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ABCs of Positivity: O Is for Opportunity

Opportunity – How good are you at recognizing opportunities? How good are you at creating opportunities? We’ll look at why some people seem to get all the breaks – and why others often feel like they came in second – or last.

ABCs of Positivity: O Is for Opportunity

Have you ever noticed that the “lucky” people in your life just seem to keep getting luckier? The luckier they are, the luckier they become. It’s almost as if their luck is self-perpetuating.

Thing is, luck probably has fairly little to do with it. I’m willing to bet that those lucky people have honed their ability to notice – and leverage – opportunity. When there’s a chance, they take it. When fate offers them a gift – whether it’s a chance meeting, an unexpected phone call, an email they wouldn’t normally read, an introduction, noticing an ad online – they accept the gift and make the most of it. They’ve become adept at noticing openings and walking through them.

Reasons to Improve Your Ability to Recognize Opportunities

(1) More chances to enrich your life experiences

(2) May be an opening to discover new talents or develop new skills

(3) Could lead to work you love – or a bigger paycheck

(4) Will give you a sense of accomplishment – especially if you have to reach or grow to pursue the opportunity

(5) The chance to do something bigger – or go further – than you could on your own

(6) Developing the skill of seeing opportunities will make you more aware overall

My friend Connie Kadansky is an international sales trainer who teaches people to get over Sales Call Reluctance™. I haven’t been through one of her trainings in a while, but she used to say something to the effect of, “Opportunities are never lost. If you pass one up, the person next to you will take it.”

It’s not enough to recognize opportunities – you must then act on them! Steps might include:

(1) Practice seeing the opportunities around you. One of my marketing mentors was brilliant at seeing opportunities I just couldn’t see (before I learned how). It was as if he’d hold up a blank sheet of paper and say, “Look at the 37 opportunities here,” and I couldn’t see any of them. Then, I began to practice.

Start with knowing what you want: More love, better relationships, to leave your job to pursue your passion project. Get as clear a picture as possible of what you want. Then figure out what you need to get there. (Reminder – there may be things you don’t know you need, but they – or the opportunities to attract them – will show up as soon as you get moving.)

Remember that the things you need may show up in unexpected ways or unlikely disguises. This is where your developing skill at sniffing out opportunities will come in handy.

(2) Be sure to find the balance between viewing the people you meet as potential helpers (opportunity) and viewing them only as tools you can use to advance your own causes (opportunism).

(3) Decide if and how this person, place, thing, or idea can actually help you achieve your goal – or whether it’s just a beautiful distraction.

(4) If it’s a person, determine how best to approach them. I generally advise my clients not to go in with your hand out – but come at the situation by finding a way the partnership is beneficial to both you and them. Sometimes, however, you just need to ask for a favor. Discern the best way to approach your person and ask, unashamedly. Remember that you’re no worse off to have them say no to you than you were if you didn’t ask at all. And every time you ask is practice for the next time.

(5) Sometimes people are busy – they may say yes and then nothing… Nudge them or gently remind them. You will be the one to determine how far to take this. For some people a second nudge will propel them into action. For others, it may take still another tickle. Still others may have committed to you without thinking and would now like to retract their offer – they’re trying to “ghost” you and would really prefer you quit bothering them. How much do you want what you think this person can bring to the table, and what are you willing to do to get their attention? Of course, there is Napoleon Hill’s story about Edwin C. Barnes and his determination to work with Thomas Edison. Barnes refused to quit pestering until he not only got Edison’s attention, but was able to go into business with him.1

(6) Make a plan and execute it.

(7) Express your gratitude.

As with so many of the words and concepts we are exploring through the ABCs of Positivity, some people are more naturally gifted at recognizing opportunities than others, but it is a skill you can develop. Whatever you do, avoid getting into a space of jealousy or envy when you see others taking advantage of the opportunities before them. Change your perspective to view those people as examples of what is possible. Let them motivate you to begin sensing, seeing, and acting on your own opportunities.

What you think about you bring about (WYTAYBA). Rather than feel bad about someone else’s success, create an afformation2 like this: “Why am I so good at seeing opportunities?” or “Why does opportunity always find me?” Then use it. Repeat it to yourself again and again as a reminder of where you want to focus your attention.

Here’s to keeping your eyes open and making your own luck!

1 From Think and Grow Rich

2 An afformation is similar to an affirmation – but it is formed as a question. When you ask your subconscious mind a question, it immediately goes to work to answer the question.

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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ABCs of Positivity: N Is for Navigation

Navigation – How we move through life determines, in large part, what we experience. Navigation can pertain to driving or piloting instructions or use of an app or website. It can also relate to how we move through the world, both literally and figuratively. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there, but as the Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”

ABCs of Positivity: N Is for Navigation

Navigation is movement with a plan. You know where you want to go, and you have instructions for how to get there. According to Merriam-Webster, navigation originally had more to do with getting ships, aircraft, and spacecraft from place to place and included the method for determining their position and course, along with the distance they traveled. This makes sense when you consider the root of the word, navis, is Latin for ship.

Once upon a time, navigation was associated with map-reading. In the technology age, the art of map-reading is a lost – and largely unnecessary – skill. My son’s birthfather amazed me with his precision at reading a map. “OK, just ahead is a small hill, then the road will curve to the left.” Whatever he said was exactly what we experienced. These weren’t words he was reading – just the pictures he was easily able to interpret into words I could understand when I was driving.

While not the genius my son’s father is at map-reading, I’m no shlub and almost always manage to get where I intend to go in reasonable time and fashion. I was on a cross-country trip a number of years ago, staying at a small motel in Colorado. I must have had my map out in the motel lobby, because I remember the lady working the counter mentioning to me that she didn’t understand maps. She had never been taught to read one. That stunned me. How could a person reach her mid-40s without an understanding of how a map works? I explained to her that you’re following codes, usually numbers or letters – but that the colors of the lines matter, too. She nodded like she understood, but I’m guessing it might have taken a few lessons for the information to sink in.

Today, we have devices to navigate for us. That doesn’t keep some people from getting hopelessly lost. You still need to know right from left and north from south. And devices are only as good as the people who program them – so occasionally the device is wrong. Which is why map-reading may still be a skill to aspire to, in spite of technology.

Sometimes the GPS has incomplete data. Maybe an accident has just occurred so traffic on your normal route is backed up for miles. Or perhaps someone neglected to update the database to indicate a construction zone. In these cases, you may need to make adjustments to your route. Or think about the times you choose to ignore the GPS commands and take a different route. You hear that little beep-beep as the GPS recalibrates to catch up with your impromptu decision.

We also use the term navigation to describe moving around an app or a website.

One of the key components of navigation is knowing where you are, relative to where want to go. It’s pretty hard to give someone directions when either of those two variables is missing.

