Look for the Good

img_3836My husband and I always put up the artificial Christmas tree in our living room on the weekend after Thanksgiving and we usually leave it up through the first week in January.  That means that each year, the tree is in our living room for at least six weeks.  It’s a beautiful tree, lit with old-fashioned bulb lights (I finally found a few sets that work) and loaded with antique ornaments.  Still, almost every day I find it necessary to make some small adjustment:  an ornament moved to a “better” spot, a green light swapped for a red, a branch tweaked an inch or so to the left.  Because no matter how pretty my Christmas tree may be, whenever I look at it, I somehow manage to see some small imperfection that needs to be “fixed.”

Sadly, my habit of focusing on the negative extends far beyond Christmas decorating.  Sometimes the animal shelter where I volunteer is very full of dogs, and occasionally there are days when we don’t have enough people to get them all out for their daily walk.  And when that happens, I don’t head home from my volunteer shift feeling good about all the dogs that I did help that day.  Instead, I fret about the dogs that I wasn’t able to walk, and often end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

The same thing even happens with my blog.  If a particular post gets 200 views and 43 likes, I am usually quite happy with that, at least for a little while.  But then (and I’m almost ashamed to admit this) I often start to wonder just exactly why those other 157 people who viewed my post didn’t like it.  Which is just ridiculous, especially when I remember that when I started my blog I didn’t think I’d ever reach 200 followers, much less write a post that had that many views.

Of course I am very aware of all that is positive, beautiful and good in my life, and I do appreciate it.  I really do.  It’s just that I have this annoying habit of paying far too much attention to the things that aren’t going right, to the goals that I’m not able to accomplish, and to all those minor imperfections that are a normal part of everyone’s life.  And I really, really, want to stop doing that.

My husband and I just spent an unhappy couple of hours stringing some mini lights on the real Christmas tree that we put up in our basement family room.  We decided to try mini lights this year because they stay cool and are light-weight enough for this tree’s delicate branches, but I found them hard to work with because they don’t have clips to hold them in place.  We also had to replace an insanely tiny fuse and run back to the store for another strand.  Soon, we will hang the ornaments, and if I win the argument with my husband this year, we might even add some tinsel.

I am quite sure that the finished result won’t be perfect.  But I am equally sure that when we are done decorating this tree, it will be beautiful.  And I have made a solemn promise to myself that when I look at that tree, all I am going to notice is the beauty.  It may seem like a small thing, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

62 thoughts on “Look for the Good

  1. I don’t use tinsel anymore, but when I did and the dogs would go by wagging their tails, well I need not explain more. I worry about my blog the same way you do. If they viewed it, was it by accident? Or why didn’t they like it? Or even worse, did they click like without reading it?
    I’m with you. Let’s try to focus on the positive and on the blessings we have, and will, receive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My husband won the tinsel argument again this year, and I’m not really all that sorry, for the reason you mentioned. It looks pretty, but it’s a mess, really.
      And it’s so weird how I can find something to worry about with my blog, no matter how a post does! Especially since the main point of my blog is just to enjoy the writing and not worry about the stats…. Something about technology and social media brings out the inner middle schooler in me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha I always check the stats. Not quite obsessively, oh ok, obsessively. Besides the combination of low self-esteem and narcissism, lol, I do like to reflect about what made one post more popular than another? Was it the writing? The topic? Time or day of the week? So it isn’t always worrying about being “liked.” Plus I set short-term and long-term goals for the blog. Do you do that? Wow…I really wandered far from tinsel!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think my blog is more personal, and so my goals are more personal as well. I try to improve my writing as I go along, and learn to write more honestly as well. I do check the stats alot. For some reason, I can’t seem to help myself there. But I pay more attention to the views and the likes than I do the follows. Because I know I have many regular readers who don’t follow it (they just wait to see my newest post on my Facebook page) and I have many more followers who never read it. (I have over 800 followers, but my posts only average about 130 views, I think. My math skills aren’t that great. And a “view” doesn’t mean they actually read it, and people who read it in their emails don’t count as a view!) Still, my followers have grown much faster than my actual readers.
          But honestly, as long as I enjoy writing it and some people are reading it, I’m happy to keep chugging along!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Good idea, positivity is here, though often hides through scrutiny. Stepping back and viewing the whole scenerio helps me, especially during this season. Much success as you enjoy moments, magic and memories!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your struggle with seeing the positives sound a lot like my wife. I believe that women like my wife, and probably you too (I only know you from your blog but I’m pretty sure anyway) put so much time and effort into making your home a beautiful and living space, and having taken care of children with such great care when they were young and growing up, have great expectations of yourselves. Holly’s standard is very high when it comes to taking care of the home and me and if she achieves anything less than (almost) perfection she is disappointed and beats herself up for the negatives (2%) rather than seeing all the positives (98%). It’s a double edged sword this quality but I’m sure, like me with Holly, those around you appreciate all you do. Like I tell Holly, cut yourself some slack and realize how great you are!

    Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Michael! I think you are correct. The problem is often that I set the bar too high, in an effort to please everyone and do everything perfectly. And that never happens! I think for some people, particularly women, it takes a real effort to just accept things as they are and to be satisfied with doing our best. I’m working at it, and I hope Holly listens to your advice as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Michael above. It is very important to recognize the good you do for your family and yourself. But ii is equally important to be honest with our self-assessment and assessment of our fellow human beings. This brings me to the point you made about your blog, a very fine blog indeed. When I read a post and I find its content inspiring, then I will give a like. And if the post has something to say that touches my heart, I will often write a comment. But then there also the times where I just don’t have the time to read the posts of those I am following. I am sure that there are many like me. So don’t worry. You are maintaining an outstanding blog! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Peter! I know I do the same thing. I read as many blogs as I can, and I try to respond to the ones that I find either I relate to, or they are just so well written that I have to say something back. But I know I also miss many good posts, just through sheer lack of time. And I honestly don’t expect readers to read, like and/or comment on every post. It just seems that I have a knack of always focusing on something that I can worry about, and that’s not a good way to live my life. So I have decided to make an honest effort to stop doing that. For my own good, and for everyone else’s too.
      And thanks for your comment on this blog…your advice is good and gladly taken!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Love having the Christmas tree up! My kids put it up – its a bit of a tradition which I hope continues (we’ll see). I suppose because they’ve done it, I don’t tend to look for flaws. On the times that I’ve done it I’ve seen the flaws alright, just like you, but after a while I just forget and enjoy its presence in our house, and then feel slightly bereft when it’s finally taken down.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel the same way after we take our tree down. Because it really is beautiful, flaws and all. Learning to see the beauty in flaws is important, I think. I love that your kids help put yours up, and I’m sure that does help you focus on it’s beauty! Sometimes my mom helps put up our basement tree, and I feel the same way about that one. Thanks, Terry!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point, Svet! Sometimes it is good to notice the negative, so that we an improve. I think my problem is just that I focus on it a little too much. I think I need to find a better balance, perhaps. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann, I think it’s human nature (for some of us humans anyway) to focus on the negative. I’m the same way. I might have a positive impact on 30 students one week, but that one student who left my office less than satisfied is the one I focus on. I could go to the gym twice in a week and also to a yoga class, and I’m beating myself up for not going three times and to two classes. I truly believe looking at the glass half empty is a habit, and all habits can be changed by replacing them with new habits that serve us better. The fact that you have self-awareness, and a willingness to put yourself out there, is half the battle. Plus, I think you are far more positive than you think you are. I know this from reading your blog 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Kim! I think you are right, we are in the habit of looking for the imperfections and fretting about them, rather than letting ourselves enjoy all that we actually did accomplish. Helping thirty students, exercising regularly, walking lots of shelter dogs, and dang, I have two trees up and decorated, two weeks before Christmas. There’s so much that should make us feel happy and content, we just need to remember to focus on it. And all bad habits can be broken, sooner or later, I believe.
      Thanks for always being so supportive and helpful. You and your blog are a gift to so many people, and I hope you know that!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read each post through my email, so there is never a chance to “like” it. I don’t come over to the main site much at all. And, as I tried to “like” it this time, you have to sign in with your username and password, and that’s too much work for every blog I read. I enjoy what you write, and look forward to your posts, but apparently, you never know that….even to post this, I have to sign in…sigh

