I’m one of the most negative people I know… Surprised?
This may come as a shocker … but it’s something that bothers me greatly. When in public, I try to keep it under wraps. It’s a particularly cumbersome piece of baggage to carry when you are a person of faith because we aren’t supposed to worry, fret or experience long-term negativity.
It was something that always bothered me about my dad as well. He seemed well able to zero in on the negative… on dangers… on risks, etc. faster than on the positives. When I showed him our very first house – before purchasing it – he had a lot of concerns. Later, after we sold it, he waxed poetic about the great little house it had been for our family.
Now I see that same propensity in me and I think it bothers me even more because: (a) I think “I should know better” … having made a solemn vow to “never be like that when I grow older” and (b) I remember the cold-shower effect it had on me so I feel guilty for inflicting the same on my family.
Maybe there’s an element of mid-life crisis that comes to play (I’m approaching 50) but thankfully there’s no need to envision man-perms, gold chains & open collar shirts or flashy little open-top sports cars (the quintessential ‘mid-life crisis’ image from the 70s and 80s).
Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve never been as financially strapped or felt so lonely (a lousy combination) as we have the last 2 years while being involved in what’s perceived to be a highly valued, benevolent and self-sacrificing endeavor – or calling – as Christians: foreign missions.
It’s a bit of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario – are we struggling because of the seeming lack of progress & hardship or are we experiencing lack of progress & hardship because we’ve let the struggle get to us?
I’d say that both are at play and, coming back to the issue of faith, it’s easy for an element of guilt to creep in as well. We’re not supposed to feel this way.
Enter ‘3 Good Things’
Back in January, while preparing for an English course I’m teaching, I came across a Ted Talk by author Shawn Achor on “The Happiness Advantage” and in a nutshell, he posits the following:
If, at some point, whether by profession or propensity, we find ourselves in a pattern of negativity, the longer we stay there or nourish that, the more we train our brain to look for and find negativity – He calls it the Tetris Effect.
His solution… make a conscious effort to direct your brain in the opposite direction – essentially re-train it – by making a daily habit of the following:
- journaling about 3 good things that happened to you in the last 24 hours… and/or something you’re grateful for.
- Meditation (sounds like prayer to me & isn’t it interesting that ever secular professionals recommend the value of prayer)
- Exercise (whoa boy… not sure I can do that one! 🙂 )
So… while this won’t publish until later, I’m beginning this on Saturday, January 19th and will, every day for the next 30 days, quickly catalogue three good things that I’m grateful for.
I won’t publish until March because I want there to be a little distance between baring my soul and the actual publishing.
First 3… January 19th
- Today I got to put my hands in the earth. Last year I began rooting some lavender cuttings that I recouped when I trimmed the existing plants. It’s a good time to transplant them because the cool temps will still allow them to grow roots without hot sun baking them. More plants for free is like a gift that keeps on giving because they’ll bring enjoyment this summer. Digging in the earth lets me breathe and I’m grateful for that.
- Call me crazy, but the Christmas Tree is still up and we’re still enjoying the soft glow of the white lights and reminiscing over memories that accompany many of the ornaments. The tree didn’t go up until quite late (our first year with an artificial tree here) so we’re milking it – Hey, if people can put it up in early November, surely we’re not being unreasonable. I’m grateful for quiet, dimly lit mornings & evenings in front of the tree.
- Had a good discussion with Liz tonight. It’s rare that we’re both at home alone without the kids being with us and not consumed with various tasks & responsibilities. Sometimes we all just “get into a groove”. If it wasn’t for her, I have serious doubts as to whether or not we’d still be in France. She’s a good one. She taught me something about submitting to the Lord’s will, even when that’s not always comfortable.
(Note: Future #3GoodThings posts won’t be as long since I won’t have the whole intro info to include.)