Many of you know that I had an extremely rough year this past 2011.
It was the most testing, difficult, conflicting, disheartening year I've ever had, and I don't say that lightly.
As the year came to a close, things kept getting worse, and I barely held on, propelled meagerly by the hope that 2012 would be better.
The New Year came and things continued to get worse.
That is when I realized that bad things will keep happening,
and that maybe it wasn't necessarily the time that would help my life improve,
but my attitude toward it.
And so, as the clock struck midnight,
sipping on champagne for the first time in my life,
with two close and loyal friends by my side,
I resolved that I would live life fully and return to my roots:
I resolve to be more positive this year.
This is no easy task.
It once came naturally to me,
but over the past two years, I allowed darkness and paranoia into my heart and mind,
and my soul became empty and bitter.
I may not have shown it on the outside,
but I was in a near-dead state for most of the past year,
simply going through the motions of living, loving, laughing,
without knowing why I was doing it anymore.
But now I know this one valuable truth,
and that is that your attitude toward life affects everything.
If you are negative, you will feel shallow and depressed,
but if you can keep your chin up, and find the good in all things and all people,
life will continually be an adventure for you,
and you really will get the best out of it.
These are the steps I am going to take to fulfill my resolution,
and I highly suggest that if anyone wants to join me in being more positive,
you do the same:
1. End the Day Right, Sleep Soundly, Wake Early
I know a lot of people who have restless sleep, and sometimes it is a physical condition that requires medicinal help, but perhaps it is also the frame of mind that will cure it. I observed myself for a while and noted what mood I was in and how good or bad my days were when I had restless or sound sleeps. I realized that whenever I ended my day on a sour note, I would have a horrible sleep, and I would wake up later than I wanted to and feel absolutely terrible.
There is a Bible verse that says "do not let the sun go down on your anger." This can be taken to mean that if there is a problem you have or if something is bothering you, resolve it before you go to bed. Don't let the day end on a sour note because it will affect you mentally, and because of that, physically. If you can regulate your sleeping, get the required amount of rest your body needs, when it needs it, go to sleep at a reasonable hour, and wake up early, your mental, emotional, and physical state will be far better. I've also noticed that when I go to bed by midnight, and wake up with the sunrise, my days feel fuller and more hopeful. There's something about watching the sun come up and go down that makes you feel like you are an important part of the world, and that self-esteem is necessary to keeping positive.
You can read more about proper sleeping habits here.
2. Remove All Negative Influences from Your Life, and Don't Allow What Others Say and Do Influence Your Frame of Mind
Life can be complicated. That goes without saying. I had always held to the believe that everything had worth and that you should experience all that you can while you still can, and keep an open mind to that which you have not experienced. That still holds true. However, sometimes you need to experience less of certain things and certain people. If you find yourself becoming more upset and frustrated with life the more you spend your time with a certain person, maybe that person shouldn't be as huge of an influence on you as you'd like them to be. It is important to have friends and people you can rely on, but it is also important to spend your time with the right kind of people. I only realized this a short time ago, and by then it was too late.
I've recently begun to remove the negative influences in my life (or perhaps life positioned things in such away that they would be removed on their own), and faced off against the second part of this important step: guarding myself against pessimism and negative thoughts. It was a challenge. Some people I valued highly turned and said and did cruel, hateful things that I never imagined would come from them. It very nearly killed me (and I wish that was an exaggeration). I read some words from a friend that set my head reeling so much that I almost fainted, and I cried more and harder this past year than I have the rest of my life prior.
It wasn't until I sat back and observed everything from outside myself, outside them, and outside the world, that I realized that there are always reasons for these things. Perhaps the person saying or doing these horrible things is undergoing their own set of trials that drove them to snap at the first person that crossed their path, even if that person had the best intentions. Perhaps these situations are put in our lives to strengthen us, and cause us to grow stronger in our own sense of self. As said before, self-esteem is important to staying positive, and you need to know who you are and what pull you have on the world in order to keep that up. You have worth, you have value, and even if you make a few mistakes along the way, no human can judge you for it. Everyone is equal, and nobody knows the inner workings of each others' minds, so don't say or do things that would hurt someone else.
I am no exception to this rule. I've said and done some hurtful things (some of them recently), and I am sorry I did. I do not regret it, because regret only weighs you down, but what I am working to do is make things right, even if I can only resolve it in my own mind. That being said, listen to others and accept their apologies. Even if it's not as sincere as you would hope, respect them and forgive them, and that forgiveness will help improve their lives. You may not like them that much, but that's another matter which I will discuss in the next point, so read on.