We can easily extrapolate from literal navigation, getting oneself from place to place, to the much broader sense of figuratively navigating through life. Consider your goals, for instance. Think of one thing you’d like to achieve in the next year. Now consider how you’ll move toward achieving that goal. Your plan to achieve the goal is your map – and the movement toward your goal is your navigation. The only way you will be able to set out toward that destination is by knowing what it is and where you’re starting from. And just like the GPS recalibrating, you may need to make alterations to the plan or pitstops along the way. The one thing that doesn’t change is the destination – or goal – you have in mind.

Some people are strict navigators, seemingly having every detail of their lives planned. Others are more like a twig in a stream, wandering wherever the water takes them. Neither is right or wrong – we are who we are. There are benefits to both ways of living – and most of us find ourselves somewhere between these extremes.

What can you do to become a better navigator of your life?

  1. Take an inventory of how much information you need to take action or make progress. The more tuned in you are to your intuition, the less written down planning you may need to do. It may help to realize that you can move forward with the information you have, as incomplete as it may be. And understand that every decision doesn’t need to make perfect sense.
  2. Make decisions based on actual facts and information, not on what-ifs or any sort of disaster thinking. It’s always good to have a Plan B, but you can’t get to Plan B without a Plan A.
  3. Make choices and plans based on where you are right now – fall back on mindfulness. I’m reminded of the suggestion that people on a weight-reduction regimen should keep only the clothes they can fit into at the moment. Having those skinny jeans around for “some day” can actually work against our goal by continually reminding us that we’re not there yet.
  4. Trust yourself to make good decisions. Perhaps you have a history of questionable decisions, so this isn’t innate for you. Time to tune into your intuition. Perhaps try a mindfulness meditation. Create some affirmations to help your brain and heart understand that you are a good, reliable decision-maker. Take it in small steps.
  5. It’s OK to ask others for their input – but understand you are driving the ship. Some people who’ve been where you are will have great advice that might help you steer around an unseen iceberg. Others may feel threatened that you are trying to make a change in your life and do whatever they can to keep you in status quo. Remember, this is your goal. You’re the captain of your ship, so you’re the only one who can determine which mental passengers you allow onboard.
  6. Chunk big goals down into small, manageable tasks. If you’re working on a one-year goal, make a timeline for your goal by breaking it down into 12 segments, one for each month. Then break those medium-size goals into smaller weekly goals. Then do the same for daily goals.
  7. Be sure you’re taking action daily. Sometimes we can get off course (a form of procrastination), yet convince ourselves this other action has something to do with our goal. When you notice that happen, celebrate the fact that you caught yourself getting distracted. Give yourself time to indulge a bit. And then bring your focus back to your bigger goal.
  8. Reassess regularly. Take time to review your goal and consider your navigation plan. Are you moving ahead? Are you coming across a number of unexpected roadblocks? How  do you need to revise your plan so that you can still navigate toward your goal on your original timeline?

Are you on the other extreme, wishing to figure out how to let a little of the starch out of your shirt so you can live a slightly less structured life? Here are some questions you can ask yourself around loosening up your structure a bit.

  • Where can I fit more flexibility into my day?
  • Do I have to set the alarm clock? If so, do I have to get up as early as I always do, or is there some give in my morning schedule?
  • Can I change my lunch routine? Eat something different? Eat in a different place? Eat at a different time? Eat with different people?
  • Is what I’m doing resonating with me? Am I doing it out of habit? If it’s habit, is the habit serving me? Is it something I’m doing on autopilot?
  • How much am I enjoying my present moment? What would I be doing instead if I could do something I truly enjoy?
  • Is there a way I can change up my exercise routine? Exercise at a different time? Exercise in a different way? Exercise in a different place?
  • Can I put more variety into my wardrobe? Would that make me happy? What would I wear if I could dress according to my mood, rather than how I feel I should look?
  • How many of my decisions are based on what I think people expect of me? What would change if I made decisions based on what I want, without caring what people think or expect of me?

Whether it’s reading a literal map, knowing your way around a keyboard, or moving easily through life, navigation is an essential life skill. The more we can master it, the more positive our experiences will be.

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: M Is for Mindfulness

Mindfulness – Much like joy, this term is a bit on the nose, too. It’s a touchstone word today that is almost overused – and yet it is such a key (see what I did there, pulling in another ABC of Positivity?) to a positive life experience that we’ve got to say a few words about it. I’ll talk about my own daily mindfulness practice and how it came to be.

ABCs of Positivity: M Is for Mindfulness

It seems like you can’t throw a rock today without hitting someone who’s talking about the importance of mindfulness.1 Why would we throw a rock at them? I don’t know – and if you can find the explanation for that phrase, I’ll give you a cookie (or some equivalent Fairy Positive gift). The point is that mentions of mindfulness are everywhere, and for good reason.

Mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools we have for overcoming negativity and staying healthy in body, mind, and spirit. According to a post from ThriveGlobal.com, the marriage of mindfulness and positivity has the power to optimize our well-being and elevate our compassion and resistance to stress and negativity to allow us to stay healthier and happier. THIS is precisely the mission of Fairy Positive.

Mindfulness means staying focused on the present moment, consistently aware of our thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings of the body, as well as our surrounding environment – seeing all through a peaceful, nurturing lens. When we are mindful, we are attentive only to today, this hour, this minute, this moment – rather than grieving or regretting the past or worrying about the future.

PositivePsychology.com describes mindfulness as:

“… the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”

Though I’m not much of a fan of the Dummies brand, Dummies.com has an explanation for mindfulness that I really like: “Mindfulness is a translation of the ancient Indian word Sati that means awareness, attention and remembering.” I think the remembering piece gets overlooked a lot when we consider what mindfulness means and how to practice it.

While some people may be innately more mindful than others, the good news is that mindfulness is a condition one can achieve with practice. It involves awareness of self and others, and the ability to step back and take an objective view of what we learn from that awareness.

Many seem to recommend meditation as a mechanism for achieving mindfulness; it definitely is one way to do it. But it’s not the only way.

Mindful.org offers 7 steps for beginning a mindfulness practice:

  1. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
  2. Be sure you’re sitting in a stable position you can hold for a while.
  3. Set a brief time limit of 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Notice your body. Feel the chair/floor under you. Feel your clothes against your skin. Feel the temperature. Notice any smells and sounds.
  5. Feel your breath and follow the sensation as you breathe in and out.
  6. Notice when your mind has wandered and bring your attention back to your breath.
  7. Don’t judge yourself or obsess when your mind wanders – just return to your mindfulness practice.

I have three comments about these steps:

ONE: While this process is similar to meditation, the goal is a bit different. You are trying to stay focused on the present moment. With meditation, the goal is really not to focus on anything (although you may use a word as a mantra or pay some attention to your breathing). I have heard meditation described as focusing on the space between your thoughts.

