I can usually feel it coming. It starts with something small but annoying bothering me in the morning, in the afternoon something may go wrong at work, then at dinner a new recipe I was so excited to make is a disaster, by evening I have a full case of “feel sorry for Theresa” going on. I am really good at pouting, complaining and lamenting over “why me.”
Over the years I have come to learn that no matter what situation I find myself in there is ALWAYS someone whose situation is worse than mine. If I really think about it, my problems, no matter how annoying or inconvenient they seem in my life, often become trivial compared to what others are facing. Additionally, I have found myself spending way too much energy through worry or complaining about things I cannot change.
Knowing all of this, why then do negative thoughts tend to take over our lives? I think the answer to that is because we let them. I now understand we have some control over our attitudes. We can choose to focus on the negative which will always make us feel worse and generate more negativity. Or we can choose to concentrate on more positive thoughts which should bring optimism to our lives and help us avoid worry and stress.
I am far from an expert on positive thinking and struggle with the application of this concept all the time, but as I have fought the pain and immobility of arthritis over the past few years, I have come to use a certain technique to try and keep my mind optimistic. It involves listing the things I am happy about at that time and also the things I am unhappy about. Nine times out of ten when I do this exercise I come up with many more things that make me happy than things I am unhappy about. This visual exercise can help put those non-happy thoughts into perspective.
Today I have been fighting the pain of a pinched nerve and I felt myself going down that ugly negative path. I started making my list:
The things I am not happy about today:
- After three weeks I am still having pain in my neck and arm due to a pinched nerve. The cervical epidural that I had last week has not diminished the pain by much and it is another week before I get the second procedure.
- Tonight I have to work late to produce the financial reports for month end close. Last week when I worked late I finished at midnight….a 16 ½ hour workday.
The things I am happy about today:
- I walked two miles last night. A year and one-half ago, before my two hip replacements, I could not even walk around the grocery store. This is a major accomplishment for me.
- Next week I get my first basket of fresh produce from my CSA. Can’t wait to see what is included.
- In six weeks we are going on vacation with all of our kids to Florida.
- I am working in my sweats today with no makeup on. I am lucky to be able to work from home.
- Tomorrow I am taking a road trip to Warrensburg to eat dinner with Molly. As usual she left something at home this weekend that I need to deliver, but it gives me an excuse to hang out with her for while.
- This weekend we are starting on our bathroom remodel.
- It is a gorgeous, sunny and warm day outside.
- My clematis are in full bloom.
Comparing the two list I can see that I should be four times as happy as I am unhappy. It is my choice to decide which list to focus on today. I think I will choose the HAPPY list! Granted, this does not make my pain go away or change the fact I have to work late tonight, but hopefully this will at least allow me to cope with those items better.
I would love to know how you deal with a bad day………please share!