Positively Right

IMG_0709Have you ever had one of those dreams that seems so real you had a hard time convincing yourself it wasn’t, and the emotions you felt in the dream stay with you long after you wake up?  I once dreamed that my husband was cheating on me by dating the entire University of Iowa cheerleading squad, and also had the gall to tell me that it was “no big deal.”  I was so angry when I woke up that it was all I could do not to slap him.  And even though I knew it was just a dream, it still took me a few days before I quit glaring at him.

Which just goes to show how easy it is to get worked up about things that didn’t even happen and aren’t even real.  And sadly, I’m not just talking about exceptionally vivid dreams.  Or even all those annoying social media memes that are designed to generate outrage and anger, as dangerous as they can be to our emotional health.  What I’m talking about is much simpler:  how strongly our outlook (or our internal dialogue) can influence our mood and how we perceive the world around us.

When I’m feeling crabby, I have no problem finding things to fuel and sustain that mood.  A friend who is too busy to go to lunch with me is obviously tiring of my friendship;  the receptionist at the doctor’s office who doesn’t return a call right away must be incompetent; the driver who hesitates a bit too long when the light turns green absolutely has to be talking on a cell phone.  None of those things may be true, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling rejected, annoyed or self-righteously outraged.

It’s actually kind of scary how easy it is to react with very real anger and hurt to something that doesn’t exist anywhere except in my tiny little mind.  But the good news is that I can do something about it.

I can pay attention to that little voice in my head, and I can also rein it back in when it becomes too negative.  I can remember that most of the time, I honestly have no idea why people do the things they do and that nothing good can come from automatically attributing the worst possible motivation to other people’s actions.  And more importantly, I can remember that it’s almost always best to give other people the benefit of the doubt, at least until they have given me a good reason not to.

I used to think that people who believe in the power of a positive attitude were the sort of people who never really stopped believing in Santa Claus and who tended to buy into pyramid schemes with their spare money.  But the older I get, the more I realize that my attitude is not only one of the few things in my life I can actually control, but that the harder I try to keep it positive, the happier I’ll be.  And when I am happy rather than crabby, it’s just so much easier to also be patient, tolerant and most important of all…kind.  It really is as simple as that.

82 thoughts on “Positively Right

  1. Emotions fuel us. It is so easy to get caught up in an emotion with some negative energy. I struggle with this as I am a people pleaser. You are so right and I need to focus my energy on the positivity. Now that dream…I’d be throwing those look my husband’s way too 😉💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I couldn’t help it! But seriously, it is hard to stay positive when we care too much what people think. I have found that I can control my inner voice much more than I thought, and it really does help when I keep it positive. Sounds trite, but it’s true!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes Yes and Yes! Positive Attitude we learn is so important – it really affects our moods and everyone around us.

    And Yes I have had those crazy dreams and even similar to yours – LOL! They are hard to shake sometimes even though we know it’s a dream. Then you start wondering – well – what does that dream really mean – what is our subconcious trying to tell us. LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, I know! My husband couldn’t even look at a cheerleader for years…. Ha! But seriously, the older I get, the more I realize that I have much more control over my moods than I ever realized. And that is a good thing, because I don’t like being crabby and angry. It’s not the way I want to live!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had one of those crazy dream last night/this morning that stuck with me and had me feeling weird. I was back in college as an old lady in a dorm amidst all the young people and feeling very uncomfortable. Just silly.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so right…a positive attitude changes everything. Even if the morning starts out with things not going our way, it helps to kind of “re-start”. It also helps me to remember that although I cannot always change the situation or the behavior of someone else, I can change my response. I can choose whether or not it will ruin my day.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This is a great lesson on how to exercise positive thinking. I tend to be a positive person, but I’m not immune to negative thought, and I know how my “internal dialogue” can affect not just mood, but how I interact with the people around me. It can be hard to break out of that. Great post! (note the exclamation mark – part of my positive nature ;))