TWO: I would say these steps are geared at a very specific kind of mindfulness. In my view, mindfulness need not be practiced while sitting in a quiet room. If you’re truly living life mindfully, you will be able and ready to practice mindfulness any time in any place.

THREE: You can also practice mindfulness by stopping during your day to simply look around and take in your environment; take a deep breath; and give thanks for the moment and all it entails. Then proceed with your day – until the next time you take a mini mindfulness break.

Often when I am walking, I find myself reaching out to touch the things around me: tree bark, brick or concrete walls, smooth and shiny surfaces, flower petals, fabrics. It occurs to me now that this may be one of my personal methods of mindfulness.

My husband and I were the beneficiaries of a wonderful house left to us by his grandmother. One of the amazing things about its location is the greenbelt behind our house. Sometime last spring, I was out walking on the greenbelt, and I was called to mindfulness. I spent longer than usual walking a path I often walk with ease, paying attention to every detail. How my clothes felt against my body. The weight of my ponytail on the back of my neck. The feel of the slight breeze against my skin. The sound and feel of the dirt path crunching under my shoes. The sounds of the birds and the water rushing in the stream. The smell of the stream and the freshly cut grass. The greenness of the grass juxtaposed against the whiteness of the buildings. The only sensation I could not really account for was taste. This walk was more than a year ago, and yet I remember every detail because I made a point at the time of committing it to memory so I could recall it later.

We can all have mindfulness moments like this at any point in our days – we don’t have to be out walking in nature to do it.

Since that time, my husband and I have begun a three-part daily mindfulness practice. We got married on St. Patrick’s Day 2011 and recently celebrated the 12-year anniversary of our first date. Even though I had been in relationships with addicts before and I realized John was a problem drinker fairly early on in our relationship, he hid the severity of the problem from me for a long time. Last year, on August 3, he hit another car in the local grocery parking lot, resulting in a DUI. We were both immeasurably grateful that the accident was minor, with no severe injuries, and eventually the DUI charges were dropped for lack of evidence. But to say it was an enormous wake-up call is a severe understatement.

Because John was so freaked out the day after the accident, and I didn’t really have any other advice to offer, I suggested that we light a candle and give thanks for as many things as we could think to list. The next day, though we were both a little calmer, we did the gratitude exercise again. And then again the day after that. And the day after that. Soon it morphed into the combination of a daily gratitude and affirmations/intentions session, and before long, we added a 15-minute quiet meditation. We were talking one day about wanting to focus on improving our immune systems and overall physical health, so we also added a 5-minute silent meditation where we dedicate the time to our health. I described that part of the meditation in my post: H Is for Health.

This daily practice has helped both of us achieve a sense of calm, appreciation, and much more positive perspective than either of us had ever experienced before. On August 3, 2021, John celebrated one year sober – the longest he’s ever gone in his life. He did it using a behavior modification program, without AA or rehab. And to this day, we are grateful to the other driver. That man probably doesn’t know it, but he may have helped save John’s life. We include him regularly in our mindfulness practice.

The order of our mindfulness practice is:

  1. 5-minute silent meditation focused on health
  2. Taking turns verbalizing our gratitudes and intentions for the day
  3. 15-minute silent meditation

The whole thing takes about 30 minutes and we try to do it the first thing in the morning, but some days we don’t get to it until later in the day. What I love is that we both look forward to it. There’s no drudgery or grumbling. We just sit down, light the candle, set the cow timer, and we’re off.

We’re all human, mind you, so none of us is perfect at mindfulness – nor should that be our goal. Even with our daily meditation practice, John and I still have our moments – thankfully, though, they are much fewer and further between.

The act of staying present benefits us all in myriad ways, including improving our physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. In fact, the benefits of mindfulness greatly overlap with the benefits of gratitude – and all the other ABCs of Positivity, for that matter.

What steps will you take to practice a bit more mindfulness today?

1 Even The New York Times Magazine did this piece on mindfulness in 2019.

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: L Is for Love and Logic

Love / Logic – I tend to be fairly center-brained, meaning I balance my emotional, arty aspects with precision and problem-solving skills. Knowing when to use love and when logic is needed is an art many of us can learn.

ABCs of Positivity: L Is for Love & Logic

When it comes to handwriting analysis, the slant of one’s letters is indicative of emotionality. Using a 90° angle as your point of reference, straight up and down would indicate a person fairly devoid of emotional connection, meaning they’re probably extremely logical – like Spock. The further to the right the handwriting slants, the more the individual bases their decisions on emotion – and the less they tend toward logic. Writing that slants to the left could mean an introverted / antisocial person, or a leftie.

There is no right or wrong – we are who we are. But the people who write with a slight rightward slant tend to be the ones who get along with the widest variety of individuals because they can connect based on logic, when necessary, or emotion if that is called for.

Our words today, love and logic, while seemingly opposite in nature, are both important when it comes to living a positive life. Certainly there are times when love should be our overriding emotion, the one from which decisions are made. But if firefighters and surgeons, for instance, were to base their split-second decisions on emotions versus relying on their training and logic, emergency situations might have many more tragic endings.

Likewise, there are times when logic is called for – but sometimes we need to follow our hearts to the right conclusion.

I remember hearing a teacher I know talk about a situation that had occurred in her classroom the day she was telling this story. One little boy – a “known troublemaker” – was being closely monitored because he’d been acting up a lot. Common sense told me he had problems at home that weren’t being addressed – but that’s for another post. This particular day, the school had arranged for a few major league baseball players to come visit the students. Rather than going out on a field trip, the special event was coming to them.

Our little boy – let’s call him Steven – was trying hard to behave, but his emotions got the best of him and he acted up again, pretty severely. So as a punishment, he was the only student not allowed to go meet the ballplayers. My teacher acquaintance viewed this as a victory – she’d finally had a chance to put Steven in his place. This was a 50-year-old woman, a mother, a long-time teacher who had won awards. My jaw was on the floor. How could she have been so blind and missed such an amazing opportunity to help this little boy? This kid – the one who was not allowed to meet the sports heroes – was probably the one child who needed most to meet them.

I think of this as a situation where both logic and love were lacking. In my research for this post, the first page of results for “love and logic” all pertain to parenting books, classes, and skills – so it appears I’m not the only one who believes a bit of both are called for in these kinds of situations.

Love allows for compassion – we can put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Logic allows us to solve the problems – the other person caused a problem and now I must fix it.

Love is a crazy broad topic – as there are so many kinds of love and ways to express and experience it. For the sake of this post, let’s agree that all are important, but we’re really focused on the general feeling or sense of love for self and others. You may have heard this described as agape love. Stemming from the Greek, agape is love that focuses on goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the person (or pet or place) receiving the love.

