How many times have you heard the phrase: “you (insert action here) like a girl?” One time? 10 times? 50 times? Too many times to count? Even if you’ve never said this phrase before or even if you’ve never had this phrase uttered to you, I’m sure that you’ve heard it said to someone else at least once in your lifetime. I’d also be willing to bet that nine times out of ten times this phrase is used to put someone down.

I’ve heard women say it to other women…

Stacy was having problems with her boyfriend, and so she decided to ask her friend Sarah for advice. Sarah knew exactly what to say because she had witnessed her friend interact negatively with her boyfriend for months now. Sarah spewed her advice to Stacy, but Sarah’s opinions were sloughed off because her advice didn’t hold any merit because it was “totally something that a girl would say.”

I’ve heard men say it to other men…

Paul was out with a group of his male friends, and revealed that he was hurt by how his friends had been treating him as of late. It felt like they had forgotten about him because they had all been spending so much of their free time with their other friends. Just as Paul finished telling his friends about how he felt one of his friends laughed and said, “There’s no need to act like such a girl, man.”

Even though many people have been hurt by the meaning that’s behind the words “like a girl,” it’s true that sometimes this phrase and others like it may not be used with the explicit intent of hurting the person who is being accused of “acting like a girl.”

I’ve heard friends use it amongst themselves jokingly, but even in these circumstances it is still used to cast a negative light down upon the person who is at the center of that joke. They aren’t saying that their friend acts like a girl in order to build him or her up, but they are using it to bring attention to a habit or action that is less than favorable.

And even if it is said as a joke, it can still do damage to young children who do not know any better…

Let’s pretend you’re at a family gathering, a family reunion perhaps, and you’re playing a friendly baseball game with your cousins and siblings that you haven’t seen in ages. It’s your turn to pitch the ball. The sun is beating down on your head and a single bead of sweat drops down your right cheek as you wind the ball up and throw it as hard as you can towards home plate. Now even though you throw the ball with all your might, it comes up incredibly short and doesn’t even make it half way to the home plate before plummeting straight to the ground. Your siblings and all of your cousins instantly break into a fit of laughter, and of course you start to laugh too because, if you’re being honest with yourself, it was a pretty horrible pitch. As the laughter dies down you suddenly hear your big brother say (in a joking matter) that you throw like a girl. You pay it no mind because the pitch that you just threw definitely wasn’t going to win you the greatest pitch of the year award, but you also failed to realize the children around you who just witnessed this interaction between you and your brother.

Later on in the day you walk past your nieces and nephews as they are playing a game of basketball. You stop suddenly when you hear one of your nieces say to her cousin that he runs like a girl. All the other kids start to laugh, and you see your nephew crying because of the hurtful words that were just expressed to him, and so you automatically walk over to the group of kids to try and sort things out. Without hesitation you tell your niece that that’s not a nice thing to say, and she responds by saying, “but I heard daddy say the same thing to you and you didn’t get mad at him.”

Right a way you realize your mistake. While you were able to understand that your brother didn’t mean any harm to you when he said “you throw like a girl,” the kids were not able to pick up on it, and now they’ve made the association that when people don’t do something well that means that they are acting like a girl.

You tell your niece and the rest of the kids standing there that just because someone does something like a girl doesn’t mean that that’s a bad thing. In order to right your wrong, you go on to tell them that there have been women throughout all of history who have made our world a better place just by doing something like a girl.

You say that Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce runs like a girl, and she has won two gold and two silver medals in the Olympics, five gold and two silver medals in the World Championships, and one gold medal in the World Indoor Championships because of her ability to run like a girl.

You say that Lisa Leslie shoots like a girl and has won four Olympic gold medals as a result of it.

Marie Curie conducted science experiments like a girl, and she won a Nobel Prize for it.

Joan of Arc fought like a girl, and was able to lead her French troops to victory during the Battle of Orleans in 1429.

Harriet Tubman cared about injustices like a girl and was able to lead over 300 slaves to freedom as a result.

And Sandra Day O’Connor practiced law like a girl and became the first woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice because of it.

