I tend to be negative by nature. Expecting the worst is practically a hobby. It’s not something I have to work at in any capacity. It’s my default.
I know that not everyone is like this. So, if you are someone who can see the best in any situation, I envy you. But I also have learned through the years that most natural habits can be changed. It isn’t easy to rewire my brain to think differently, but it is possible and something I work on daily.
I titled this blog “Hopeful of Thought” not just because it’s a play on words of my given name—though I do have a hard time resisting a good pun—but because I wanted it to be full of hope. The things I write here should have an expectancy of good to come. Not just for anyone reading it but for myself as well. Working to keep my head in a positive state of mind is good for my soul. I want it to be a ray of light among all the darkness. With everything that’s happened in recent years, we could all use a little more sunshine.
I have no idea how successful my goal will be, but if I bless even one person, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do.
As a child, I had an enthusiasm for life that faded as I aged. Where I used to expect wonderful things, I became dour, bitter. Life had hurt me, and I was done with its nonsense. By my teens, I couldn’t even see the glass as half-empty. It was shattered on the floor; contents spilled everywhere. Bad things happen. Life sucks. There is no happy ending. Maybe you’ve felt this way too.
I lived that way for years: miserable in a dark world of my own invention. If anyone had something positive to say, I was ready to explain why it was terrible or could be. But the thing about mindsets is that they are something we control. It took me a long time to recognize that.
Within the last ten years, I started consciously observing and changing my reactions when things started going wrong. I would ask myself questions like, what is the worst that could happen? Not some anxiety-fueled delusion of a worst-case scenario, but an accurate analysis. If the worst should happen, what can I do? Planning can combat the spiraling thoughts I get when I’m in a negative thought pattern. And how crucial is it that things go right? Sometimes, the easiest way to stay positive is to acknowledge that our imagined negative situation isn’t all that important. And if it is, maybe it isn’t as dire as it feels.
Not every situation can be turned around in my mind so easily. And sometimes, things do turn out as badly as I feared. But in those moments, anticipating negativity didn’t help me cope with horrible situations.
I used to think that if I expected bad things, then nothing could disappoint me. That wasn’t true. I also used to believe that by being negative, I was being realistic. That wasn’t true, either. Life isn’t bad or good. It’s a jumbled mess of the two. Fixating on bad things only meant that I didn’t appreciate anything good that happened in my life.
Now, I’m trying to change that one day and one thought at a time.
So, I will do my best to write things that will bless and evoke a spark of hope. I want to see the bright side more often. I desire to see the light stretch and expand in our lives, communities, and world. It may seem impossibly optimistic to believe that this world could grow into a better place, but isn’t that the point? I’ve spent so much of my life focusing on how awful the world can be. I want to trust that it doesn’t have to be. I want to look on the bright side.
I hope you do too.