Guess what. The way to experience and express more agape love in your life are the exact same things we recommended yesterday to experience more kindness:

  • Smile more often.
  • Say please and thank you, and mean it.
  • Listen, without assuming.
  • Speak truthfully.
  • Stay in neutral instead of forming judgments.
  • Give without expectation.
  • Receive gracefully.
  • Take a moment to genuinely care about the person next to you.

If you’re strong in love but feel you would benefit by strengthening your logic skills, here are a few things to try:

  1. Make time for creative pursuits. This may seem counterintuitive, but creative pursuits require the integrated use of both the right (emotional) and left (logical) sides of your brain.
  2. Ask questions about things you don’t know or understand. Why does the sewing machine keep getting stuck? Why do my tomato plants do better on one side of the garden than the other? Do the research to find the answers.
  3. Spend time socializing with other people – especially those who operate differently from you.
  4. Decide to acquire a new skill. Fix your own sink clog. Change a tire. Sew a button on a shirt. Reupholster a chair. Attach a soundbar speaker to your TV. Learn a new sport.
  5. Take some time to analyze your thought process. How do you move from one thought to another? Consider the potential outcomes of some of your recent decisions. How might things have turned out if you’d made a different decision?
  6. Read in subject matters you don’t usually read.
  7. Find some logic puzzles online and solve them. Start with the simple ones. If you’re stumped, look at the answers and reverse-engineer the situation to discover how to arrive at the solution.

Sometimes logic shows up as common sense – and there seems to be an overwhelming shortage of that right now. But alternately, sometimes love shows up as common sense – and we seem to be dealing with the aftermath of our collective forgetting how to love first and question, accuse, argue second.

You can make a powerful, positive difference for yourself and the others in your life by just slowing down and taking the time to discern whether each situation calls for love, logic, or both.

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: K Is for Keys and Kindness

Keys / Kindness – I started with kindness, but as I imagined the idea of kindness, I was still noodling on K words and the concept of key popped into my head and would not be silenced. While keys literally open doors,  kindness opens figurative doors. So kindness is a key. You’re gonna love the logic of this post.

ABCs of Positivity: K Is for Keys & Kindness

As with many of the themes we’ve touched on thus far in our progression through the ABCs of Positivity (as well as those we have yet to discuss), some people have a more natural bent toward kindness. For others, it’s an effort to be kind. In my experience, kindness flows from the belief that the Universe – and by extension, our world within it – is a good place, a safe place, a place of abundance. It’s understandably difficult to feel kindness when you perceive the world as hostile, angry, and/or dangerous.

Our feelings and perceptions tend to mimic our experiences – but we sometimes forget that our feelings actually play a huge role in what we experience. You may have heard the story about the two brothers, one a pessimist and the other an optimist. Dad sees that too much of either could become a problem for his sons, so he sets out to “cure” them. He provides one with every toy imaginable; to the other, he gives a roomful of horse manure. The boy who receives all the toys complains that he’s seen them all, they’re cheaply made, and none of them interest him. The boy who receives the manure grins from ear to ear, responding, “With all that manure, there has to be a pony in there somewhere!”

Can we scientifically link optimism to kindness? Maybe.1 Regardless of the science, the correlation seems straight-forward.

We really do have a choice in how we respond to every situation – but quite often we must overcome years of conscious and unconscious programming if we want to shift from a more negative perspective to a more positive one.

Conversely, practicing kindness – even when it’s not your go-to position or native baseline – will lead to a more optimistic view of the world. The kinder you are, the more receptive people will be to you, leading you to a shift in the lack perspective that’s been telling you it’s a dangerous, angry, harsh world out there. Kindness is a key that opens all kinds of figurative doors.

A key can be a literal device that opens an actual door; the word also has a number of alternate meanings:

  • a button you tap on your computer, device, or phone
  • the solution to a puzzle
  • a list of words that explains a group of symbols or abbreviations, as in a pronunciation or decryption key
  • a list of the explanations of the colors or symbols on a map
  • a lever pressed to make a tone on a musical instrument like a piano
  • one among a system of tones in music
  • the free-throw area on a basketball court
  • a small, low-lying coastal island

How many of those alternate definitions for the word key are also helping things, devices or concepts that aid us in one way or another?

The depth and breadth of the concept of keys is one of the reasons I include it in the ABCs of Positivity. Keys help us open doors – literal and figurative, solve puzzles, decrypt codes, read maps, make music, use our computers, and more. I am reminded of the title of Stevie Wonder’s 18th studio album, Songs in the Key of Life, as all of these kinds of keys assist us as we move through life. Kindness can and should be a key we use every day.

There are a few simple things you can do to express and attract more kindness.2

  • Smile more often.
  • Say please and thank you, and mean it.
  • Listen, without assuming.
  • Speak truthfully.
  • Stay in neutral instead of forming judgments.
  • Give without expectation.
  • Receive gracefully.
  • Take a moment to genuinely care about the person next to you.

Kindness is a key over which you have a great deal of control. You can decide how much kindness you want in your life; how kind a person you want to be; what kinds of people and experiences you want to attract. One of the most remarkable things about kindness is that it seems to be contagious. The kinder you are, the kinder others will be in response. Let’s start a wave of kindness that ripples across the planet, those of us who believe in Fairy Positive. We can be the antidote to the harshness. We have that kind of power.

1 https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness

2 https://www.lifehack.org/338775/6-effective-ways-bring-more-kindness-into-your-life

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: J Is for Joy

ABCs of Positivity: J Is for Joy

Joy – Seems kind of on the nose, but joy is a lovely emotion that deserves its own exploration.

Though the two emotions are often conflated, joy differs from happiness in that joy tends to be self-generated, while happiness is more of an external experience. What makes some people more naturally joyful than others? Genetics play a role, but it doesn’t explain everything. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, genetics account for perhaps half of our natural disposition toward joy. Life circumstances account for another 30 percent, and 20 percent is of our own choosing – which means we each have significant control over how joyfully we live our lives.1

Of course we’re all different. So the things that bring us joy, the degree to which we experience that joy, and the duration our individual joy lasts will vary from person to person. But one thing about joy is universally true.

While we each experience our emotions individually, we humans are all connected. So although joy might be a solitary experience, it’s actually quite important that each of us pursue a joyful life. When you live your best life – your most joyful life – you contribute to the overall joy of all humans. Same is true of every emotion, so it just makes sense that we aim for the positive ones.

Naturally joyful people share a few characteristics:

1.     They set realistic expectations and manage them well. Joyful people understand their own skills and talents as well as they do those of others. They set realistic expectations so they’re not disappointed when things don’t go their way. They don’t see letdowns as failures, but as learning opportunities. They are not perfectionists because they know there is no such thing.

