Keeping things positive is a response to a question about how I deal with all the negative messaging we receive every day. I mentioned to an online friend that I had signed up for a twenty-one day online retreat (I don’t know why they call it that, it’s really a mini-course.) about reframing negative messages at Spirituality and Practice.
Having followed things at Rise This Day and commenting positively on my photography from time to time, a friend said recently, “I figured you were already a positive person.” Well, I think that I am overall, I replied, but these days we seem to be bombarded with non-stop media that’s about reporting what’s “bad,” especially all things political, that’s interrupted by relentless advertising, that first tells us what’s wrong with our bodies and our lives and then offers us the perfect solution, of course with a price! And since I enjoy keeping up with political news and have political affiliations that by and large support my social, moral and spiritual beliefs, I figured I could use a brush-up in the keeping things positive department. My friend responded playfully, I hope, with “I see. Good luck with that!”
An additional ‘H-U-G-E” factor
And then, in the US, there was an election this past November, and an unlikely character by the last name of Trump won the presidency. And I have been trying to find stable footing, emotionally, politically and even spiritually since this person took office on January 20, 2017, and to date I am making, or taking, baby steps in making sense of it all.
My practice (hope) of keeping things positive
As a photographer and blogger writing on the spiritual aspects of everyday life and self-care at Rise This Day, I receive routine feedback from social media sources, emails and the like, from personal questions which I enjoy getting to those selling snake oil, so I try to be careful just what I allow in and what time of day I read and respond, etc. Here’s what works for me most days, including personal practices, favorite phrases, to mindsets and mantras that I try to follow day-to-day:
The day begins with gingerly (think old) making my way downstairs for tea. Next, I check the weather (I’m a rower in our nearby harbor several times during the week) and then I slide, or rather stumble, into checking out each day’s Daily Question at Gratefulness.org (that’s a plug!) then head out to either row or attack the machines at the local gym. (Not buff, just desperate!)
But back to Keeping things positive each day: When confronted with a sudden issue, I ask myself: “Who owns the problem here?” Some things we need to deal with, some things we don’t. Some issues we can maneuver around differently, some things we back off from, and some hassles were never ours to deal with in the first place. Don’t pick it up, I say to myself!
If the matter seems daunting and other options are available I try to remember to ask myself this question: “Do I want to die on this hill today?” If I can remember to consider this question for myself, which I don’t always do because people ask and expect me/you to engage, if I pause and figuratively look at myself “dyeing on this hill,” it helps me to gather my senses and sometimes reconsider engaging at all.
For three decades I was a youth advocate (like social work) working with children, teens and parents. I kept a little sign suspended over the phone on my desk that said, “Don’t’ fix anything!” Some days I remembered to look up and some days I didn’t! The days, and there were many, that I didn’t “look up,” I later regretted being a central agent in the so-called “fix” that oftentimes didn’t last long.
As a reminder to myself to keep things light, especially around all things spiritual, I remember the quote (but not the author at the moment…sorry) who said, “Those of you who proclaim to have the Truth are annoying to those of us that do!” Of course I have no idea what the “Truth” with a capital letter means any more than the next person, but I like the way that the phrase reminds me that what I may know is a speck among the masses of many.
And when I wonder what it is that I should be doing next in my life that is of service to other folks around me, it helps me to take within the words of The Reverend Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) who said, “Have thy tools ready. God will find thee work.” Sometimes I sit and think and sooner or later I realize that God is in charge here and not me!
And then when I’m joyfully feeling fulfilled in doing Spirit-led work it helps to remember a phrase I read on a wall some years ago while attending seminary, “Wearing a halo can stink to high heaven.” I have encountered a fair number of good people also doing “God’s work,” (whatever that means), who spent far too much time polishing and adjusting their halos.
Enough said. This is why I have been thinking lately about keeping things positive and adding a few new tricks into my every day toolbox of life. We will see how the mini-course at S&P works out… (And it’s not too late for you on today’s date to jump in! Check it out.) Now let me end with two playful and yet meaningful favorite quotes of mine below!
Text and illustrations (no relation, btw!) by K. Lee