I heard Brené Brown speak at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church a few years ago before she became well known and Oprah’s friend. I remember several examples she gave that night. The one that keeps bouncing back into my thoughts is about joy and how some people do not anticipate the worst in every situation. Brown explained that some people seem to have a file of joys to draw from and that is how they look at life. I immediately thought, “I wish I had a joy file.”
We are programmed to think negatively. Unfortunately we anticipate tragedy. We are hard wired to shift in that direction. So it does take an effort to be a strong and resilient person. I think the effort is worth it.
Karen Lawson, MD, is the Program Director for the Health Coaching track, Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota. She says, “Resilient people are able to experience tough emotions like pain, sorrow, frustration, and grief without falling apart. Resilient people do not deny the pain or suffering they are experiencing; rather, they retain a sense of positivity that helps them overcome the negative effects of their situation. In fact, some people are able to look at challenging times with optimism and hope, knowing that heir hardships will lead to personal growth and an expanded outlook on life.”
Once in a while—a great while—I think I’ve discovered the secret of how to ‘retain a sense of positivity.’ Doubts seep in and I fall back into old mental patterns
I’ve learned after many years to catch myself, to catch my mental messages and shift to different thoughts.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that our thoughts link to one another. You have a thought that triggers another thought that leads to another. You can break the chain of thoughts.
- First step is to become consciously aware of the first thought in the chain.
- Plug in one of your joy thoughts.
- Dwell there. Train your mind to savor the pleasant thoughts.
You may find it helpful to create a “Joy List.” With a little effort you can change from a worrier to a resilient, happy woman.
Examples from my Joy List:
A hug from my husband
Hearing my grandchildren
Recalling meditating on a boulder in
The feeling I get when a grandchild runs into my
Listening to our Calder Church
Seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy
“Positive emotions have a scientific purpose—to help the body recover from the ill effects of negative emotions. Thus cultivating positivity over time can help us become more resilient in the face of crisis or stress” according to Lawson.
I’m working on this even as a Tough Old Bird so I know it will make a difference for you. Let me know how it works for you.
I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. I am a Certified Professional Coach with Fowler International Academy. I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving, published in July 2015, is available for purchase on CreateSpace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online.