Positive thinkers, we’ve become too desensitized to the negative stigma that is associated with the words “you ___ like a girl.” When you utter these words after someone has failed to do something properly you perpetuate the negative stereotype that women are not as good as men.

If someone doesn’t do something as well as another person, positive thinker, don’t automatically equate that person’s lack of expertise as being “girl like.”

To the women reading this, I ask you, do you really want your words to demonstrate that you think less of your own sex?Instead of putting each other down, we should be trying to lift each other up. Across the world women are treated as second rate citizens to men for no other reason then the fact that they were born with two X chromosomes instead of with one X and one Y chromosome. So, we definitely shouldn’t take part in treating each other as less than men especially when it’s so easy to avoid using the phrase “you ___ like a girl,” in a negative light.

To the men out there, I ask you, do you really want to portray to your daughters, wives, sisters, cousins, friends, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts that you believe that you are superior to them just because of the simple fact that you’re a man? Instead of putting women down, show the women in your life that you believe that they are equal to you.

Positive thinkers, I challenge you to stop associating a lack of talent as being girl-like. The next time someone doesn’t perform well at something that he or she does, don’t tell that person that he or she “___ like a girl,” and whenever a girl or woman does something well try telling her that she does that action “like a girl,” so that we can make a conscious effort to let others know that doing things like a girl can be a good thing. Positive thinkers, let’s attempt to rewrite the discourse around how women are perceived in our society, and let’s make that message one of positivity!

Do you know what I find to be the best part about waking up in the morning? Judging by the title of this blog entry, you can probably already guess what I’m going to say, but if you’re still stumped, don’t worry about it, I’m going to tell you. The absolute best thing about rolling over in my bed and blinking open my eyes after a night’s sleep is that I get a chance to start over again. Each day that I wake up, I am given a brand new slate, and guess what? You are too!

Now, some of you may be thinking that your slate is never completely clean, and that’s partially true. Yes, just because you yelled at one of your coworkers for not contributing properly to your presentation doesn’t mean that it has to happen again today, but what about those big things that tend to hang around you raining down on your parade, causing you uneasiness throughout your life?

It’s true that those kinds of troublesome slates are never truly wiped clean, but it’s equally true that there are ways for you to deal with them. Instead of allowing the slates that are full of bad moments to continue to weigh down heavily upon you until they become too much to bear, try waking up each morning and saying this mantra: “I may have messed up in my life by (insert mistake here) or I may be troubled by (insert problem here) at times, but I refuse to let this (slip-up/problem) have control over me. I refuse to give it the power it needs to destroy my life. Instead I choose to learn and grow from it. I choose to let it bring me new life. I choose to turn this (mistake/problem) into a blessing that will provide me with an opportunity to change my future in the direction that I want it to go in.” Do this, and maybe, with time, those slates won’t be as big as a burden to bear.

So while you do have to carry around some of the same slates for the rest of your life, positive thinker, there are slates that do allow you to start over every day. These are the slates that don’t have to follow you around for the rest of your life if you don’t want them to.

Each new day you have the option to turn over in your bed, pick up your blank slate, and come up with something brilliant that you can put down on your new slate for that day. If you want your slate to be full of positivity then you can make that happen.

Nina Simone, a great African American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist created music that not only brought attention to, and highlighted, the gross injustices that Blacks in America were experiencing in the 50s and 60s, but she also brought a spirit of positivity with the lyrics that she sang. Songs like Mississippi Goddam and Old Jim Crow projected a message of a need for change in the unfair and unequal race dynamics that were being experienced in the United States during the Civil Rights era, but songs like Feelin’ Good and Ain’t got no, I got life evoked a feeling of joy to whoever was fortunate enough to listen to these songs.

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feelin’ good,” is one of my favorite lines from Nina Simone’s song Fellin’ Good, simply because so much positivity is able to radiate out from just these few words.

Positive thinker, listen to the message of positivity that Nina Simone sends in Feelin’ Good. The new slate that you woke up to yesterday may have ended up being full of nothing but negativity, but that doesn’t matter anymore. Forget about the bad things that happened that were written on your blank slate yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that because those slates are in the past, and today’s slate is brand new.

