I'm really not certain when or where the change happened, but it did!

Somewhere in the last twelve months of my life... I stopped being the Tim, everybody knows.

Bad things started to happen. Real bad! The kind of stuff you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and they were happening in my life.

And so, I'm brought to this point in my life. Sitting on a bench, at the beach, thinking about how things got to where they are and why.

Funny thing is... I'm sitting on a bench at the beach. How can you feel miserable sitting in the sun, listening to the sounds of the crashing waves of the ocean?

Yet, there I was.

I was having a party, a pity party to be exact. I invited three people and they all showed up... me, myself and I. I don't have to tell you (but I will), when the three of us get together, and commiserate, we can turn winning the lottery into a negative. I mean, think of it. You win that kind of money and every one's going to want something. I just don't want the hassle!

Have you ever been in that place?

Ever caught yourself being resentful of things you normally wouldn't even pay attention to?

Well, that's where I was on this particular morning. Sitting there with the sun and the breeze on my face. The smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves. It was to put it mildly, a picture perfect day in southern California. And I could have been sitting on an ice field somewhere in the Antarctic for all I knew.

I'm not going to bore you with all of the details of what was going on in my life and if I did I'm sure you could come up with a list that makes mine pale in comparison, but I had a lot going on! The bigger question for me was, how did I get to this point?

I'm confident that if we were to gather a group of experts in the field of psychology, there would be as many explanations as there were people in the room and yet it's really a whole lot easier than that.

Somewhere over the past year, I had changed what things mean to me. I'm not sure exactly when or even why, but I had allowed myself to stop filtering the events of my life. That specifically, is where things started to head in the wrong direction.

It's not like I've never had challenges in my life. If you're alive, there are going to be things that aren't exactly the way you expected them to be. It's part of what makes us human. Part of what makes us grow and become more. I know that and I hope and assume that you do as well.

The question is not when will my life be exactly the way I think it should be and completely free of anything I don't want. It's, what will these things mean to me?

Anything... and I mean anything, can have more than one meaning.

I say; "Here's a million dollars. Do what ever you want with it." The responses will be as different as the number of people I say that to. One person will be so excited, they can't hardly stand them self. One person will think only of what it is I want in return (there must be a catch). Still, another person will think of all of the wonderful things they can do for someone else with the money. As I said, if I made the offer to twenty people, I'd get twenty different responses.

So, what's the difference?

Why was I sitting on this bench soaking up the sun having a pity party?

Why do so many other people do the same thing?

State of mind, attitude, frame of mind, whatever you want to call it, that's what it is. For most of my adult life, if you asked me how I was, the response you'd get was; "Outstanding, but I'll get better!"

Some people might find that to be a little "pollyannaish" (not sure that's a word), but that was always my response.

Question; Do you think everything was always perfect in my life when I said that?

By making that statement, was I being naive to the world around me?

Was I just being another mindless PMA'er (Positive Mental Attitude)?

Absolutely not however, I noticed as I sat there that morning in all of my miserable glory, that my response to people had changed quite a bit over the past twelve months. It had changed to more of a quiet, low-toned... "I'm O.K." or "I'm doing alright". I had over the course of the last year gone to the opposite end of the spectrum, about a half step away from... "I've been better!" or"Pretty lousy, thanks for asking!"

I had changed... and not for the good.

There are lots of people who would say I was just being honest. Prior to that, I was pretending.

Excuse me? I can hear them saying; "Well, Tim, it was getting kind of annoying anyway to hear you were always outstanding." I'm not imagining this, I've actually been told this before.

So what's the big deal? Who cares if I'm not Mr. Happy? What difference does it make if I allow myself to get into a funk? It's my life, I can be miserable if I want to, right?

Thanks for asking!

This is what I realized that morning at my pity party:

Everything is not always perfect in my life. No, this was not some new revelation. Perfect is not possible. I have never tried to be perfect however, I have always looked to be the best I could be and make the most out of any situation.

How do you do that? How do you or how do I, make the most of every situation? To begin with, you have to look for all of the possible meanings when something happens that isn't exactly according to your plans. Sometimes when you don't get the result you're looking for it's a blessing in disguise. One of my favorite quotes is; "The only difference between challenges and opportunities is the words we use to describe them to ourselves!"

