I don’t care how hard one tries to “look on the bright side.” There are times when “stuff” happens and it’s just plain difficult to get back to an upbeat view.
The first coolest thing was when our ages hit double digits. Then, something else new and exciting was always around the bend. At 13, it was my Bar Mitzvah. Sixteen brought a driver’s license; 18 ushered in the newly earned right to vote; 21 celebrated with (too much) champagne. There was always another reason to move on to the next year. Bring ‘em on. Line ‘em up! Don’t stop!
However as John Mellencamp lamented in, “The Real Life,”
It’s a lonely proposition when you realize/That there’s less days in front of the horse/Than riding in the back of this cart.
Aside from the fact that it should be “fewer days,” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the concept is spot on. It’s macabrely humorous that as soon as one begins to realize he’s on the downward slope of the hill, vainly pumping the brakes, the calendar’s pages flip ever faster. When we were young and immortal, time crawled at a fossil’s pace. As the clock ticks louder, it also accelerates.
The result is many of us begin to poorly affirm what aging is about, viewing it negatively.
I mean, yeah, sure, there’s that “death thing” looming out there, which does cast a pallid gloom on post-middle-age. Yet, spending my remaining (hopefully) many years bemoaning a natural and unavoidable process seems a pretty rotten way to appreciate those very years, wouldn’t you say? Therefore, I thought it would be good to wrap my brain around the cool things about getting older so whenever yanked to the getting-older-sucks magnet, I can repel easier.
First, the hastening stride of time allows a much richer appreciation of “smaller moments.”
As the story goes, a couple is concerned about the huge gap in attitudes between their two sons.
One lad is a confirmed pessimist, his sibling the decisive optimist. Wanting to advance the cynical child’s outlook and guard the other from disappointment by teaching him that things don’t always go as expected, the parents come up with a scheme.
On Christmas morning, each youngster awakens to find his own sizeable, wrapped present. The dour child opens his and discovers in it the ultimate building set. As if on que, his demeanor sours and he whines, “There are too many pieces, I’m know I’ll lose a whole bunch of them and then I’ll be sad. Why would you do that to me?”
The upbeat sibling, on the other hand, unwraps his only to find a dirty, rusty horseshoe atop wads of paper. Undeterred by what appears to be a mean, lousy gift, he eagerly starts digging through the papers excitedly proclaiming, “Wow! There’s got to a pony in here somewhere!”
Attitude, our outlook on the events that make up our lives, will either elevate or ruin us because it determines our actions and therefore the manner in which others react to us.
I normally don’t write “how-to” columns but a coaching client recently asked how she could become more upbeat, so I thought, “What the heck, might as well share it more widely.” Making our planet a bit more cheery, one reader at a time, here are four of the more common reasons one’s attitude can take a trip to the dumpster.
Reason #1: All-or-nothing thinking
Giving up a habit can feel like a major sacrifice.
Therefore, our inner cranky child emerges and we grumble and complain, dragging our feet, resisting what we know has to be done. Like a small child, we wail and moan, crossing our arms in a huff, stamping our feet, and resisting vehemently.
“I don’t wanna eat less!”“I hate exercise! Do I hafta?”
“Do I really have to organize my house?”
What would it be like if – instead of focusing on what we have give up – we looked at it as how excited we’re going to feel once we do it?
Instead of looking at it as a sacrifice, we focus on how good we’re going to feel when we drop those few pounds, or when the house is organized, or when we can enjoy a walk on a sunny day.
The amount of work won’t change, but our attitude sure will.
And that’s definitely worth a lot.
Change your observations; change your attitude.
Change your attitude; change your life.
Beliefs are closely held values accepted as facts and validated by repeat observations.
Therefore, if you change what you look for (observations), you will change your beliefs. If you change your beliefs, you will change your attitude. If you change your attitude, you will change how you react to the world (and therefore how it reacts to you).