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL! I like that! When I’m feeling good, I use a lot of exclamation marks too. I never realized how negative my own inner dialogue was until I started listening to other people’s negative remarks, and I thought…why in the world would be want to operate off of that negative base? We don’t have to be that way, and life is so much better when we aren’t!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It can be hard, and for me what helped is realizing that I am only the center of my own universe, and not anyone else’s. Sometimes people do mean to hurt me, but most often, they don’t. The slight or hurt exists only in my own mind, and I just need to stop thinking that way. Once we adjust our attitude, the whole world opens up in wonderful ways. Thanks, Svet!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree with all of this. What’s helped me is to stop and figure out why I’m annoyed in the first place and then go from there because you’re right…there’s no reason the rest of the world should suffer because I’m in a mood.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! Often when I’m in a bad mood, there is a specific reason that can and should be addressed. Once I get past that, I can let it go and treat others they way I should treat them, and life is so much easier!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent thoughts. I find it’s easier said than done concerning controlling my thoughts and attitudes but I press toward the goal of being as positive and upbeat as I can; although I can’t do it on my own. That becomes part of my ongoing prayer life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely prayer helps! And I think all of us will still have some crabby days when the negative thoughts just don’t seem to want to go away. But as long as we are doing our best, and making sure that we’re not taking our bad mood out on others, then we’re moving in the right direction, I think. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s very true, which doesn’t necessarily make it easier to refrain from this kind of negative self-talk, unfortunately. I once read that our mind works like Google. What you put in is what you get out. I tried this once and entered “I hate life” into Google. Afterwards I did the same with “I love life”. The opposite effect the search results had on me was tangible. The first produced a knot in my stomach. The second lead to a sigh of relief. Since then I try to be much more selective about what I put into Google. And into my mental search engine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is a very good illustration! Sometimes I find that even social media can have my stomach in knots, if I am looking at the wrong posts (what is it with people who need to post that nasty memes all the time?). But I find that the kinder I am to myself, and the more I intentionally surround myself with positive things, then the better I feel…and act. So you’re right, we need to control our mental search engines as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with all of this. I often find my inner voice being very negative and have to try to give it a good talking to at times! It can easier to let it rattle on, but then it does me, or the people around me, no good at all. Once I notice the negativity I try to question why I’m feeling that way which can help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too! Sometimes there’s a good reason why I feeling so crabby or negative, and I need to address that. Other times, I think it’s just too easy to fall into the negativity and I simply have to make the decision to knock it off. Because that’s not the kind of person I want to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Loved reading your post, Ann- had dreams like that before too – waking up angry at husband and he says: “ I didn’t do anything” 😂 What’s tough that the cycle of such thoughts is difficult to break – I recycle them, and it’s sabotages my mood. Got to learn a better and faster way getting out of negative thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For me, talking about whatever’s bothering me tends to help, and so does writing about it. If I just think about it, it’s like the cycle that you describe and I can’t seem to move beyond it. And there’s nothing worse than walking around in a cloud of negativity each and every day!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Perhaps the easiest way to stay positive is to avoid the negative. Whenever anyone around here brings up the bad vibes of gossip or politics, I just say, “Hey, what about them there Vikings?” That gets everyone screaming and hollering – but at least it’s about something that it is okay to scream and holler about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your dream cracks me up! I’d be looking at my hubby with a glare as well…probably for weeks. I once had an extremely powerful dream in which my father, six months after he passed, let me know in no uncertain terms that he is still with me. I’d struggled with where he went after he passed; I could not find him and that really bothered me. I was pretty shaken when I woke the next morning. But, what I wanted to say in response to the rest of your post is this: I’ve come to realize that in this life, people behave according to what is going on with them, not you. The trick is keeping that in mind when we feel slighted or targeted. Great post, Ann.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! And that was an odd dream. What actually upset me most (in the dream) was not just that he was dating the cheerleading squad, but that he kept insisting it was no big deal since I was still his wife. And I really was mad for quite a while, even though I knew I had no real reason to be!
      I loved that story about your father. I had a similar dream after my grandmother died. I had a hard time with her death, and how she had suffered with a long illness before hand. Then one night I dreamed about her and she told me she was fine and that I didn’t need to worry about her any more. It seemed SO real. And it helped.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My husband and I have had this discussion many times… an offhand comment said when the person hearing it is tired, cranky, or just out of sorts, can be taken in the most negative light. If the person is feeling good – or even neutral – it’s just that: an offhand comment. We don’t have a choice how others conduct themselves, but we do have a choice in how we react. I think I might draw the line at my husband dating a whole squad of cheerleaders, though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, believe me, lines were being drawn in that dream…. But yes, you are so right. How we interpret the feelings and words of others has so much to do with our own mood and our own self-image. Which is something we can control, and are better off if we choose not to act on those negative feelings!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I honestly don’t think anyone can think positively all the time, and that’s okay. Sometimes life is hard and sometimes are negative feelings are nothing but the truth. What I have to watch is not getting into the habit of thinking negatively, because that colors how I perceive the world around me and not in a good way. So I try to deal with whatever is making me feel negative and then move on…toward positive things, if that makes sense!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very wise words Ann, we are all guilty of creating appalling scenarios in our head and the only thing we can control is our own attitude
    … your hubby must be a pretty fit fella to keep up with the whole cheer squad 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I always see it like the red car theory. That you never see a red car until you buy one then all of a sudden they are EVERYWHERE.
    It’s like when you are in a bad mood you are looking for things too get mad about to justify the mood.
    Trying to remain positive is so hard though, and the people who preach about PMA i think they do still believe in Santa too 😂 no one is that happy ALL the time without some form of medication!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! We all have negative feelings sometimes….we just don’t want them to become our normal, I think. And as others have pointed out, when we do feel angry or hurt, it’s often good to try to figure out why, so if there is a problem we can deal with it. That being said, I have found that the more I make an effort to turn off the flow of negative thoughts and internal comments, the better I feel. So I guess it is a balance between reality and self control. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Two things came to mind when I was reading your post, Ann. Even though you are angry at someone, ultimately you are the one that suffers the most from the burning anger deep inside you. The other thing is the eternal confusion with appearance and reality. With a proper and mature attitude we can always find out the reality of a situation before we jump to conclusions. Interesting what you had to say about your dream! Another great post that offered a lot of food for thought and reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree on both counts, Peter! And you are right, with a bit of effort we usually can discern the difference between appearance and reality. It’s bad enough to be angry all the time, but being angry over something that isn’t even real is even worse. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Loved this! All so very relatable in every way. I’m a very emotional person and easily fuelled and so u I totally get how often the mind works in overdrive. Yep, I would’ve been fuming after that dream too. Crazy aren’t we? 😏 Tine to spin it all around and embrace the positive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is, Miriam! I think those of us who are emotional do have to remember that just because we are feeling a certain way doesn’t mean that we are responding to reality. I guess that is where self-knowledge comes in, and also the knowledge that we are so much happier when we focus on the positive. But….I was still angry at my poor husband after that dream!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. My brother, Phil, is a deacon and gave a homily on Sunday using a metaphor asking what if there were TSA screening on the way to heaven. Essentially, he talked about letting go of the stuff you aren’t allowed to take. It’s almost 12 minutes, so probably too long to sit and listen to. But if you could have it on in the badkground while you’re cooking or something, I thought you might enjoy it. Jusdt copy and paste this into the browser and it will show up.

