Strive for the B+ Lifestyle

I have written a giant B+ on the chalkboard in my kitchen. That’s all it says. The family seems to enjoy it, the dog is intrigued, the dishwasher repairman must be wondering what the heck goes on around here, and visitors ask what kind of parent I am for promoting B level achievements — that is, until they understand how to pronounce the sign correctly: be positive.B+

After reading Attitude is Everything, you may have experienced one of three things: nodding your head in agreement since it sounded logical, feeling an internal sense of enlightenment, or absolutely nothing since this may not resonate with you just yet. But trust me, one day you will realize how such a simple concept — making a conscious effort to have a positive attitude — holds so much.

“But I have a crappy attitude!” you may be thinking, grasping your screen with both hands and shaking it aggressively. “How can I get a more positive attitude?” your thought process continues. Ok, first release your screen (you really need to stop that, you know) and proceed with the following tips that work for me.

1.) Surround yourself with those who bring positive value to your life. You know, the people who make you feel happy after having spent time with them? Well, spend more time with them.

2.) Figure out what makes you laugh and do it often. When you laugh, you’re on your way to having tons of natural dopamine surfing around in your brain and a happier overall feeling. And the best news of all? Laughter is free. Whoever or whatever makes you laugh is what’s prescribed here because the happier you physically feel, the more positive attitude you’ll have.

So what makes you laugh? That’s your homework assignment for the day.

Read a great book penned by your favorite comedian, call that funny friend or cousin whose stories always give you a stomach laugh (when you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, you can’t breathe for a moment, and if you just drank something you’ve spit it all over whatever was in front of you). You could even walk slowly by your cat hiding under the couch so he can triumphantly attack your foot with his paw, or pull an innocent prank on your co-worker by putting tape across the bottom of his computer mouse….the list is endless!

One thing I love is to watch the opening monologue of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon @FallonTonight before going to bed instead of the news. The news is just such a downer. No one should have depressing headlines be the last thing their brains process before falling asleep. Go ahead and peruse the news during the day so you’re an informed citizen, but leave that stuff out of your evening routine.

Another thing to leave out of your evening routine is social media, especially if you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This is apparently a real thing! It’s defined by Urban Dictionary as, “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” So if you really care that Mildred from your book club may be throwing a beach party you weren’t invited to and, heaven forbid, will be posting ocean-front photos you aren’t included in for all the world to notice, then stop scrolling through your feed on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. before bedtime because it will just make you sad. Seriously, how the heck are you supposed to wake up happy when you just cried yourself to sleep?! Mildred probably got a wicked sunburn that day at the beach, anyway.

But I digress about Mildred.  I’m no psychologist, but can tell you that switching from night time news to humor before catching some Zs has made a notable difference in my mood the following morning. And if I wake up in a good mood, I’m more inclined to have a positive attitude that day.

The more detailed answer to what gets me laughing is actually Jimmy Fallon @jimmyfallon with a side of Saturday Night Live @nbcsnl. Those things get my dopamine flowing. I love to laugh. And I’ve finally figured out that laughing is my runner’s high. And bonus! I get those benefits without actually having to run. I much prefer swimming, but that nugget shall unfold in a later blog. And how fabulous that Jimmy is on Monday-Friday, with SNL on Saturdays!? Great, except what to get me laughing on Sundays? I have a solution for that too. It’s called DVRing past episodes I may have missed during the week, or one of the many other comedy shows out there.

So get yourself laughing soon!  Then tell us, what works for you?  We might like to give it a try too.


Attitude is Everything

There is a happiness conspiracy afoot and I’m starting to get concerned. Messages of happiness have been pummeling me from all directions. It’s barely noon and I’ve already seen happy-faced emojis sprinkled throughout my incoming text messages, a “Life is Good” bumper sticker on the car in front of me at school drop off, inspirational quotes in my Facebook feed from fabulously happy websites, and a talking piece of pottery telling me to be happy. Well, that last one isn’t entirely accurate. My daughter gave me this potterylovely little decorative dish for my birthday. It’s designed to hold odds and ends, and the words “be happy” are painted on the bottom (of which which I was reminded this morning after picking up the earrings it was happily holding for me).

Don’t get me wrong; these messages of happiness are most welcome. I certainly prefer them to the alternative: receiving devil-faced emoji-filled text messages, seeing abused puppy photos posted on social media or an Anarchy bumper sticker plastered on the back of a car weaving in and out of traffic and barely missing a pack of third graders biking to school. I appreciate posts and encounters with bright and happy images, and beautiful scenes of nature just as much as the next person. But what seems to be missing along with all those happy images and inspirations is the instruction manual on how to reach that happy state. Are seeing the positive images alone supposed to make one happy? Is it simply all about expressing gratitude? Or can one just “be happy” as my pottery implies? Well, I don’t believe you can feign happiness for very long, nor believe it’s healthy to try. So I’m going to let you in on my little secret about how to go about being happy — yes, I’d like to help the happiness conspiracy out there complete its mission.

It’s all about attitude.

Thirteen years ago, I came across a quote photocopied on a sunny yellow sheet of paper. The quote was titled, Attitude, and was accredited to a man named Charles R. Swindoll (don’t worry, I didn’t know who that was either.) My husband and I decided to tack it up on the wall in our home office because it seemed like a positive message to have on the wall of a young family (as an aside, I like to hang up bits and pieces of fun finds in my home). It wouldn’t be until years later, though, that I’d realize just how spot on that darn quote was and what a profound impact it would ultimately have in my daily life.

“What the heck did the quote say?!” I can hear you screaming at your screen while giving it a good shake. Well, wait no further. It read like this…

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Booyah! I challenge you to wake up each morning with that reminder emblazoned on your coffee mug and not have a better day. Actually, scratch that. It would have to be one very large coffee mug to fit that entire quote and I’m not so sure said container of coffee is particularly healthy. So how about we just go with one simple thing printed on your average-sized coffee mug instead: B+. Did you catch that? The plus sign after the letter B? No, no — it’s not the grade I received on every math test in high school. It’s a simple message to be read as follows: be positive. And when you’re taking a sip from that emblazoned mug, everyone in your home will see it and benefit from the message too.

Make the choice right now to react in a more positive way to situations in your life. Your attitude is the one thing you actually have control over. You can either get through your day with a positive one or a crappy one. The choice is yours. I hope you choose the former and make yourself, those around you, and the pottery gods a happier bunch. I truly believe that if you want happiness in life, having a positive attitude is what helps you get there. So what do you say?