Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Staying positive

Rogue sunflowers growing out of a downtown flower basket

A recent fantastic and touching post over at Just Playing Pretend, and a couple of conversations with friends lately have got me thinking about how we all cope with life's major and minor disappointments and how we choose to face our more challenging days.

A friend of mine recently described me as "hilariously positive" in the face of heartbreaking situations. It's not that it just comes naturally, but making the choice and doing the work that makes it possible seems to, if only because I've been forcing myself to do that work for as long as I can remember. Even if the only thing to latch on to is a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, or even just the fervent hope that there is indeed a light there at all.

About two weeks after I arrived at the newspaper here for my very first job as a reporter, both the reporter and editor took off on maternity leave, leaving me the sole member of the editorial team for the month until the editor's temporary replacement could arrive, and I spent every morning before work miserably retching and heaving with stress.

And while there was certainly some acknowledgement of the fact that it was overall a miserable time, in the form of the occasional (daily) rant to my mom, for the sake of my sanity (and so that mom would keep picking up the phone) I tried to find the humour in the situation, brainstorm some kind of solution, or just remind myself that things could be worse. That even when one or two things in my life are truly terrible, there are billions of people in direr straits. Knowing this, I stuck it out, and I got through it and I'm really glad I did. Every time I do something like that, it's just one more little victory to prop me up when the next challenge comes along.

I guess it's just about grabbing on to anything at all you can be grateful for, even if it doesn't seem like much. There are few things so terrible (knock on wood) in my life, that I can't find some part of them to laugh at.

All of this is not to say that I'm a rabid rainbow sparkle purveyer of warm fuzzy giggles, flitting around like some kind of deranged tooth fairy (although, that would be sort of awesome) and demanding that people going through some serious depression or tragedy just look on the bright side already. I understand that it is healthy and important to acknowledge when things are unbearable, and I understand that what those unbearable things might be, differs for everyone. And yes, sometimes I get stuck in a funk that is especially hard to climb out of for no particular reason at all.

I just know that in my life, for the most part, I can't justify spending my time moping. If nothing else, I'm alive. I'm safe and (relatively) healthy and there are people who love me. There are times when I feel, in short, like crap, but what right do I have to go around scowling at people? What good would that do?

Sure, misery loves company, but so does happiness. And she's a much more accomodating hostess.

*Please bear with me. Sarahbration is experiencing technical difficulties. IntenseDebate or blogger has once again swallowed a bunch of your lovely comments and I can't figure out how to get them back. I'm set to try one last thing and then it's goodbye IntenseDebate, which is a shame because I liked being able to reply directly to your comments.


Andhari said...

I love how positive you are, I can take examples from you. Sure, the more I grow up I try harder to handle stress and try to see the positive things going on in my life too but sometimes it's just really hard when you're facing a big problem. I think when I'm like that I need to really rant and let it out and get a grip of myself so I can calm down again.

Anonymous said...

Love this, and strangely, sounds way too much like me. So many of my friends don't understand how I can be so upbeat and cheery all the time. And sure, I get down, but why waste the day being miserable?

Amanda West said...

It's really hard for me to stay positive somedays... You had a good point though. I feel a bit inspired now to try and find that silver lining.

Mari said...

I love that you're positive! It is much more useful than the alternative. It doesn't always come naturally, but I work at it.

Anonymous said...

I love this. Being positive is really the only way to get through the crap life slings at us in a classy way. You're amazing. :)