    Is there TSA screening on the way to heaven?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh, I only know those dreams to well! They’re really quite scary, aren’t they? And it’s so hard to shake them off afterwards.
    And I know exactly what you mean by how easy it is to fuel those emotions. Supposedly it should just be as easy to fuel the other ones as well, but I find it quite hard to be honest. Hope your positive attitude will rub off just by reading your wonderful posts.😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I think humans are almost wired to go toward the negative over the positive! It seems that those feelings and perceptions can come so easily, without much effort on our part, and yet we have to be intentional about being positive. But I guess most good things require some effort…. Good point, Sarah, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Had to giggle at your dream, Ann, and at your reaction too. Thinking about your husband… well, that’s getting me started again.

    I once had a similar dream about my husband, except that in mine he was determinedly telling me he was going to take as his second wife a colleague’s wife. I’ve never met nor seen this colleague, much less his wife but in the dream, she was a much, much older woman with a dour disposition. My husband said he “had to take care” of that woman because her own husband had thrown her out of his life.

    I was understandably upset about the dream; my husband was tickled crazy. And he still is to this day. Never misses an opportunity to remind me about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so funny!! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had these odd dreams. And as mad as I was at the time, I have to admit that the idea of my husband dating an entire cheerleading squad (behind my back, no less) is pretty funny!

      Like

  20. Again, you are so spot on!
    Simple, yes, but so hard to keep the drama on the page when my imagination wants to go all Dallas and Peyton Place. That’s the time to bust a move, squeeze the mean-ness out of my muscles, and work up a purging sweat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Liz! And I love how you put that….”All Dallas and Peyton Place!” That’s the way my imagination tends to work as well. But you’re right, we just need to get rid of that pettiness and meanness and let our best selves shine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michele! I really didn’t realize how important attitude was when I was younger, but the older I get, the more I realize it is almost everything. For example, I just had oral surgery yesterday, and it really wasn’t that bad. I was scared before hand, but when I went in there, I just kept thinking, “I will get through this just fine” and that helped. So did the attitude of the doctor doing the surgery and her staff, because they were all patient, kind, and upbeat. It made a huge difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Excellent post. Thank you for it.

    Cognitive psychology is a powerful tool for treating such things as depression or suicidal tendencies. It involves a number of techniques and approaches to altering our thinking patterns and goes well beyond “positive thinking”.

    Having said that, there are problems — such as very severe depressions — when it is wise to combine it with medicinal therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, sometimes the “negative voices” need much more resistance than simple positive thinking. In this post, I was referring simply to how easy it is to get in the habit of negative thinking and to assume the worst not only about ourselves, but about others as well. For those with real depression, professional help is the way to go. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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