Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy vs Sad

Not too long ago my daughter completed a writing assignment for her sixth-grade English class.  The assignment was to take a location and describe it from two perspectives:  as a happy and warm place and then as a scary place.

My daughter loves horses so she selected a horse barn as her location.  For the happy description she described the fragrance of the hay, the soft feel of the beautiful horses, and the pleasure of riding.  For the "scary" description she wrote about taking shelter in the barn during a thunderous downpour, the smell of rotting food, and being scared by a cat jumping out of the darkness.

Our outlook on life is like my daughter's writing assignment.  The way we approach each day is a choice that we make.  We can either find the positive or the negative in every situation.  Psychologists refer to this choice as "cognitive reframing."  It has also been referred to as a change of paradigms.

When I was in college, I had the "opportunity" to deliver pizzas for a major chain.  Really, I hated the job.  Even though I believed I was familiar with the town I had lived in for 10 years, I quickly learned that there were several roads either too small or too new for me to know.  The challenge was even greater while delivering at night on roads and to destinations not clearly identified.

After a few nights, I realized that this job might not be too bad, and after a few more nights of improved time on deliveries and extra tips in my pocket, I felt positive enough that I delivered pizza through the summer. I could have hated the job for the entire summer and been miserable, but approaching the situation with a positive attitude resulted in a pleasant and memorable experience - I still like pizza!

Whatever your situation, try to take a positive outlook even if all that means is knowing that the situation will pass.  You'll feel better and less anxious.

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