Just because yesterday was plagued by bad event after bad event, doesn’t mean that today has to be.

Wake up each day and focus on filling your blank slate with things that are going to bring you positivity.

Remember positive thinker, you are the creator of each and every blank slate that you receive day after day, so construct it in a way that will bring you joy.

Happy Thursday positive thinkers!

We here at Positivity Works have just been informed that our friends at Fields Family Counseling Services, inc. have just won the Blue Ribbon Small Business Award! As a result of this, they have also been nominated for the Community Excellence Award!

The Community Excellence Award is an award that highlights a business that has found success in the eyes of its community, and because of this, this award is given out based upon public voting!

They are now asking for help from our community! Help us to help them by voting for them to win the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Community Excellence Award!

VOTING ENDS MARCH 4. http://goo.gl/wMuqGB

Feel free to spread the word!! Remember sharing is caring ;)

Sometimes in life, it seems as though no matter how hard you try to get things to go the way that you want them to, nothing seems to go your way. You study hard for an important exam, but you still end up failing. You work all month on creating the perfect pitch to give to your boss, and she still doesn’t like it. You’ve done everything that the doctor has been instructing you to do in order to improve your health, but you still feel just as miserable and sickly as you did before you went to see your doctor. You bend over forwards and backwards and jump through scorching fire-lit hoops in order to show your boyfriend or girlfriend that you care about them, but he or she is still unfeeling and uncaring towards you.

Setback, after setback, after setback can often times lead you to feel a great sense of hopelessness. You hit a point in your life where you think to yourself, “What’s the point in even trying anymore if things never seem to go my way in the first place.” Positive thinker, if you ever find yourself thinking something like this then try putting whatever it is that is giving you so much strife on to the back burner, even if you only do it for just an hour or two.

Why not try reading book number two in that riveting new series that you just started. Maybe try pulling out your laptop and watching your favorite sitcom on Hulu, or why not log on to your Netflix account and re-watch your favorite movie. If you have time why don’t you call up a friend just to say hey or go out and participate in your favorite recreational activity, whether it be hanging out with friends, going to a theme park, hitting the club, or grabbing a few drinks at a local bar. Whatever your pleasure may be, just get out and do it when you need a break from the stressors of life because it will make a world of difference when you finally have to focus back on the things that were troubling you.

Keep in mind that every now and again, all it takes is a little break from a difficult reality to give you the energy and the confidence that you need to jump back into that task feeling like you can take on anything. That small respite may be just what you need to come up with some creative solutions to your problems.

And if engaging in some “me time” doesn’t seem like something that you would like to do then maybe try an activity that will end up doing some good for somebody else. If this idea seems like something that you would fancy doing, but you think that you don’t have enough time to do it, I would like to once again emphasize that if you don’t have a lot of spare time, your good deed doesn’t have to be something big and time consuming. Not everyone has the time to help build a house for a family in need, and not everybody can drop everything that their doing to go and clean up their local beach, but even the smallest helpful gesture can end up bringing some much needed good into the world.

If you find yourself pressed for time, try posting an inspirational quote on your favorite social media platform. Those few words that string together to create a moving message may just be what someone else needs to make it through the rest of a wearisome day. You could also send out a text message to your best friend telling him or her how much he or she means to you. Those kind words just might be the boost that gets your friend to the end of the work week. Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time, so why not let that friendly hand come from you?

Positive thinker, when you’re feeling down I encourage you to try and be that ray of sunshine that other people needs in their life.

And if bringing joy to someone else isn’t a good enough reason to lend a helping, try this next explanation on for size. Studies show that if you help others, you can end up feeling happier than you did before you lent that helping hand!

The next time you find yourself feeling down and out positive thinker, try being that beacon of hope that ushers in a little light into a world that seems to be plagued by so much darkness. Not only will you do some good for somebody else, but you’ll also end up doing some good for yourself!