2.     They seldom take things for granted and express gratitude regularly. Naturally joyful people find delight at every turn and are grateful for gifts, large and small. A friendly person at the checkout stand will delight them as much as an unexpected gift.

3.     They value people and experiences more than things. While a joyful person can be as happy as anyone to drive their dream car, they generally prioritize people and experiences more than material items. They realize that money is an energetic exchange, and money alone cannot buy happiness.

4.     They focus on the positive. Joyful people can certainly have a down day – but they generally don’t stay down for long and seldom waste time worrying about things they can’t change or that won’t matter by the time the sun comes up tomorrow. They understand the power of their thoughts and they nourish their mental gardens with healthy food.

5.     They understand that self-care is not selfish. Naturally joyful people are self-sufficient. They don’t depend on others to make them happy; they know they that others really don’t have the power to make them feel anything. They own their own feelings. They also understand that in order to be of service and available to others, they must first practice good self-care.

6.     They are adaptable and open to new experiences. Joyful people welcome change – or at least don’t freak out when change happens, and they are able to make the best out of almost any situation. They’re willing to try new things and love the change to explore. They recognize opportunities and will seldom miss one, unless it’s by choice.

7.     They live at a relaxed pace. Though they may have fast-paced jobs, joyful people habitually take their time, rather than always being in a rush. They have time in their day to relax, meditate, read, spend time in nature, take a bubble bath, and relish good conversations.

8.     They can see and appreciate others’ perspectives. Joyful people have an almost uncanny ability to see things from someone else’s vantage point. The ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes means they seldom judge or have unrealistic expectations. They are respectful of others and let their compassion guide them.

9.     They’re thirsty for knowledge. Joyful people tend to be life-long learners. When a question arises, they are inspired to seek an answer. When a problem arises, they look for – and usually find – a solution.

10.  They usually have a plan. Joyful people tend to live with purpose and a plan. But they’re adaptable – so they’re OK if the plan goes sideways. They can think on their feet and make the most of an unexpected situation.

11.  Their only competitor is themselves. Joyful people understand that comparing themselves to others is a waste of time that will often lead to envy or an unwarranted superior outlook. They know the only person they’re really competing with in life is themselves, and they have a continual desire to improve all aspects of their lives.

12.  They are not easily offended. You’ll never catch a naturally joyful person looking for a reason to be offended. They are able to laugh at themselves, and their sense of humor extends to most circumstances.

13.  They live in the moment. Because they don’t dwell on negative emotions, joyful people tend not to hold onto the past or worry about the future. Yes – they plan, but then they let it go. Whatever will be will be – and they will be fine with it.

14.  They’re self-aware. This is a special skill most joyful people possess. They are aware of their place in the world, their surroundings, and how their words and behavior affect others. The don’t hold grudges – if there’s a problem with someone, they seek to fix it rather than let it fester.

If you’d like to bring more joy into your life, reread this list. Find one characteristic of joyful people you may find difficult and make a concerted effort to improve it. Do some research: read other blogs; check YouTube for guidance; buy a book or find a magazine article; ask someone you know who seems to have mastered that trait.

Most importantly, keep practicing.

Journal about your experiences – what you’ve tried, what has and hasn’t worked, what encourages you, why you believe this is an important trait to master. What you focus on expands. Your very effort of pursuing this area of self-growth will cause you to improve.

1 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-reason-some-people-are-happier_n_5661d1d5e4b072e9d1c5ed80

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: I Is for Initiative and Intuition

A person who takes initiative is going to be a lot more successful if they can tap into their intuition while taking action.

ABCs of Positivity: I Is for Initiative and Intuition

Initiative / Intuition – It’s my contention that a key ingredient to success is resourcefulness, along with its first cousin, initiative. Resourcefulness is the ability to troubleshoot and problem-solve. Initiative means moving ahead without waiting to be told. Another important I word is intuition, that inner knowing or ability/willingness to trust your hunches. We’ll tie them together in this post.

It has long been my belief that perhaps the most essential ingredient in a good hire is a person with initiative. Yes – there are positions in which rule-followers are certainly more fit for a job, but generally, being able to think for yourself, question decisions that don’t make sense to you, and take action without waiting to be told are beneficial to the whole enterprise. Of course, this can go sideways when a team or staff member takes too much action without authorization or pushes back for no reason or a bad reason. But we’re here to focus on the positive – why initiative is a good thing.

Those who find it easy to take initiative tend to have a few characteristics in common:

  • They are action oriented, ambitious, and work well in teams.
  • They are decisive, goal-oriented, and generally have a positive outlook.
  • They are open-minded, good communicators, and know how to keep their egos in check.
  • Although they’re risk takers, they know when to admit a mistake.
  • They are optimistic and will follow up on the actions they take, rather than starting something and walking away from it.
  • They are big thinkers and life-long learners.

So what, if anything, does initiative have to do with intuition? Intuition is our inner knowing. The idea of intuition can strike some as a bit woo-woo, but whether you believe in it or not, we are all intuitive to some degree – and mostly that depends on our willingness/ability to believe in our own hidden genius. Rather than always looking outside for advice or help in making important decisions, what if we went inward and consulted with our subconscious mind who really has all the answers we seek? All of us have this ability – some of us have just done a better job at tapping into it and honing our natural intuitive skills. It is quite possible that the biggest thing standing between us and our intuition is our willingness/ability to release the programming that has taught us to focus only on what we can perceive with our five primary senses.

One of my first coaches taught me a simple exercise for making a decision. Scrap the pro-con list and take a few minutes to get quiet. Then, be sure you are in an emotionally neutral position about the decision you’re trying to make. You’re neither giddy with anticipation, nor full of dread. You’re neutral about it – whichever decision you make will be fine. Once you’ve reached that neutral position, listen to your inner knowing. You are NOT using your mind to think of those rational pros and cons. You are listening to your subconscious mind that already has all the answers. You will know what you’re really moved to do – and the answer might surprise you, particularly if it is counter to what you consciously think you should do, your friends and family think you should do, your church or community would expect you to do. Try it with a small decision and see what happens – then test this process for bigger life-events.

A person who takes initiative is going to be a lot more successful if they can tap into their intuition in the process of taking action. I remember taking a training as a temp in the advanced features of Microsoft Office. One gal in the class kept going ahead of the instructor without listening, then continually fouled up her document and had to ask for help correcting it. Did she take initiative? Perhaps – but where did it get her? What was her reasoning? Did it benefit her? Did she use any intuition in doing so?

Intuition is your inner compass.

Intuition is our built-in compass. When we listen, it will help us stay on track and head in the right direction. You may have experienced it with small things, like getting a feeling you should move the mug from the edge of the table before it fell. Ever ignore that feeling and then think, “I knew I should have moved the mug”? Perhaps you had an inexplicable urge to take a different way home from work or the grocery store – and the alternate path took a lot longer. But you listened to that urge and later heard there’d been a three-car pile-up near an intersection your normal route would have taken you through. Those are examples of your intuition at work.

