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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't Lose Your Smile

By Silvia Uribe

We know that a positive attitude is of the essence in times of despair, but how can we achieve this when we have everything against us, or at least, when it seems that way? When circumstances are pulling us down, and everything that can go wrong does, we feel as if we're in an exhausting, bloody boxing match, and we just want to throw in the towel. It's then when we have to remember that positivism is not a destination, but a path. It's one that should be traveled one day at a time. To successfully travel this path, only two tools are required: decision and action.

Living life with a positive outlook is a convenient principle by which to live. It leads us to success. Applied to any situation, it can make our lives less difficult and way more enjoyable. When problems arise, we can choose not to get preoccupied (decision), but to occupy our resources to counter the situation (action). Things will start to feel different, and they could actually end up being very different. The concept is rather simple. When we get busy, we are not powerless spectators, and receptors of what comes our way (as those who get preoccupied can be), but we start to generate situations and results that change the game more in our favor.

Let's take the present layoff threat as an example. If we get preoccupied and overwhelmed, we can create a bigger problem for ourselves. Our attention to detail at work may be reduced. Our low morale can affect our team. And, contrary to improving our chances to stay in our position, we might be making the situation worse and more immediate. Consider also that no one wants to be with a "loser", so our friends and acquaintances may disappear, making us feel even more isolated and depressed.

However, if we stay positive, we might be able to improve our circumstances and keep our job. Now, if worse comes to worse, we might, at the very least, gain some allies for our job-hunting endeavor.

Positivism is a strong shield for all battles. It can protect us from depression, from seeing the tree and not the forest, and from focusing on the problems as opposed to the solutions. It can also help us to see opportunities where others don't. Forget about asking, "why me and why now?" - Why not? After all, we are - excuse the cliché - but one more grain of sand on the beach.

When we get a "negativity syndrome attack" in which we see no possible solution to our problems, and our hearts and minds only beat to the sound of "this is the end", we should stop and collect ourselves. As bad as our situation may be, the reality is that nothing lasts forever. We should not get too used to the good times or suffer too much during the bad times. As the Jewish wisdom tells us, "This too shall pass." In Spanish we say "No hay mal que dure cien años." We will bounce back.

It's disheartening to hear about parents who, in profound negativity, take extreme measures and decide to kill their children and then kill themselves because of the financial distress. It just goes to show to what degree priorities and values have changed. Maybe we should turn back to a more humble way of living. Maybe we should be saving for the difficult times and not spending so much energy in "keeping up with the Jones."

Comfort and status should never take precedence over human life. This is only an example of how far negativity can take us if we allow it to grow inside our minds and permeate our souls. We are not immune. It only takes a little distraction on our part to slide into a free fall, if we don't pay attention and make a conscious decision to stay positive.

Don't loose your smile! Bad times are the best times to do some introspection and learn about our capability to overcome problems. They are times to find creative solutions for our families and for us.

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