It’s been a difficult month. Hell, it’s been a difficult year. There’s a lot of bad news out there. This post is not about that. Not today.
I consider myself to be a pretty positive person. On the Clifton StrengthsFinder my #2 Strength is Positivity. That can mean different things to different people, but for me it goes a little something like this:
By nature, you genuinely feel pleased with yourself and life in general when you do tasks correctly and behave in accordance with your core values. Driven by your talents, you enjoy socializing. You are stimulated by the company of others. Interestingly, you are just as comfortable spending time alone thinking through things. Instinctively, you freely give of yourself. You are eager to share what you possess and know. This includes, but is not limited to, tangible objects, money, ideas, skills, knowledge, food, shelter, and time. Because of your strengths, you probably have a reputation for making individuals as well as entire groups smile and laugh. When difficulties arise, you often tell comical stories and light-hearted jokes. To cheer people up, you can reenact amusing situations or make funny faces. Chances are good that you are more optimistic about life when you can devote yourself to individuals for whom you feel much fondness and affection (www.gallupstrengthscenter.com).
So scientifically speaking, positivity is a big part of who I am. Despite the difficulties in my own life, in my community, in my country, and in the world, it’s important that I also see the good and sometimes surround myself with it. Why?
It doesn’t mean I don’t care about the rest. In fact, I invest a lot emotionally in the suffering of others and try to be there for people, but sometimes I need to focus on just the good to give me strength to face the rest. Today is one of those days.
It is my birthday, after all, I’ll have hope if I want to.
I love birthdays. It’s the one day a year where a lot of people say to you, “hey, I’m glad you were born!” People basically have to be nice to you all day. What’s not to like?
So in honor of my ## birthday, here are some things I’m grateful for.
1) Nature. Just being outside, breathing in fresh air, working in the garden or walking through the woods. That’s peace, right there. As Wendell Berry said in his brilliant poem “The Peace of Wild Things”:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
2) Really, really good music. On a recent drive through Iowa I listened to everything from bluegrass to classical and everything in between. I just love good music. I love thoughtful lyrics. I love when you can feel the soul of the musician coming through a song. I’m looking at you, Marcus Mumford.
3) Really, really good food. Enough said.
4) Really, really good stories. The one’s that keep you up at night because you have to finish reading the book or watching the show. Those are the stories and characters that never leave you. Someday I want to write a story like that, a story that keeps people up at night.
5) Children. Seriously, talk about perspective. I’m in a bad mood because my team didn’t win or someone was rude to me at work. My kid smiles at me and it’s over. Nothing else matters. Or, more recently, I’m sad and my kid writes me a card and gives me lots of hugs. It truly doesn’t get any better than that.
I think the trick is making time for the things in your life that would be on your list. That’s what I’m doing today. Happy Birthday to me!
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