People who are very grounded in third-dimension reality may have a difficult time believing in or understanding intuition. They may feel the need to look for scientific proof to explain every occurrence. How do you explain “just knowing”? It might be difficult to explain why you cancelled that client meeting at the last minute – but if your boss were to see the client on the news later that day, arrested for embezzlement, he’d probably begin to understand.  

Benefits of Developing Your Intuition

  1. You will be better able to recognize and act on messages from your inner voice.
  2. You may find it easier to access your creative side.
  3. You will have a better sense of people and find the quality of your relationships improving.
  4. You will experience less stress because you’ll worry less.
  5. If you’ve been feeling lost or out of sorts, you may discover your true life purpose.
  6. You may decide to seek out new experiences.
  7. You will be able to stand firm in your decisions because you know they are right for you.
  8. You will experience more overall joy and zest for life.

Tips for Developing Your Intuition

1.   Learn to recognize your intuitive messages. This will first require that you want to listen. Then, get in the habit of noticing your hunches and feelings. Maybe you have an odd thought that comes as a quick image. Maybe you get goosebumps or a shiver down your spine. Maybe it’s just a sense of knowing. Listen to those messages.

2.   Take regular time for quiet or meditation. Your intuition is your subconscious talking to you – and you have to make room for that in your mind and in your life. Meditation is an excellent way to do this. A regular practice of even 10 minutes daily will help quiet your thoughts and turn off the distractions enough to listen to your inner voice.

Meditation will help you hone your intuition.

3.   Make a point of tuning into your intuition regularly. This might be when you get up in the morning – listen to hear if there’s something you need to attend to. Perhaps it’s as you get in the car – should you take a different route or stop someplace unplanned?

4. Ask for guidance. Yes, after a fashion, you are talking to yourself – but your inner knowing is connected to the wisdom of the Universe (or Spirit, Source, God). When you are specific about what you wish to know, the answers will become clearer faster.

5. Keep a journal. As you become more adept at listening to your inner voice, more information is likely to come to you. Your thoughts may be rapid, and you might not remember the important details if you don’t write them down. Your journal will also give you space to explore the information you are receiving and decide whether/how to act on it.

6. Take action on the ideas as they come. I have found that I seldom act on any idea when I tell myself I’ll get back to it later, and I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. When you receive the hunch to make sure the car windows are closed, take care of that before the downpour begins.

7. Trust your growth as you become more adept at listening to your intuition. Like any skill you wish to develop, it will take practice to develop your intuition. Taking the initiative to begin today will help you move from wishing you had a better sense of what might happen next to actually knowing.

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: H Is for Health

ABCs of Positivity: H Is for Health

Health – Yep this is a BIG topic. I’ll touch on the ways I focus on my health and why our mindset has so much to do with how well our bodies feel.

When my coaches and mastermind team asked me why I was starting Fairy Positive – what its mission and message were – I realized that it has a great deal to do with health. We humans are at our best – healthiest, happiest, most productive – when we are calm and at peace. Yet our culture (I can only speak for Americans) seems to be in direct opposition to our peace, doing everything it can to keep us stressed out, fearful, angry, and worried. Because stress and anger and worry hinder every aspect of our health, we must find ways to relieve that stress, refocus our anger, and release worry. Those are the missions of Fairy Positive.

Have you ever wondered why so many people you know seem to be so sick – the current pandemic aside? I noticed a number of years ago that cancer is a storyline in virtually every TV show and many films. Please know, my intention is not to diminish or belittle your experience if you have been affected by this disease; my father-in-law and my sister passed away from it within 15 months of each other. But conventional wisdom seems to be that it’s increasing, it’s coming for us, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I staunchly disagree. There is absolutely no reason we must accept ill health as a done deal.

We all have sovereignty over our bodies – we have control over what we eat, what we drink, how much we sleep, how much exercise we get, and most importantly, what we focus our attention on. This means we have so much more power and self-determination when it comes to our health than we may realize – and certainly more than the media and Western medicine would lead us to believe.

A couple years ago, a close friend of mine received an early diagnosis of breast cancer. She was weighing all her options, one of which included surgery. I went with her to meet with the surgeon – and that meeting confirmed what I had only assumed prior to that. Surgeons get paid to cut – it’s their bread and butter. But there have to be instances when radical surgery is not the best option for the patient. Yet this surgeon’s administrator did everything she could to terrify my friend into agreeing to a double mastectomy. For a small cluster of cells caught pretty much as early as diagnosis was possible. This woman dismissed any idea of alternative modalities as hocus-pocus that “have never worked once for any of our patients.”

My friend sought the opinion of another surgeon, who suggested that a lumpectomy might be all that was necessary – along with a new drug that was showing promise in reducing tumors of all sizes. Between those steps, changing her eating, and working on her mindset (including much needed forgiveness work), she recovered fully and has been free of any signs of cancer for more than two years. She listened to her body, listened to her own inner wisdom, listened to Source, and made a decision that helped her heal easily and without the invasive and life-altering option initially put in front of her.

We all have the ability to do the same – to choose to be healthy.

Another friend of mine, a medical doctor who once owned and operated a couple of urgent care centers, gave a presentation where she passed out a bunch of Band-Aids to each person in the audience, along with some Sharpies. She asked us to write on each Band-Aid the illnesses and health issues that plagued us. Then we were to stick the Band-Aids to our bodies (over our clothes). Once were covered with these adhesive words, she reminded us that the illnesses are just labels and we are not our illnesses. The reason she used Band-Aids was so that we could peel them off. There is no reason each of us – in spite of the diagnosis or perceived health challenge – cannot be perfect health. Not perfectly healthy – but perfect health itself.

She is one of the reasons that during my daily meditation, I go through every system of my body that I am aware of and repeat the affirmation: I am perfect health. My brain, memory, mind, and entire nervous system are perfect health; my heart, blood, capillaries, veins, arteries and entire circulatory system are perfect health; my lungs, diaphragm, and entire respiratory system are perfect health, etc. And for the systems I don’t know, I include them at the end in the summary: all 70 trillion of my cells work in concert for my good and perfect health. If this is something you think might work to help you focus your mind on health, please feel free to use or adapt it.

There are many other things you can do to improve and preserve your health, some of which run counter to much of American culture. While I do not have a perfect track record with these things, they are my goal and I strive daily to improve.

(1) Turn off the news. Stop listening to the fear-mongering and perpetuation of all the reasons life is dangerous, scary, stressful, worrisome (fill in your own low-vibration word of choice).