Remember positive thinker: “the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” –President Barack Obama

Picture this. It’s your birthday, and as you excitedly open the white envelope with your name on it that you retrieved from your mailbox only moments ago, a card falls out. There’s an image of a festive birthday cake on the front of the card and sitting atop of the cake are two colorful giant numbered candles depicting your new age. As you open the card you read the thoughtful handwritten note that your mother has made just for you. You laugh and cry at the beautiful words that the woman who gave you life provided for you on this special day. As you close the card and try to put it back into the envelope from where it once came, you realize that there is a piece of paper that is preventing you from placing the card back in the envelope. You open the envelope wider to get a better view of the piece of paper that is stopping you from returning the card to the envelope when you realize that there is not one piece of paper in the envelope, but two. You place your thumb and index finger inside and to your complete and utter surprise you pull out two tickets that let you know that you will be seeing your favorite singer perform live that night!

You immediately pull out your cell phone from the front pocket of your jeans and call your mom. She picks up on the third ring and says “did you like your gift?” in the same all knowing tone that she used to use on you when you were a child and were answering a question that she asked you but she already knew the answer to. You excitedly thank her over and over again for the kind words in the letter and the amazing tickets to see your favorite performer live. Your mom lets you know that the extra ticket is for your best friend and that your bestie is going to meet you at your house at 6:00 so that you guys can go to the concert together. As you marvel at how much effort your mom has put into your amazing birthday gift, she tells you that she will let you go so that you can start getting ready for the concert. You thank her one more time and then hit end on your phone before you start to get ready.

At 5:55 your phone buzzes. You take your phone out from your front pocket once again, but this time you see a text from your friend saying she’s running a little bit late, but she will be at your house no later than 6:15. You reply “Ok, see you at 6:15.” You don’t mind her being a little late. The concert doesn’t start until 8:00, and your mom probably told your friend to be at your house by 6:00 because she knew that your friend would need to be told to be at your house early because she was never on time. Even if she came at 6:30 you would still have plenty of time to get to the concert.

You look down at your phone and it’s now 6:45. You’re waiting impatiently at the front of your house when you finally here a knock at the front door. You open it to see your best friend standing their smiling apologetically. You grumble something about how she’s never on time as you lock your door behind you and hurriedly usher your friend to your car. You’re angry that she’s late, but at least you can finally get on the road.

At the concert, things seem to go from bad to worse. Because of your friend’s delayed arrival to your house, you got stuck in traffic and are 45 minutes late to the concert, and it turns out as a result of this you missed your favorite singer perform your favorite song. You angrily walk to your seat and even though your seats are only 20 rows from the from the stage, you realize that the men standing in front of you and your friend are twice your size so you can’t see the performance unless you look up on the big screen at the top of the arena. To make matters worse, as you are trying to stand up on your seat to see over the heads of the guy in front of you, your pants leg gets stuck on the corner of the seat, ripping a giant fist-sized hole into your favorite pair of jeans. By this point in time, you’re fuming and give up trying to see and resign to experience the rest of the concert sitting down in your seat that just so happens to have a broken arm rest.

Fast forward three hours. The concert is over, and you’re back at home laying face up on your couch. You go over the events of the night in your head and wonder why everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong on the one day out of the year that you should actually be enjoying yourself. Disappointed with how your big day went, you turn over face down on your couch, and without looking, you reach for the lamp on the wooden table beside you and pull the string on the lamp, turning off the light which leaves you in complete and total darkness as you slowly drift off into a restless sleep.

Now let’s look at this same scenario through a different lens.

Your friend is 45 minutes late, and instead of getting angry, you sit back and think how you are just happy that you get to spend some time with your friend. As you get older in life it becomes more and more difficult to find time to spend with the people you love. As your friends get jobs and start families, you tend to see less and less of the people that you actually want to see, and as you think about this little fact of life you realize that it doesn’t matter that she’s running late because you are actually fortunate enough to spend your birthday in the company of your best friend.

You get to the concert late, missing your favorite song, but instead of getting mad you’re thankful that you still get to see more than half of the concert. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t hear the first few songs because you get to hear the rest of the songs by your favorite artist live! The tall man standing in front of you forces you to stand on top of your seat, ripping your favorite pair of jeans, but instead of allowing your anger to rise to a dangerous level, you realize that this is a blessing in disguise. You have enough jeans already and you had been meaning to clean out your closet of some of your clothes, and these newly ripped jeans mean that there will be one less piece of clothing cluttering up your closet. As you spend the rest of the concert sitting down listening to the music of your favorite musical artist, you are thankful that you’re seated in front of a man that is twice your size because now you get to sit down and just listen to the performance instead of spending the night standing on your feet and jumping up and down, dancing for hours, which probably would have left your feet throbbing by the end of the night.

