It is much more common for humans to focus on the negative than the positive. I don’t know why we are bred this way, but we are. I am in no way immune to negative thought patterns. It really takes focus and intention to become the type of person that reacts to situations with positive thoughts, words, and actions. For most, and I speak for myself, this will likely be a life-long work in progress.
In working with the public for many years, I have found that there are certain things or situations (listed below) that people complain about. A verbal complaint must stem from a negative thought. We wouldn’t say it, if we didn’t think it. A favorite quote of mine by Joyce Meyers is, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” When you catch yourself verbally complaining or negatively thinking, I want you to ask yourself, “What’s the alternative?” This little question can help put things into perspective and will begin to change the way you think, speak, and act.
What’s the alternative to….
Aging. Ummm, hello? Being six feet under. Every day you wake up and step out of bed is a gift from God. Do not waste any minute of your day complaining about your age or turning another year older. Do you know how many people don’t get the chance to live a long, fruitful life? See their kids graduate from college? See the birth of the grandchildren? Celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary with their spouse? You get the point, don’t discount the blessing of aging.
Wrinkles and stretch marks. Ok, I get it; we live in a world that tells us to focus on our physical appearance. Americans are on the hunt for the fountain of youth–wrinkles and stretch marks don’t exactly scream youth, but you know what they do scream? Laughter, emotions, smiles, the gift of aging, and the miracle of childbirth, among other things. Your wrinkles tell your life story, why would you want to change them? Your stretch marks are the most beautiful “battle wounds” that you could every have. Why would you want to erase them? What’s the alternative? No laughter? No adventure? No children? Well, that’s silly. Do not be embarrassed by wrinkles or stretch marks; they are beautiful, they are part of your story, they are you.
Your job. Oh boy, this is a big one. How many of you get out of bed excited to start your day? I am hoping many of you are raising your hands, but I have a suspicion that might not be the case. First of all, what’s the alternative? Hmmm, no job, which means no money to pay your bills, no financial security, no food on the table, etc. That isn’t too appealing either, is it? At the very least, when you step out of bed in the morning, try giving thanks to the things that your job allows you to enjoy. What do you have to lose? Shifting your morning mindset around this can really make or break how you approach your day.
If you truly feel unsatisfied with your job, only you can make a change. Complaining about it isn’t going to make a new job miraculously appear out of thin air. Take these steps to create a new work opportunity for yourself: 1. Write down what brings you true joy. 2. Come up with three or more possible job ideas that involve that “thing” that brings you joy. (Ex: Someone who enjoys helping people may enjoy working at a school, shelter, or clothing store.) 3. For each job idea, write down all of the steps that would be necessary for you to get it. 4. Take a few days away from your list and pray about it. 5. Come back to your list and choose the path that your heart feels drawn to. 6. Put your list of steps into place and take action.
A messy house. I know what you are going to say, the alternative is a clean house! You are right, that is an alternative, but I want you to think about why you have a messy house and consider the alternative to not having these “whys”. You probably have a messy house because it is a home that your family lives in. What good is a house if there is no laughter, play, or love in it? Dirty dishes can be a sign that your family shared a delicious meal together, toys left out can mean your children had a fun day of being entertained, and wet paw marks can mean you have a dog that gives you love. All of these “annoyances” are only annoyances because we allow them to be. What would life be like with no family meals, play, or love?
The first step to overcoming the “messy house mindset” is allowing yourself to be ok with not having a perfectly spotless home every single minute of the day. Do not pass up opportunities to engage in your loved ones for fear of a dirty home. The other thing you can do if a messy house really takes away from your joy is hire someone to clean. This is a no brainer. This frees up time for you, will give you peace of mind, and also gives someone else a job. Win, win, win.
Too many commitments. The alternative to this? No commitments. Well, that’s not fun either. This time of year, our calendars tend to get overbooked. Your first instinct may be to complain, but I encourage you to be thankful you have so many people in your life that truly enjoy your company and want you to be a part of their celebration, party, or event. However, you do have to set realistic parameters for yourself. It may not be possible to attend every single event that you are invited to. You have to pick and choose to attend the events that truly bring you joy. For the events that you choose to decline, send a thank you card or a small gift. The beautiful thing is that you not only get to choose how you spend your time, but you also get to choose your mindset. If you go into an event expecting and knowing that it will bring you happiness, peace, and joy, then it will. Don’t expect otherwise.
I hope this blog post helped to give you a little perspective on alternatives. Like I said above, it doesn’t come naturally to automatically think of the positives. The good news though, is that you can become this type of person by focusing intention on it. Anytime you catch yourself complaining about one of the things above, or about anything for that matter, hit your mental “pause” button and redo those thought patterns. Practice makes perfect. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. EnJOY your day. Xo.