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ann, believe me, I’m just glad you enjoy the posts. There is no need to log in and hit the “like” button. The problem is that I tend to look for things to worry about, rather than simply appreciating all I have. And the “likes” aren’t at all an accurate predictor of who is reading or enjoying my blog, because some people just randomly “like” posts without reading them, in the hopes that people will respond by visiting their blog and hitting that like button. And other people, such as yourself, are reading the posts in their email, and the authors never know. Which is perfectly fine. Honestly, it’s always a happy surprise when someone says to me, “I really liked that last post,” and I had no idea they had read it. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Like

  8. If it’s any consolation I’ve never got anywhere near that number of views or likes for any post, though after a year and a bit of blogging I have now managed to crack the magical 200 followers barrier. I think I must have a lot of followers who liked one post, one time, and that was it. So I am always grateful when one your regular comments pings into the little box.

    But I know what you mean about the ones that are read but not liked – you do tend to think hmmmph! Was it that bad? I do aim to ‘like’ anything I have found interesting enough to click on and then read – or at least skim – all the way through to the end. The only times I wouldn’t ‘like’ is if I really seriously objected to what the person was saying (and sometimes even then, if it was well written or amusing) – or if I forgot to! : )

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know! There is that part of me that thinks, “Wow, lots of people read this one!” And then that other part that thinks, “but it got less likes than my previous post, so maybe it wasn’t as good.” It’s just plain silly, because all of us who blog regularly know the stats aren’t an accurate reflection of how often our posts are being read or enjoyed. I try to read and “like” as many blog posts as I can, but I know I miss some good ones and forget to hit that like button often as well. I think the trick is just to write what we want to write, enjoy the response we do get, and let that be good enough. Which goes against part of my nature, but I’m working on that. Thanks, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice post. Two comments:
    #1. I do that thing with the Christmas tree too – but only because I enjoy “fluffing” the tree until it is perfect in my own eyes. I LOVE it! 🙂 I leave it up as long (or longer) than yours, too, so I keep adding favorite ornaments, etc., filling in little nooks and crannies until I can barely see the tree beneath them by the time others would say that it is past time for me to take it down. I’ve done it for decades, and I’d feel punished if somebody ever convinced me that I had to stop.

    #2. I tackled this topic a few years back, and you might enjoy reading about why you do it from a brain-based standpoint. Check out “Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?” (use the search box at the top right of my site) — i.e., How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??

    Sometimes understanding WHY is the first step to loosening the grip of perfectionism or black and white thinking.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Madelyn! I will read that post, because I think it’s an interesting topic. And I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who does that, so maybe it is something that humans are hard-wired to do. Sort of like our need for an “enemy,” which explains so much of our current political situation and, of course, the entire sports industry.
      And I like your take on the Christmas trees: you’re right, my rearranging isn’t always all about perfection. Honestly, I kind of enjoy tweaking the decorations, even weeks after I put the tree up!

      Like

      • I’m not sure anything effectively explains our current political situation – except maybe a horrid and pervasive case of public confirmation bias unknowingly exploited by a self-aggrandizing hate-monger.

        And I’m not sure it’s an inborn need for an enemy as much as a need for certainty on the way to feelings of safety & security. In my experience, the rabble rouser pointing the finger is likely the sure-bet where identifying the enemy is concerned – but, once roused, mobs aren’t known for making effective decisions.