Zora Neal Hurston, Civil Rights Activist and author of Their Eyes Were watching God, once said that “happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil,” and if you ask me she was on to something.

Positive thinker, the difference between people who walk through life feeling happy and the people who walk through life with a cloud of gloom raining over their heads is how they choose to look at life. If you walk around life finding the negative in every single situation then you will only be able to experience negativity; however, chances are, if you develop a frame of mind where you make an effort to find the good in all situations, especially in the really terrible ones, then you’ll probably be much happier as a result of it.

In life, it’s not always what you see with your eyes that is the most important thing. Sometimes you need to obstruct your vision in order to experience clarity. When you only look at something with your eyes you are just able to see the situation at face value. Perfect vision doesn’t always allow you to experience your world in its entirety. When your sight is not at 100% you have to rely on other parts of your body to help, which can sometimes allow you to “see” more clearly than perfect vision ever could. If you experience a given situation with your ears, heart, mind, and spirit instead of just with your “perfect vision” then you are likely to get a better and more accurate view of that situation.

Everyone will experience unhappy moments in life, positive thinker, but it is in these moments that we need to obstruct our vision the most. If your eyes are only allowing you to see the bad then block your vision so that you can dig deep and use other parts of yourself to find the good in that situation.

Could you imagine going into the doctor’s office and being told that you would never be able to walk again? How would you feel if you received this life altering news? Crushed? Devastated? Confused? Distraught? Shocked? If I was a betting woman, I would say that you would probably feel all of these emotions and then some. You’ve spent all of your life being able to run around whenever you felt the urge to do so. You could jump up and down with excitement or skip down the road with merriment after hearing thrilling news. You could dance and groove to the beat of your favorite songs with both of your legs, and now your doctor has just informed you that you will never be able to take another step again for as long as you live.

Yes you might seek other expert opinions, but if every doctor that you visited told you that you would never walk again then you would probably take the doctor at his or her word and resign yourself to a life of not being able to walk, and I wouldn’t blame you.

But what if I told you that there was a little girl from Bethlehem, Tennessee who was told by a doctor that she would never walk again. What if I told you that this little girl not only went on to walk again, but also went on to run again. What if I told you that she not only ran, but she ran so fast that she was able to win a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics. And what if I told you that she not only won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics but also went on to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, making her the first African American woman to receive three gold medals at a single Olympics!

If these suppositions seem familiar to you it’s because they’re not theories at all, but are actually events from the life of a real woman-a woman, whose name was Wilma Rudolph.

Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940 to Ed and Blanche Rudolph. She was the 20th child out of her 22 siblings and was loved by her family. At age four, she contracted polio and was told by her doctor that she was never going to walk again. Wilma Rudolph and her mother did not let this doctor’s diagnosis keep them from believing that Wilma would be able to walk again. Wilma’s mother, along with the help of Wilma’s brothers and sisters, massaged Wilma’s legs four times a day with the hope that Wilma would one day be able to walk again. Wilma’s mother also drove over 90 miles once a week to take her daughter to physical therapy. After countless hours of leg massages and therapy visits, Wilma was able to walk with the assistance of a leg brace by the time she was 9, and by the time she was 12, Wilma was actually able to run around and play without the leg brace (https://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016444.html).

Just like many kids with older siblings, Wilma Rudolph decided that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her big sister. Her sister played basketball in high school, so Wilma went on to do the same thing. While in school, Wilma went on to become an all-state basketball player, which just so happened to attract attention from Ed Temple the Tennessee State track coach. Wilma trained with Ed and his college track team throughout her time in high school, and this dedication to running ended up paying off (https://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016444.html).

