John Steinbeck once wrote “The final weapon is the brain; all else is supplemental,” suggesting the unappreciated power our mind has over our thoughts and actions.
From the time I got married in May of 2014, there was a different theme present in my life. My first couple years of marriage (from ages 22-24) were marked by learning to love myself and love others the way God does. Year 25 was marked by learning grace, adaptability, and balance. And, this past year has been marked by a question:
What does it look like to be utterly honest with myself and others while maintaining a positive perspective?
So much of me has always wanted to live in this la vie en rose perspective and see life through rose-colored glasses, dancing and floating happily while ignoring the gritty realities that life sometimes holds. I either completely reject the hardships of this life and live blissfully ignorant, or I spiral downwards into a dark pit of despair (okay, I’m being a bit dramatic).
I once thought that optimism and positivity were incompatible with reality, but now I know they are not. I am still choosing to live my own version of la vie en rose by being both realistic and optimistic. It is SO possible.
I think the secret to living a well-balanced life is, to be honest with ourselves and others—to accept reality—while still maintaining an optimistic perspective to make the most of this beautiful, short life!
Here are some three tips I have found to be valuable in learning to embrace both perspectives:
1. Accept your own struggles and the struggles of those around you
It can be easier to live in bliss and neglect hardships; however, true richness in life comes when we start from the foundation and move upwards. I have always thought I should immediately fix my own issues and fix the issues of others, but now I know that life-changing growth can also come when we stop trying to fix the issues and recognize it is okay to have issues.
We are human. When we recognize we are not perfect we stop striving towards impossible standards and ironically grow even more. By doing this we give others permission to do the same. Remember that we are all in this together and we are not alone.
2. Dwell on positive thoughts and truth regarding those struggles
In one of his most famous works, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes from a demon’s perspective, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.” If we fail to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts we can allow our minds to be drowned in darkness.
That is why it is important to consistently dwell on positivity and truth, whether that be quotes, scripture, or encouragement from others. We can begin by pulling out the weeds in our hearts and replacing them with good soil.
3. Carry your self-awareness and awareness of others with a positive demeanor
Lastly, as we accept our struggles and the struggles of others and dwell on positivity and truth, we must choose to live optimistically. We call out the truth in ourselves and we call out the truth in others. The more we both take the actions to think truth, speak the truth, and be true to ourselves and to others, the stronger our roots grow and the more beauty we see from this growth.
As Emily Dickinson ever-so-captivatingly expresses, “I dwell in possibility.” I dwell in possibility by recognizing life is so short in comparison to the eternity that we will have with Jesus. This causes me to not want to spend so much time dwelling on my own negativity and failures. No one is perfect and I do not always feel this way, but if I mess up I will choose to move forward, do better next time, and count each step as a victory whether I fall down or run the race wholeheartedly.
Choose to dwell in possibility.
In what ways are you honest while maintaining a positive perspective?