones attention to where others are helping. By acknowledging you need help, which can be humbling, you also must shift to the belief that you’re a worthwhile person because someone went out of their way to help. It’s a curious cycle.
Yesterday I wrote about sticky positive thougthts and said I have Scripture verses posted to encourage my thinking. This is one that’s been very important to me:
… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This article about a sermon on the above Scripture is one of my recent favorites – it unpacks the idea that we don’t need to be grateful for the suffering, but rather we can be grateful in the suffering.
What sticks in your brain? Have you ever heard a melody and it kept going ’round and ’round in your head for the rest of the day (or night)? If you like the song, then that’s OK – but if you don’t… well, it can drive you batty!
And it’s the same with our thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts we think are helpful for our behavior, and sometimes they aren’t.
Wouldn’t it be good to have sticky positive thoughts going ’round our head rather than those stinky negative ones?
Sticky Positive Thoughts
Let’s get some sticky positive thoughts into our brains… Do any of these resonate with you?
I’m loved and wanted.
My time will come – I can be happy when others succeed.
As beautiful as a solo can be, a symphony has greater depth.
(In case you’re wondering, a symphony is a musical composition for a group of instruments with at least four distinct sections.)
Who is playing in your symphony?
Whistling alone might not be the best choice. Make your life interesting – embrace the opportunity to play with others. However, it’s also good to be playing your life’s symphony with a group that supports you…
So – who is in your symphony orchestra of life?
Is it time to audition a few new players?
A few places of encouragement:
To support this idea of not just whistling in an empty room, I’m participating in a writing challenge for the month of April and I thought I’d share some posts from fellow writers!
Bonnie always makes me chuckle! (I’ve been reading her posts since 2011) Everything from relationships, her grands, to trash on the beach – it’s all fodder for her way of looking at life. If you want to view Life on the Lighter Side, check out Bonnie’s post!
Kerry is a mom from my home country of Canada. She writes about being creative – this posthas a beautiful perspective. “Choosing a hobby for which you have talent is an important part of self-care.” she says. What’s your creative hobby? How do you use your creativity to glorify God?
I “met” Debi and Tom from The Romantic Vineyard when we both participated in a 30-day challenge in 2011. She continues to write about marriage, and her posts are insightful and fun – Rob and I have adopted/adapted some of her dating ideas. Debi asks, “Are you up for the challenge”? – I encourage you to explore the website and share it with your “couple-friends”!
These are only a few of the articles I’ve been reading in this symphony of online voices…
Concerned over your future – of things not working out?
There’s a simple solution: just do the next thing…
“Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care. Do it with reverence, tracing His hand who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.”
“By this time, evening had come. And as it was preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, a man who looked forward to the kingdom of God, bravely went into Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead, so he sent for the centurion and asked him whether it was long since He died. When he heard the centurion’s report, he gave Joseph leave to take the dead body. So Joseph bought a linen sheet, took Him down from the cross, wrapped Him in the sheet and laid Him in a tomb cut out of the rock and rolled a stone against the entrance.”
Can’t you imagine the disciples and Mary and Martha and the other bewildered women, sitting in absolute dejection and perplexity when their Lord and Master and King had just died?
They couldn’t think of one single thing to do.
Here came this Godly man, who looked forward to the kingdom of God, who bravely went in and asked for the body of Jesus.
He could think of one thing to do. He did the next thing.
That must have been a tremendous cheer and encouragement to those discouraged people. “
Set yourself up for success. Choose something to pursue that will be easy to reach – at least in the beginning. And if you have a large goal in mind, then divide it into smaller bits and pieces. You are capable of SO much!