For Us Negative Nellies and Anyone Else Who Wants to Be More Positive
I’m not an optimistic person by nature. Partly due to my personality and partly my upbringing, I find it’s easier to see the problems and imagine the pitfalls in any endeavor. But over the years, I have learned that I enjoy being more positive in my approach to life. And I like to be around people with positive attitudes.
When I say positive attitudes, I don’t mean the kind that a manager at the Christian youth hostel that I worked at meant. “Smile! Quit frowning. People will think being a Christian makes you sad.” Sadly, that’s a common idea in Christian circles, leading to people to keep their smile façade on while dying on the inside, afraid to seek help because their faith might be questioned, when they are simply human. And I certainly don’t mean pie in the sky thinking!
For me, having a positive attitude is about finding the good things in normal and hard circumstances and recognizing them for the treasures they are — whether it’s a lesson, a challenge, an encouragement, or a new friend willing to work with me as we face life together. But it doesn’t come naturally to me, which is one reason why I write Grace by the Cup — it forces me to look for the little graces in my relationships with other people and with God.
And it’s why my ears perked up at the phrase “Glow, Grow, and Gratitude” when I heard it on morning TV last week. It turns out there is a lot to be found online and in social media about this — even dedicated FaceBook Groups and coaches. But what caught my attention was its simplicity.
The woman sharing the concept said she asks her children at the end of the day these questions:
- What made you Glow today? (made you feel good)
- What made you Grow today? (challenged or stretched you)
- What are you grateful for?
Gratitudes are nothing new to me, and I often start my day with them. My normal practice is to try to write down five things I’m grateful for. But I’m not a morning person, so this can be a challenge even on good days.
I like that this woman’s approach was to ask these questions at the end of the day. Instead of thinking about all the things coming at me the next day, or stewing over what went wrong on this day, it prods me into a different mindset. Here are some examples:
- What can I celebrate from today?
- Getting the dishes done.
- A compliment from a friend or stranger.
- If I’m down in the dumps, just getting out of bed is cause to celebrate.
- What challenged me today, got me out of my comfort zone?
- An insightful (and uncomfortable) comment from a friend.
- A leak that had to be fixed.
- A search for a new doctor.
- What am I grateful for that did or did not happen today?
- Clear medical test results.
- My husband making me laugh.
- Meeting a new neighbor when walking the dog.
So often we’re focused on the big things in life. But it’s the little things that can determine our attitude, whether we face the big things with dread and anxiety, or with confidence and determination.
When I’m looking for the Glows, Grows, and Gratitudes, I am better equipped when the doctor says, “You might need surgery”, or a job prospect falls through. Even if it’s been a day where everything but the kitchen sink has hit the fan, I can always find something to be grateful for, certainly something that challenged me, and — if I’m willing to look — there is usually something that made me feel good. But I’m pretty piecemeal about his kind of thinking.
So, I’ve decided to change up my routine and list at least one Glow, Grow, and Gratitude each evening before bed. I’m excited about how this may change my mental framework. If you already do something like this, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you. If you decide to try this yourself, let me know how it goes.
Grace, Peace, and Hugs!
6 thoughts on “Glow Grow and Gratitude”
Hi Marty, This is an interesting post. I’m the opposite of you, can generally find something to like or learn or appreciate in most any situation or person. What makes it interesting is there seem to be people (like you) who need to consciously look for the “Glow, Grow and Gratitude” in their days, where I just see those more or less continuously.
I wasn’t always like this although as a young adult I was much more positive than many other people my age. The big reset, and that is what it was, happened after I sustained a spinal cord injury. I was absolutely thrilled to have survived a collision that nobody had any business surviving, judging from the remains of my truck. Not only that, I had gone and broken my neck at the absolute optimum age, 35, when I was old enough to know to take rehab seriously and young enough to put out 8 solid hours of physical work every day. At that point I started cleaning up my life to focus on values and people and activities important to me.
You talk about the little things being important to a person’s attitude. Today my neighbor brought over a bowl of his wife’s Mexican chicken soup, with one little grandchild carrying a plate of toppings (very carefully) and a smaller grandchild carrying a bag of tortilla chips (mostly crushed!). They were so cute coming up the driveway after they saw me pull in. I’ll save that memory for when I have a flat tire or forget to pay the bills or ruin the burgers or whatever. I have lots and lots of memories like this. As my memory overall gets worse, the good stuff stays.
I sincerely hope your new bedtime routine yields good results for you. You have had a number of different routines and I suspect (at least I hope) each one adds a bit of peace and pleasure to your life.
Thank you for sharing your big reset. The summer after my first year in college, I got a job with a friend as live-in caretakers for a woman in her mid-twenties who had broken her neck swimming at 16. She also had kidney failure and did home dialysis. She could write some and was independent minded, but her attitude overall was resigned and frustrated, probably from the pain that she couldn’t “locate” for the doctors. Because of that experience, I always pick up on the stories of folks (like you) who have chosen not to let that experience/loss define them.
We can all have our reset moments — big or small — and change how we approach life and determine what is important. I used to think it had to be big and dramatic like yours. Not that I haven’t had any drama(!), but I’m glad we can also learn from the little things and take delight in wonderful gifts like home-made soup and even more precious little grandchildren. Thanks for sharing.
Age 16 is a particularly bad time to be thrown a curve like that because they already have so much on their plates. It is also a prime age for SCI due to typical risky behavior at that age. Kidney failure used to be the primary way people with SCI died. Bladder care has improved to the point that it is considered a “success” that we now die mostly of heart disease like everyone else. They still don’t have much treatment for that kind of pain, meditation seems to work for many, others swear by cannabis, which of course wasn’t available legally back then. I got lucky with pain.
Grandchildren are especially precious when they belong to someone else so I get just the good parts. Most every parent I know is thrilled to loan me a child whenever I want, like to visit the zoo.
Hmmm, I like the zoo idea. No one around me qualifies for such activities now, but I did have fun with my nephews when they were small. One has his own daughter, but lives too far away.
This was in the May 23 Washington Post. I think you can read a limited number of articles without subscribing. Or other places may have also picked up the article. “What’s the key to a good life? Ask the people who’ve lived long enough to know” by Margaret Sullivan
The article is about “70 Over 70” podcasts.
Thanks for the link. I actually have a WP subscription – got a deep discount – but I hadn’t seen this. Now I want to listen to the podcast!