        I’m trying to enjoy the time between now and January 20th to its fullest – so let us tweak those trees! THAT, at least, is something we *can* control. 🙂

        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Like most people above, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself. Nobody can do everything perfectly all the time. I do recognise some of the scenarios you outline though – I used to get upset if someone made a negative comment or complained about the library. However, the longer I am retired, the more I accept that I give what I can as a volunteer and do my very best, but someone else is responsible for whatever project it is, not me. That’s a lovely feeling! Similarly, when I ran a professional blog I obsessed (just a bit) about its stats whereas with my personal blog, although I love that other people read it and make comments, i don’t look at the stats page much at all. It is fundamentally for me to record my travels and I’d still do it if no-one read it ever again! (Though I hope that doesn’t happen, obviously, please don’t go away!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • No worries, I enjoy your blog too much to ever stop reading it!
      And you are right, there is really no reason to worry about the stats unless we are trying to make money from our blogs, which I’m not. Also, the more I understand the stats, more I realize that they don’t really tell me that much. A “view” doesn’t mean a “read.” I don’t get notifications of people who read the blog in my email, and I get many “follows” from people who don’t read my blog at all, but are simply fishing for people to follow their own blog. So the best thing is to just ignore the stats as you do.
      And in a broader sense, the best thing for me is to focus on what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong. Thanks for the comment!!

      Like

  11. Great post Ann.
    I always try to think of the glass
    as half full. But it’s not always that simple.
    Sometimes, it just feels half empty.
    Hayhoo, what can you do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, sometimes our best intentions get overshadowed by our feelings. But as you say, there’s not much we can do about that! And then I also realize that some of the best art (including your excellent poetry) comes from taking a good hard look at the negative things in life, so perhaps there is something to be said for not always focusing on the positive….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I think that it’s human nature to want things to be better, to try and have things looking as good as possible and to worry about things. You’re definitely not alone Ann. I can totally relate, even about the blog though I’m learning to just accept “what will be will be”. I will always read and enjoy your blog Ann because I find your writing and posts so honest and relatable.
    Let’s all focus on the positive. I absolutely agree xo 🎄

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t know why this post made me smile but it did and I’m guessing you’re wondering why it did also. Maybe because I think you’re a funny person. 200 views is impressive regardless of whether people push or even have the ability to push the button.
    But you’re right, you have to start somewhere and a Christmas tree is a good place to start.
    Maybe tinsel next year. It’s messy but it’s also our youth..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! That is why l like tinsel so much: it reminds me of the Christmas trees I had as a child, and those are always good memories. My husband didn’t have tinsel on his trees, so all he sees is the mess. (His mother “flocked” her trees by spraying on fake snow, and you have no idea how glad I am that he isn’t the least big nostalgic for that way of decorating a tree!)
      And you’re right, 200 views should make me happy, and so should the 75 views that some of my other posts get. It doesn’t really matter how many followers, views, likes, etc. a post gets, all that matters is that some people read it an enjoy it. And I’m especially grateful for people like you, who are always so generous with their time, their thoughts and the supportive comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. So funny! Sometimes no one likes my blog which I kept up after we closed our cupcakerie last December. I keep plugging away. Just like the want a be creative person and rebel I am. Teachers and writers know lots about persistence as do small business owners! And sometimes I have lost readers with my words, but keep on keeping on rules my day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the most important thing in blogging is to be true to your own vision of what you want your blog to be. If that occasionally costs you a reader, then I think that price is worth it. Good for you to keep blogging even after your closed the business!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, it is like submitting short fiction, poetry, etc…maybe about 50 and getting 2 published. A long road, but blogging is fun. We closed as my husband is recovering from cancer and he is now cancer-free. His heart is very weak though, so we closed due to this and shortened hours. The business was an enormous responsibility which I wouldn’t mind repeating someday but in a small town or smaller area than Tampa Bay. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

        • So glad your husband is cancer free, and I’m sorry that you had to go through all that. Running your own business is a huge responsibility, and I don’t blame you for giving up the shop. And yes, blogging is a lot like free lance writing, in that you put your best out there and just hope someone reads it and likes it.
          Take care….

          Liked by 1 person

  15. A lot of people (including me) share your propensity for focusing on the negative instead of the positive. But good for you for rededicating yourself to seeing and being more positive! I appreciate your interest in WordSisters!

    Liked by 1 person

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