Confession: I am not a natural optimist. Though I wouldn’t quite say I’m exactly a pessimist, I am definitely more of a realist, and optimism does not come easily to me. At all.
This realist attitude leads me to sink into negativity more often than I’d like. Even if I jump into my day swearing that “It’s gonna be a good one!,” I often allow petty, insignificant things ruin my original good intentions. Negativity was starting to have such an effect on my life last year (personally and professionally) that I even made “acting positive” one of my New Year’s resolutions. It’s something I’ve constantly been working on since, and now that school is starting up again, I want (and need) to make it more of a priority.
Here’s the deal. Some days can just be rotten. People can be nasty, traffic can be bad, work can be stressful, blah blah blah. Bad things, big and small, happen every single day. What I’m (very slowly) beginning to realize is that it’s how you allow these bad things to affect you that makes all the difference in the world.
For example, today was my first day back at school. Summer vacation is over, peeps, and it’s back to work I go. My friend Kristine and I, knowing that we allowed other people’s negativity (and our own!) to make us absolutely miserable for much of last year, decided to come into school today and maintain a positive attitude at all costs. I came in feeling mindful of my attitude, and I tried to remain mindful of it the entire day.
Did crappy things happen? Yup. Were some people rude? Indeed. Was I stressed out? Of course. But I tried to stay aware of every single one of these things and, more importantly, how I was reacting to them. Crappy things happened? I tried to come up with a solution. People were rude? I didn’t feed into them (or I ignored them entirely. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do). I felt stressed? I made a list of what needed to get done and, well, got it done. I also took a minute when I got home to think about all the things that went right today, instead of what went wrong. A sampling:
- I shared cookies with my team. They liked them!
- A co-worker whose daughter works for Under Armour brought me in a bag of free sports bras. Just because. They all fit perfectly, and I saved the $50 I was going to spend on a brand new UA sports bra this weekend (great timing, eh?)
- I found out that the PTSA is reimbursing us for $100 of school supplies this year, instead of the usual $50.
- We were treated to a free (and delicious) omelet breakfast.
- My classroom went from looking like a tornado blew through to looking like my classroom again in just a day.
- One of my co-workers went out of her way to deliver something I had been searching for, instead of just calling me down to her office to pick it up.
- One of my best friends got engaged this weekend, and I got to find out how it happened (and see a picture of her ring!) This is a couple that I love, and it’s so joyful to share in their happiness.
- Three of my favorite former students dropped in for a surprise visit. I adore them, and seeing them made me excited to start teaching again.
- I had a kick ass workout at the gym. I don’t know where my energy came from, but it felt fantastic.
And so on and so forth.
At the end of the day, not only did I feel like I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish (stay as positive as possible), I actually felt that today was a great day. Period.
Being a realist, I know that this attitude is hard to maintain, but seeing how a simple attitude change affected just one day so drastically makes me want to be mindful of it every day from here on out. I’ll be checking in periodically to let you know my progress!
Are you a realist, pessimist, or optimist? How does that attitude affect you from day to day? Any positivity tips you’d like to share? I’ll take any that I can get!