3. Respect Your Fellow Man, and Do Not Hate
This has always been the core of who I am. I acknowledge that everyone lives their lives differently because of different experiences, and so I respect everyone with their individuality. I may not agree with them, or the way they live, but I cannot blame them or cast judgement upon them for it. There are a million different ways to do the same task, and that is what makes the human race so beautiful.
Knowing this, do not hate anyone. You don't have to love or even like everyone, but please, do not hate. It is a disease which spreads easily from one man to the next, and for it there is only one cure: love. This is why I end every post with love. It is important to know you are respected and loved in this world, even by one other person. If you know this fact, you will notice a change in your attitude towards yourself and others and life in general.
For a brief time last year, I started to genuinely hate certain people, and it frightened me of what sheer malice I was capable of. I have since resolved those feelings of bitterness and jealousy and anger, and while I may not get along with those people, I certainly don't have any ill will or animosity toward them. I am starting to return to the loving life that I once lived so fully and devoutly, and it continually gives me the hope I need to keep going.
4. Eat Right
I admit it: I have not been the best candidate for this one. I love sweets and red meat and soda and all assortments of processed junk food that is probably doing a number on my system that I don't realize. But I've been getting better. Over the last year I may not have been the happiest person in other arenas, but when I was cooking or baking or eating good food, all those problems seemed to go away. This is a simple matter of putting the right things into your body so you maintain balance physically, therefore maintaining balance mentally. Cut back on fatty foods, fast foods, and fake foods, and eat full meals three times a day, at regular intervals, and I can almost guarantee you'll be feeling a lot better.
Also, if you don't already make your own meals, try cooking. Even if you think you're terrible at it, just try it. Keep trying until you find something you can make and make well, then find something else, and something else, and something else. Experiment. Find your own way of cooking things. This too will make you feel good about yourself- every little success will add to the optimism you need to have in life.
5. Entertain Yourself with Good Things
This is a simple one that comes easily to me, and doesn't really need that much explanation. The idea is that what you sense (see, hear, feel, do...) and what you put into your mind, is going to influence how you think. Therefore, listen to happy music, read a good book, watch an encouraging movie, play a beautiful and positive game.
As far as music is concerned, I have that one down pat. I have built playlists for myself which I share with my friends to keep spirits up. You can listen to them on my Grooveshark account under the username EmilyFalcon.
I've also grown accustomed to starting and ending my day with a set of positive and uplifting videos and music, starting with The Speech from The Great Dictator, moving onto Arrival of the Birds and Transformation by The Cinematic Orchestra, followed by Radical Face's Welcome Home, and finally ending with the chipper and always smile-inducing song The Obvious Child by one of the best musicians ever, Paul Simon. I keep these tabs open in my browser, and whenever I start to feel sad or angry or depressed, I quickly switch to whichever one is the farthest opposite to what I'm experiencing, and press play. It works like a charm every time.
Similarly, I've started to save and/or bookmark links and images and such that make me especially happy. Take this animated gif my friend Matt sent to me today, for example. You can't look at that and not be happy.
I've taken reading back up again as well. It used to be a daily habit of mine to read from two books at a time before going to bed every night. One book would be a piece of fantasy/fiction or a comic book, which would encourage me to do better at my craft, and the other would be a novel, nonfiction book, or piece of classic literature, which would expand my knowledge and improve my mindset. I received two gifts from my family for Christmas, and decided this was a sign I needed to return to that habit. On my table right now are the books Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel H. Pink. Reading not only improves your thinking capacity, but it also serves as a boredom deterrent and a distraction from problems which might weigh too heavily on your mind.
6. Trust and Hope- Faith is Your Friend
This is one I'm going to be struggling with a lot. I once was filled with faith, hope, and trust, but the last two years of my life shattered all that I knew and filled my mind and heart with doubt and paranoia. But now I'm recovering, and I'm realizing that all the friends that have the most to offer are still standing there, supporting me, willing to help me along.
My fear of abandonment is nearly abolished, and I can believe in my friends again, and it is a wonderful feeling.
Nobody is working to bring me down, the universe is not against me, and life is not a conspiracy to drive me crazy.
Simply hoping in tomorrow, and trusting that your friends will be there for you no matter what. Not reading too much into what they say or do, and acknowledging that they simply want to be your friend, will help you so much in the long run.
All these steps boil down to having the right frame of mind and maintaining self-esteem. Take care of yourself and be optimistic.
It is up to you to change your world, and if you can change your mindset, you can do anything you set your mind to.
Live, love, and be happy.
Thank you for staying by my side this past year,
You have been a support to me even if you do not realize it.
Love you all,
Have a blessed and wonderful day!
Emily J Sampson