Sixteen year old Wilma Rudolph went to the 1956 Olympics and helped the U.S. Women’s track team win a bronze medal in the 4×100 meter relay. In the 1960 Olympics, Wilma won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash with a world-record time of 11.0 seconds. In the semi-finals of the 200 meter dash, she broke another world record with a time of 23.2 seconds. Going into the finals of the 200 meter sprint with the confidence of already holding a world record in this event, Wilma was able to win the gold with a time of24 seconds. In this 1960 Olympics, Wilma also helped bring home a gold medal for the U.S. Women’s 4×100 meter relay team with a winning time of 44.5 seconds, which was just 0.1 seconds short of the world record time that this same U.S. Women’s 4×100 meter relay team completed in the semifinals (http://www.biography.com/people/wilma-rudolph-9466552#pioneering-olympic-medalist).

At age four Wilma Rudolph believed in her own greatness. She had a dream, and this dream was that she was going to walk again. She dreamed that she could become a “normal” kid. If she didn’t believe in her own greatness, then she would have listened to what that doctor told her. If she didn’t believe in her dream she would have given up on ever trying to walk again.

Science is probably one of the most reliable forms of knowledge in our universe, and if Wilma Rudolph didn’t let scientific facts and a medical diagnosis stop her from believing in her dreams then you shouldn’t let anything, especially yourself, keep you from pursuing your dreams.

Positive thinker, if you dream of doing something then do it! Believing in your dream is half the battle. You can’t expect for that thing that you’ve always imagined yourself doing to ever happen if you yourself don’t believe that it could actually happen. If you can’t believe in your own greatness then you can never expect to be great. If you don’t believe that your dreams can ever come true then they won’t. All of the great mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, inventors, dancers, actors, musicians, writers, innovators, doctors, and lawyers throughout all of time realized that they would never be able to achieve their dreams if they didn’t believe in themselves first.

I encourage you, positive thinker, to follow the example of the great movers and shakers in our world and believe in yourself the same way that they believed in themselves. I challenge you to stop undervaluing your greatness and to start believing in the power of believing in your dreams.

Remember positive thinker: “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph

Greetings Positive Thinkers!

A few weeks ago I challenged you to make a list of things that you were thankful for and to spend time daily focusing your attention on all of the good things that you have in your life instead of on all of the things in your life that cause you stress, worry, and strife. If you did make that list and are continuing to spend time daily paying attention to the good that you have in your life, then keep doing it. If you made the list, but maybe sloughed off after a few days of doing it then I urge you to incorporate your daily time with gratitude back into your life. If this is your first time reading about this challenge then I’d like to personally invite you to join us on our uphill climb towards positivity. Become an active member in our challenge. The last group of people I would like to address is those of you who read about the challenge but never tried this exercise. If I’m talking to you, then I have a question that I need to ask you. What’s stopping you from accepting the challenge?

Is it that you don’t have any free moments to devote to focusing on what you’re thankful for? If that’s the dilemma that you’re struggling with then I’m here to tell you that this devotion to thankfulness doesn’t have to be a long one. Why not do it during part of your lunch break? If that doesn’t work for you, try spending your moments focusing on gratitude for a few minutes when you first wake up or right before you go to bed. All I’m asking is that you take a few minutes out of your day to really focus on what you’re thankful for. It doesn’t have to be 60, 45, 30, or even 15 minutes. All you need is a few extra minutes to spare every day.

If that’s not your problem then maybe the reason you haven’t made your list is because you don’t believe that it’s possible to bring more good into your life just by being thankful for what you do have. If that’s the case, then I can tell you first hand that it works for me.

Before I started consciously deciding to be thankful for what I had in my life, it seemed like I could only focus on everything that was bad about my life. I was angry that I was unemployed with a college degree. I was stressed out trying to come up with a way to pay off my crippling amounts of student debt without a penny to my name. I was depressed that everyone in my life except me seemed to have everything figured out. I was unhappy with everything in my life because I was failing to acknowledge that there were actually things in my life that I could and should be happy about. Instead of complaining about everything that I didn’t like, I started to say thank you for the things that I did like. I made a deliberate effort to recognize that I should be thankful that I was surrounded by friends who loved me. I started to appreciate my good health. I was grateful that I had a loving family who didn’t turn me a way and kick me to the curb in my hour of need. As soon as I stopped focusing on what was going wrong with my life and started focusing on what was going right with my life, more of the good started to appear. Instead of being an unemployed college graduate, I became an employed college graduate. I went from one day being angry about not having my life figured out, to the next day coming to peace with the fact that I didn’t have, or need to have everything figure out right now.

