A Formula For Ongoing Optimism
Point to Ponder:
When faced with adversity of challenge, how can you change your perspective in how you respond?
Last week I was in conversation with two different friends and talking about two separate topics and their comments were ironically similar. Though not verbatim, they said something like: “I wonder what the spiritual lesson is in this?", or in other words, I wonder what God, the universe, a higher power, life is trying to teach us.
I love it when introspective thoughts are tossed my way and as last week’s journal focus was on the proven health benefits of optimism and positivity, when i heard my friends' comments I immediately thought: what if every time I encountered adversity, disappointment, or conflict, rather than quickly allowing my attitude to negatively shift, what if I instead paused, took a deep breath, saw the situation from an aerial view and posed these questions to myself: "What is God trying to teach me", "What is God trying to protect me from", "What is my opportunity", "What is the lesson in this" and "How can I make this positive.
As I contemplated these thoughts, of course I was given the opportunity to use them (funny how that always happens). The situation was: About 6 weeks ago my sister and her husband (from Cedar Park, TX) booked a flight from Austin to San Diego to visit me for my birthday and most excitingly, attend the University of Texas vs University of Southern California football game at the iconic and "bucket-list" USC football stadium called The Colisseum. For them, it was going to be a whirlwind trip to San Diego, drive to LA and then drive back to San Diego.... a 36-hour fun frenzy. For my sister, this was a huge deal, as she doesn’t thrive in fast-paced and fly-by-the seat-of-your-pants trips, but we were all-in for the thrill of making a great memory. Unfortunately however, Thursday night (less than 24 hours before their flight) she realized their airline tickets were wrong and they weren’t going to make the trip.
I was bummed for so many reasons, with the main being that we have been so excited to see them, introduce them to our friends and enjoy a fun “bucket-list” sports weekend together, ….and between the flights and football tickets, they were losing a lot of much money. We were all very disappointed and I felt sorry for them and me, but as a result of a good nights rest, remembering our optimism theme, iGnite’s “Be Positive” Fundamental and my two great conversations with friends about spiritual opportunities and lessons, by Friday morning I went ito inquiry/solution mode. I took the wisdom from my friends and asked myself “What is God trying to teach us, tell us or protect us from, what is my opportunity and how can I turn this into a positive?”
As a result of the important overnight pause and waking up with a clear head and bird's-eye view perspective, the best conclusion I came up with was it just wasn’t in the cards for them to come. My sister and her husband both work and often their mornings begin at 4:30 a.m. Also, they have a very active and involved seven and twelve year old and I knew a restful weekend was likely what they needed. Finally, I assumed there had to be two other people in our neighborhood who would love the tickets and it would also be a way for me to salvage some of her money. Surely this would turn the sour grapes into a delicious glass of rich and flavorful Cabernet!!
Excitingly, by 2:00 Friday afternoon, the dilemma was resolved and the outcome was better than ever imagined! Not only did we find a couple to buy the tickets, but it happened to be a new and dear friend of mine who recently moved into our neighborhood. As a result of her move, adapting to a new community and getting their kids into a new school, the timing to getaway, take an adult break and have fun with friends could not have been better. Plus, she is a huge college football fan, so it was a win/win for everyone…and I might add, despite the double overtime loss for the Horns, the entire day was a full and wonderful glass of wine!
If you have ever been around children or have your own, patience is definitely not something they are born with. You may have experienced what I am currently trying to correct, which is the rapid-fire questions and “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!”. During this rapid-fire questioning or yelling “Mom!” eighteen times in a row, they somehow manage to avoid breathing in between the questions or screaming my name, and with every repeat, they get louder and louder. Ultimately, they don’t give me two seconds to respond or react before firing again. In an effort to maintain my mental health and their physical safety, I am attempting to train them to take two, long deep breaths before asking the question twice or saying my name again. They haven’t mastered this new habit yet, but they are making progress. Today, as I was reminding them to take their deep breaths, when thinking about how quickly and rapid- fire-like our thoughts can shift into negative ones, it prompted me to think how impatient we are and when we encounter unpleasant events, occurrences and experiences, we too need be patient, take deep breaths, slow down our mind and ask those wise and intuitive questions that will keep us out of the negative and allow us to stay in the positive.
1. What is God trying to teach me, tell me or protect me from?
2. What is my opportunity and lesson
3. How can I turn this into a positive
Next time you experience adversity or challenge, take several deep breaths, look at the situation with a bird's eye view and ask yourself what your lesson or opportunity in it is?