(2) Limit your screen time and/or carefully curate your social media feeds. For some of us, social media is a part of our business plan, so turning it off altogether isn’t realistic. However, all of your social platforms are designed to give you exactly what you ask of them – so if your feed is full of negative news, worrisome stories, and alarming announcements, that is what you’ve been clicking on, commenting on, and sharing. It’s actually quite easy to start seeing more positive posts: respond to those and ignore, hide, or block the ones that create stress in your life.

laugh more

(3) Laugh more. Norman Cousins, a journalist and professor, famously recovered from a debilitating and life-threatening illness of the connective tissue by incorporating as much laughter as possible into his daily routine. Science is now validating laughter as a way to stay healthy.

(4) Eliminate white foods (sugar, flour, pasta, bread, potatoes) as much as possible. Sugar has been my greatest challenge. I do well for a while minimizing it – and then all of a sudden, I look up and I’m having a cookie every night after dinner. Additionally, get more vegetables – particularly the green, leafy variety – into your diet.

(5) Drink plenty of water. Failing to drink enough water can cause better-known physical effects, like headaches, muscle cramps, dry skin, and dizziness, but it can also severely affect your cognitive function. For women, a loss of just 1.4 percent of their normal body fluids, say after a challenging workout, can impair both their mood and concentration. It takes a 1.6 percent decrease in fluids to cause similar effects in men.

(6) Eliminate or limit your caffeine intake. We’re inundated with caffeinated drinks and conditioned to think either we need them or they help energize us. Neither is true. My husband was a multi-pot per day coffee drinker when he decided to quit, cold turkey. He had a pretty shaky first week, but has been largely caffeine-free since then. He’ll have a cup of joe on the occasional times we go out for breakfast, but for someone who used to go through a 24-ounce bag of coffee beans in days, he’s cut down to almost none. From less anxiety to improved sleep to better absorption of nutrients from your food, cutting down caffeine will enhance your overall health.

(7) Get enough sleep. The proper amount is different for everyone, but science suggests we need between 7 and 9 hours of slumber to get enough quality REM sleep to be restorative. This is another one I am working to improve.

(8) Exercise regularly. You’ve heard it like a record on repeat, but most Americans Calendar with Smiley Face Stickerscome nowhere near the recommended amount of exercise to remain healthy, at least 1/2-hour, 5 days a week. Fewer than a quarter of us get up and move on any sort of regular basis for an extended enough time to raise our heart rates. Fewer still follow a weight training regimen. Here’s the thing: the human body was designed to move. That’s why we have long limbs – we were not designed to sit at desks or on couches for long periods every day. My husband and I have the luxury of working with a personal trainer virtually twice a week, which definitely helps keep us accountable for exercising. But we also walk or hike on our off days, bicycle, and play the occasional game of tennis. I also use tiny smiley face stickers as a reward system – every day I work out for at least 20 minutes, I get a sticker. Yep –  just like in kindergarten, I light up when I count those babies at the end of the month. My suggestion is that you find something you love to do so that exercise doesn’t feel like a chore. Just get off the couch more – you’ll feel better and your heart will thank you.

(9) Focus on the positive. Read delightful stories. Listen to music you love – and dance with abandon. Find a hobby. Journal to release the anxiety. Go to the craft store, thrift store, or dollar store and get some art supplies and make something – regularly. Develop some affirmations to help you refocus your attention when you find yourself feeling anxious, fearful, or stressed out.

If you need more ideas about any of these steps, YouTube offers a wealth of information. Just search for the subject you want and you’ll see a plethora of ideas, from funny things to watch to fantastic exercise videos to every craft tutorial under the sun.

Your health is in your hands – make the most of it!

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ABCs of Positivity   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

ABCs of Positivity: G Is for Gratitude

ABCs of Positivity: G Is for Gratitude

Gratitude – In this post, I will focus on the gifts we experience when we learn to make gratitude a regular practice.

I have long considered gratitude the gateway emotion: unless and until you can feel authentically grateful, it’s quite challenging to feel any other positive emotion, even love. I’ve known for years the power of gratitude, but its effects still amaze me on a regular basis.

Get in the G Zone: Develop a Gratitude Attitude So You Can Win in Life

A couple years ago, I attended a business conference about how to build a brand, most specifically through podcasting. I’d written a book and been thinking about starting a podcast about gratitude –  this seemed a perfect opportunity. Conference attendees had the chance to pitch their topic to a slate of about 40 influential podcasters, the idea being that if you pitched well, you might receive an invitation to be a guest on some of those people’s shows.

Although I had been rehearsing my pitch for a few days prior to traveling to the event site, once I arrived, met some of the other attendees and heard their topics, mine seemed so basic. Practice gratitude – you’ll be happier. It just didn’t seem like there was much to it. I didn’t have a list of steps to offer or a remarkable processes to teach or phenomenal case studies to cite. All I could really say in the 90 seconds I had was something to this effect:

Did you know that grateful people are generally healthier and wealthier, they sleep better, have lovelier relationships, and are generally happier overall? The problem is that gratitude is not most people’s baseline. Most people default to lower vibration emotions like anger, fear, guilt, blaming, shaming, and victim thinking as their go-to feelings. The good news is that gratitude can be learned. I know this because I’ve lived it. I am a birthmother in an open adoption. I was 27 when I found myself pregnant – and even though things with my son’s birthfather were challenging and the adoption was probably the most difficult experience of my life, I found a way to stay grateful. Gratitude can work for you – and your listeners – too.

I had very low expectations and was astounded at the reaction when more than 20 of those influential podcasters said they’d love to have me on their shows, and even more people wrote me notes to tell me they thought my pitch was excellent, that they use gratitude with their own clients, and/or that gratitude had been enormously powerful in their lives.

It sounds so simple – start looking around to find things to be grateful for and then express that gratitude on a regular basis, and your life will likely change immeasurably for the better. And yet it’s true: gratitude works.

While it is not a cure-all, gratitude can positively impact many, many areas of our lives. Here are just a few ways gratitude can make a difference in your life:

  1. Gratitude makes us happier.
  2. Gratitude makes us more likeable.
  3. Gratitude makes us feel good.
  4. Gratitude makes us healthier.
  5. Gratitude can give our career a boost.
  6. Gratitude strengthens our emotions.
  7. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.
  8. Gratitude improves our personality.
  9. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.
  10. Gratitude reduces materialism.
  11. Gratitude enhances our spirituality and faith life.
  12. Gratitude increases our self-esteem.
  13. Gratitude improves our sleep.
  14. Gratitude increases our energy levels.
  15. Gratitude helps us embrace exercise.
  16. Gratitude helps us bounce back after injuries or setbacks.
  17. Gratitude helps us overcome suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
  18. Gratitude helps people reduce and overcome addictive behaviors.
  19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.
  20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.
  21. Gratitude helps us relax.
  22. Gratitude enhances our intimate relationships.
  23. Gratitude improves our physical appearance.
  24. Gratitude helps us make friends more easily.
  25. Gratitude deepens existing friendships.
  26. Gratitude increases our patience.
  27. Gratitude increases our productivity.
  28. Gratitude increases our goal achievement.
  29. Gratitude improves our decision-making.
  30. Gratitude makes us better givers.
  31. Gratitude gives our lives purpose.
  32. Gratitude may help us live longer.