In other words, when something isn't going according to plan, it may not be a bad thing. It could be that this new result, the one we didn't want opens the door to a whole new way of thinking. If you can predict everything in your life exactly the way it's going to turn out in advance, you're very likely not growing or expanding. Life is probably... well quite frankly, boring! If you can predict everything what are you learning in life? If you're not learning you're not growing and if you're not growing you're...

Ray Kroc (of McDonald's fame) said; "When you're green you're growing and when your ripe, you rot!"

We all have a need for adversity and variety in our lives. It's what keeps us learning. It's what makes us human. What builds us into who we are with all of our character flaws and imperfections, is what makes us interesting and unique.

But what about me? What had changed over the last year of my life?

Simple! When I said I was "Outstanding, but I'll get better!", I was setting a tone for the way I viewed my world. No, I wasn't always feeling as positive as my statement would indicated, but I was setting a standard for myself. I was also creating my filter for the world. I was creating my attitude and a very positive one at that!

I've already said that everything is not always perfect in my life, and yet, with a positive filter on things, I am more resourceful.

Let's take a quick look at that...

Many studies have been done over the years involving student performance in school. Typically, they will take a group of students of equal ability and divide them in two. One group will have a teacher who is informed that they are above average in their learning ability and should excel well above their peers. The other groups teacher will be told that the students are underachievers and likely will have to be held back a year or go into remedial studies if they don't improve.

At the end of a school year, the two groups are tested and guess what happens. It's no surprise to find that the group with the teacher who had high expectations were at a level at least a year ahead of the group with a teacher who had no hope. Both groups were exactly the same and yet the results were dramatically different. Why?

It wasn't the students. It was the attitude or filters of the teachers. Now it's possible that one teacher was a better educator than the other but, the overriding factor was that one teacher was filled with positive beliefs and hopes for high achievement while the other was filled with negative beliefs and little or no hope for success.

If we approach every situation with the belief that there is a solution or there is something positive that can come from it then can you guess what we'll get?

Conversely, if we approach every situation from a negative point of view what are we going to get?

I've heard people say, "I'm not negative... I'm a realist." You mean you're a pessimist! If your view of the world is always negative, you will never be disappointed. You'll always get more of the same. You'll get disappointment, distrust, poor results, poor health and pretty much anything else miserable you can come up with! It's easy to be negative. It doesn't require any effort whatsoever. Being negative means you never have to put out any energy. I mean, why bother? It's not going to work out anyway. Being negative is safe. Eventually, people will not want to be around you, except to commiserate on how bad things are and eventually, you'll get tired of those people and then you'll be alone. Alone means you don't have to deal with relationship issues. I mean there could really be something to this whole negativity thing. Naw that would be too positive!

If you want more of what life has to offer, you have to look for the possibilities. Viewing things with a positive filter allows you to do that. If a situation isn't exactly what you expected, being positive helps you get resourceful.

Being positive affects your physiology! Ever notice when you're really feeling upbeat that you tend to stand more upright and more energized? Better posture, means better health!

Being positive makes people want to be around you and makes them want to help you! Unless we're looking for someone to commiserate with, we like to be around positive people. It's just plain more fun!

Being positive sets a new standard for you. As I've said earlier, I don't always feel outstanding when I say it, but I set a level of expectation for myself and others around me when I say it! The impact on others can be crucial for you. Those around you who like the standard will stick around and hope it rubs off on them. Those who don't will flee like the wind and who do you really want to surround yourself with any way?

Being positive is not "pollyanish". It is one of the most empowering gifts you can give yourself. It's one gift I'm glad I gave myself many years ago and one I'm glad I reclaimed that day at the beach!

As Zig Ziglar says, "Positive thinking won't let me do anything, but it will help me do everything, better than negative thinking!"

Positive thinking is not going to turn me into an NBA starter at the age of 45 and standing a whopping 5'10". I mean, that's just not going to happen! It will however help me make better decisions and find solutions I wouldn't have seen before with a negative outlook.

Am I perfect? Not a chance!

Am I positive? Absolutely! I can't think of any way I'd rather be!

Author's Bio: 

It's his easy going approach to the most complicated topics of life that keep folks coming back again and again. His company offers a total approach to wellness both mental and physical. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area look him up to go for a great run to the ocean! You can also find him on the web at www.inspiredtolive.com