Even though more good things started to enter into my life, it didn’t mean that bad things stopped happening to me. Bad things do still show up. I would be lying if I said they didn’t, but when I think about all that I’m thankful for, the bad doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Now if you didn’t believe my story, I wouldn’t blame you. Sometimes it’s hard to believe someone you’ve known your entire life, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a problem with believing someone you’ve never even met. You may ask yourself: “why should I listen to this woman who’s sitting behind her keyboard and telling me what to do with my life?” If that’s a question that you’re asking yourself then all I have to say to you is: you’re right. You’ve never set your eyes upon me. You’ve never spoken two words to me, and now I’m asking you to trust me and take me at my word, and that could be a hard thing to do. You don’t know if I’m lying about this experience that I’ve just described or if I’m telling the truth, but to be completely honest with you, it shouldn’t really matter if my story is true or not.

If there’s even the slightest possibility that you could bring more splendor into your life just by being thankful for what you already have then why wouldn’t you take the chance and try? If you could be happier just by having a grateful outlook on life then why wouldn’t you take the time to sit down and make a list of all of things that you’re thankful for and reflect upon it daily?

If you want to welcome gratitude into your life then do it. Make the list.

And don’t do it for me, the anonymous person writing this post. Do it because you want to experience more positivity in your life and less negativity. Do it because when you start to focus on being thankful for what you do have, you tend to draw more good things into your life. Do it because you want to do it for you.

Remember positive thinkers: “gratitude is a wonderful way to draw more beauty in your life.”

This Monday Americans across the country celebrated the life, legacy, and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just as we do every year on the third Monday in January. With the emergence of websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media has become a major platform for people to show their love of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this special day. Quote after quote and video after video showed up on my newsfeed honoring the legacy of this great man and civil rights activist. As these words and images continued to roll past my computer screen, I thought about some of the words of Dr. King that hold a special place in my life. While shifting through the numerous Dr. King quotes in my mind, I remembered one that I had heard for the first time a few years back: “never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

I don’t know about you, but often times I am faced with a situation where I can either choose the dark path that lead to bitterness, or I can choose to stray away from that bleak path and choose a path that leads to light instead. A lot of times choosing bitterness seems like it would be the easier road to go down. You think that you will be able to feel better by resenting your best friend for going out with the person that you’ve had a crush on for months, and honestly, in the beginning you may actually feel better for resenting your friend and her new boo. After all, they surely shouldn’t deserve your support for stabbing you in the back. So for the first few days you think that you feel better for being bitter about your situation, but after awhile that bitterness will probably start to not feel as good to you as it did on day one.

Positive thinker, holding on to anger and hatred can only cause you more anger and hatred. The more you dwell on that situation, the more it consumes your life. You will only become angrier and more bitter the more that you hold onto the resentment that you have towards these two individuals that have wronged you. This anger started out as just a small seed in your heart. If you had chosen not to dwell on that anger then the seed would have died. It may not have died right away because the pain from being wronged doesn’t leave over night, but that seed would have died without receiving proper attention. However, by choosing to accept bitterness you also choose to let that seed grow. As the rage boils throughout your veins you give that seed the nutrients it needs to mature. Your bitterness will turn into the water that feeds the seed, giving it the kiss of life. Your hatred becomes the sunshine that will give newness to your seed, causing it to develop and grow into a budding plant. Your resentment will become the fertilizer that strengthens the plant as it wraps around your insides and suffocates you causing you more and more pain. Outside of your body, taking care of and nurturing a plant is a thing of beauty, but this plant of resentment that inhabits your body is out of place and can only cause you harm.