A little more than a year ago, my husband and I experienced a life challenge that was a wake-up call to both of us. In the aftermath, we were shaken and relieved and worried about what might come next. I suggested that we sit down and each list some of the things we were grateful for in that moment. We did it – and it helped us calm down. So we did it again the next day, lighting a candle before we started. Then we did it again the next day, adding a few minutes of meditation to close out our gratitude/affirmation session. And thus began a daily gratitude practice that Mickey and I have done every day since.

While gratitude has always come fairly easily to me and I would try to explain the many benefits to Mickey, they were still mostly theoretical to him. Once we began this gratitude practice that we do together every day, he began to see the benefits because he experienced them first-hand. He is overall much calmer and slower to react. He’s genuinely happier. And our relationship has improved tremendously.

Email lo@fairypositive if you’d like a list of ways to begin a gratitude practice so that you can experience more of these incredible benefits.

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ABCs of Positivity   A  B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABCs of Positivity: F Is for Forgiveness

ABCs of Positivity: F Is for Forgiveness

Forgiveness – It’s hard to question the fact that forgiveness can lead to a more positive life experience, but sometimes it’s challenging to get there. We’ll explore why and how to let go and move on.

The act of forgiveness means releasing the desire to punish someone for a (perceived?) wrongdoing. When we forgive, we commit to overlooking the offense and open the possibility of reestablishing a positive relationship with the person who done us wrong – the idea being that when you forgive, you dissolve all ill feelings toward that person.*

Put in those looming terms, it’s surprising any of us ever forgive anyone.

I’m going to save the topic of our society’s seeming addiction to looking for reasons to be offended for another post – and come at this from a sense of true hurt and the desire to feel better, which is what forgiveness ultimately allows us to do.

That’s what a wrongdoing – perceived or intended – does, right? It hurts us. It may be our feelings that get hurt. Perhaps we have been physically harmed. Maybe we’ve suffered damage to property. Things are relatively easy to replace – unless they are irreplaceable. Regardless of the episode that caused us pain or distress, the healthy response is to eventually want to feel better, and the act of forgiveness opens that door.

A good friend of mine who is smart person, seemingly tuned in to spiritual ideals, has a bizarre (to me) fascination with the idea of revenge. Quite the opposite of forgiveness, revenge means retaliating against someone who has wronged us with intent to inflict an equal amount of pain. This friend has spoken with surprising regularity about her desire to exact revenge in response to hurts she has experienced – or advised me to do so when I’ve shared stories about people who have caused me distress.

Never having been a grudge-holder, I doubt I’d find much solace or satisfaction in getting back at someone. I do occasionally stomp around in the kitchen when my husband hasn’t loaded or emptied the dishwasher for a number of consecutive days. We don’t have any formal assignment or schedule – whoever doesn’t cook generally cleans up, but not always. That’s probably the extent of my feelings of wanting to get even.

But what if you were severely hurt or injured or traumatized? What if someone committed a serious offense that turned your life on its ear, even momentarily? What do you want from that person? An apology, perhaps. Maybe an explanation. But do you want to hurt them back? And what if you do? Do you act on that impulse? I hope not – but how do you get over the anger? How do you calm down in that person’s presence? It’s worse – by far – when the person who hurt you is someone close to you. How do even consider resuming the relationship you had prior to this episode or event?

Because we’re human, we all experience both sides of the forgiveness paradigm. Sometimes we’re the ones who need to do the forgiving. Sometimes we’re the ones who are seeking forgiveness.

How to Forgive When It’s Particularly Challenging

(1) Realize it’s really not about the other person. Forgiveness means allowing yourself to move forward in your life. Holding on to anger and hurt is bad for you – spiritually, mentally, and physically. You get to set the terms of your forgiveness, but if it’s authentic (that is, if you really mean it), you actually have to commit to letting the hurt go – for yourself and your own peace of mind.

(2) You don’t have to do it instantly. It may take some time to grow into the idea of forgiving a person who’s hurt or harmed you. Maybe you do it in degrees. Practice some breathing techniques so you don’t freak out when you remember the incident. Create an affirmation to replace “I hate them” if you experience intense anger when you think of that person.

(3) Are there pros / cons to forgiving? Again, this really comes back to you. Are you benefiting from staying angry or sad or frustrated? Are you every day nursing the wound or are you really trying to feel better? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to forgiveness. Maybe that person is always a jackass, so this behavior wasn’t surprising, though it was still hurtful. Maybe that person is the one you love most in the world, so the hurt seems unbearable. Either way – they will benefit from your forgiveness, but you will benefit more.

(4) Are you able to empathize with the other person? Can you put yourself in their shoes? Do you know why they did what they did? Have you ever done something similar – even if it was a very long time ago or the degree of severity was quite different? Is that person repentant? If they are truly sorry for what they did, is there still a benefit to holding onto the anger and resentment?

(5) Were you in any way culpable? Sometimes we give people permission to treat us badly. We probably don’t realize it at the time – but we can set the other person up to misbehave when we don’t put our foot down early enough. I know I set the tone for some really challenging behavior with my son’s father. He asked me out for New Year’s Eve, and when I hadn’t heard from him by 4 p.m., I called him – instead of making other plans and being unavailable. It was our first date, and I taught him right then that I would put up with a lot of bullshit. Before I could forgive him, I had to learn to forgive myself.

(6) Realize that forgiveness means you can focus on the present and let the past go. Holding onto anger and resentment means we are stuck in the past. Reliving the hurt again and again is akin to self-torture. Would you do that to your pet or your child or your best friend, make them relive a painful episode again and again? Then why would you want to do it to yourself?

Reaching for forgiveness instead of revenge or holding a grudge can be life-changing. If you want more peace and ownership of your feelings, forgiveness is a really good way to get there.

Maybe you want to forgive, but you feel like you just can’t let it go. You can. You can breathe through it. You can pray. You can meditate. You can use an affirmation. You can do something to distract yourself. You are powerful – and you can allow forgiveness to work in your life.

I recommend two books on the topic of forgiveness:

The Grief Recovery Handbook, by John W James and Russell Friedman. This is a great resource if the person you need to forgive has passed away.

Radical Forgiveness, by Colin Tipping. This will give you the tools for lasting forgiveness.

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* https://www.etymonline.com/word/pardon

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Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.