Positively On Track

333.8 pounds! That’s… hmmm… let me do the math… 1.6 pounds down from last week, and 85.2 pounds down since I started! But more importantily than that, it’s a sign that I’m starting to make progress once more! No more of this December “manage to maintain” garbage – I’m going down!

Yes, I’m excited. And why not? I really am starting to make some progress once more. And equally importantly, I’m working on staying positive about things. Because, let’s be honest here, there are two ways I can handle all of this effort: the positive way, and the negative way. The negative way sounds like this: “Well, I’ve lost 1.6 pounds. Sigh. 114.8 more to go. I’m never going to get there. Woe is me, I am fat.”

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‘Negative’ looks like this guy.

Positive, on the other hand, is focusing on the successes. Not in an irrational way (“Yay! I’ve lost the same three pounds again! Time to celebrate with a cheesecake!”), but in a way that acknowledges the hard work I’ve done and the progress I’m making. Yeah, I’ve got a whole lot of work to do. I understand that. I fully realize that, even if I manage to maintain the weight loss pace I’ve had since July, it’ll be at least October before I hit my target weight. Tons of work (all right, a hundred and fourteen pounds of work) lie between me and that goal, and there’s plenty of ways that it could go wrong and delay me further. But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m succeeding.

Being positive is a difficult thing, these days. If you watch the news, you’re bombarded by horrible news – the economy is tanking, some group hates some other group, something is causing cancer, you will die because a meteor will hit the earth and specifically your house. If you watch sitcoms, you are bombarded with negativity – most of the humor revolves around cutting other people down, or mocking them for their appearance or habits, or generally just being cruel and rude. If you watch dramas, you’re bombarded with the message that people are vicious and manipulative and generally out to get you. And if you make the mistake of catching a commercial, you learn that you are generally pathetic and ugly and stupid and your only hope of love and happiness is to buy a product. Negativity is everywhere.

You don’t have to join in on the party.

Start by smiling. It can make you happier, because our expressions control our moods as much as our moods control our expressions. Equally importantly, it makes others happier, too. Think about the last time you got a genuine smile from someone. How did it make you feel? Exactly. And you can do the same thing for others.

Once you start smiling, then start trying to think positively. Any time you catch yourself running down an idea (and you are an idea) – your own, or someone else’s – imagine yourself wearing a black hat. Then, imagine yourself taking that hat off and putting on a white hat. While you’ve got that white hat on, give yourself permission to look for ways the idea will work, or things that are good about it, or reasons why it should succeed. And yes, this sounds ridiculous. I know that. But I’m not saying that a ‘magic white hat’ will solve problems. I’m just suggesting a mental trick to catch yourself being negative, and to give your brain a chance to try out the other side of the argument, and thereby train yourself to start being a little more positive.

Being positive will, ultimately, make your life better. And not in a stupid “I read The Secret and now the universe will give me everything I want way”. It will make your life better because you aren’t actively trying to make it worse. Everyone gets rained on, after all. It’s up to you whether or not to go stomp in the puddles.

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