Positive thinker, if you are currently holding on to any kind of bitterness then I challenge you to let go of it. You’re only hurting yourself by allowing that bitterness to continue to grow inside of you. Without bitterness your plant will die. It will probably not die as quickly as it would have if you had chosen to never hold on to bitterness, but by choosing to finally let go of it, your plant can no longer survive. Without resentment the plant won’t have the nutrients, sunlight, and water that are needed for it to grow inside of you and bring toxicity into your body. Positive thinker, let that unwanted poison leave your body so that you can live healthily once again.

There’s no point in being bitter about the new relationship that your ex best friend and her honey have embarked upon. They’re happy, and you too deserve to be happy. They’ve moved on and so should you. Accept the situation and acknowledge that holding on to that anger is not worth your time. Move on so that you won’t have to spend all of your time focusing on being bitter. Do it so that you can stop focusing on the negative and start focusing on the positive once again.

Once you throw your bitterness out, you’ll have much more time and energy to devote to things that will actually bring you happiness instead of pain. If you are too busy holding on to the bitterness that you have about your former best friend and her new lover then you won’t be able to realize that there are plenty of good people around you that will actually value you as a human being who is deserving and worthy of respect and love. Positive thinker, choose the path of lightness instead of the one that is full of darkness. Choose to let that seed die instead of choosing to allow it to take root inside of you and grow.

Choose to listen to the positive words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and “never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

Merriam-Webster defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,” and unfortunately because this is what Merriam- Webster defines success as, it seems like growing up that’s what many of us were taught to believe. Even if you were lucky enough to have a family that placed an emphasis on success defined by happiness, I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard Merriam-Webster’s definition of success in other areas of your life. At some point in your schooling you probably ran across a teacher that stressed the importance of his or her students finding a “practical” job. Having a job as an artist or writer wasn’t likely to give you wealth, respect, or fame, but a job as an engineer or lawyer just might. You may have walked around your college campus and witnessed people turn their noses up at the kids majoring in theater or dance just because it wasn’t a “practical” major that would bring them success.

We don’t only find Merriam-Webster’s definition of success in our schools. This message is also just as prevalent in our media. As you turn on your TV to watch your favorite Thursday night drama you will see Webster’s definition. As you sit down and listen to the lyrics of your favorite songs on your iPod, you are also being exposed to a definition of success that is defined by the amount of money you have, the type of clothes you wear, or how much fame you have.

We are taught that by having these material possessions, the respect of others, and fame we can have happiness, but that’s not always the case. Someone can have all the money in the world and still wake up everyday hating life. You may have the respect of everyone in the world, but are still unhappy with your life because you don’t have the respect of the one person that matters the most. You. There are celebrities out there who are adored and worshiped by people around the world, but who are unhappy with their lives. They plaster on a fake smile while they walk down the red carpet and do interviews, all in an attempt to mask the pain that they feel deep inside. These people may be successful by Merriam-Webster’s standards, but it hasn’t led them to a life of happiness.

With all these instances of Merriam-Webster’s definition of success plaguing our everyday lives, it’s hard to think of success as anything but wealth, respect or fame. It may be difficult to think of success and experience it in a non-traditional way, but it’s not impossible. Positive thinker, I dare you to try and look at success in a different way. I challenge you to flip the script.

Instead of drawing your happiness from the tangible things in life and opinions of others, draw it from yourself. Things like money and fame can be snatched away from you in the blink of an eye and when these things that you’ve worked your entire life striving for are taken from you what will you have left? If you’ve spent your entire life trying to achieve happiness based upon Merriam-Webster’s definition of success, then the answer to that question is: nothing.

However, if you live a life where you wake up each and everyday a little bit happier than you were the day before then you can still have success. It may not be the Merriam-Webster’s definition of success that you want to have, but it will be a kind of success that you actually need to experience. You may not have wealth in terms of an excess amount of money or material goods, but you will have a wealth of happiness, and that can be just as valuable, if not more valuable than a fancy car or an expensive watch. You may lose the respect of others by choosing to avoid Merriam-Webster’s definition of success, but you will have gained a new sense of self-respect. You can wake up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror and be happy that you have the respect of the person that’s looking right back at you. You may not have adoring fans from every part of the globe, but you can be a star to the people in your life that actually matter the most to you.

Remember positive thinker:

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” – Albert Schweitzer

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