“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” Max Planck

Sounds pretty simplistic doesn’t it? But would you rather live in a world full of positive attitudes or immerse yourself in negativity? Scientific studies done at the University of Texas and University of California Davis are showing that your attitude can have an impact on your health, either good or bad. Your attitude can change your behavior and your life. An organization affiliated with the University of California Berkley, Greater Good, the Science of a Meaningful Life, focuses its teaching and research on changing people and their lives, one at a time, to a more positive perspective. Their mission statement includes “The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”

Our country and our world are full of conflict, violence, strife and stress today. Everywhere we look we see people in pain and acting out in reaction to their hurt. I want to make a change in myself and those I love. I want to live a joyful life and I want happiness for every person in the world. Sound Crazy? Well maybe, but no crazier than thinking another war will finally bring us world peace.

The research has shown that if I change my attitude and the way I look at my experiences my outlook will change and my health both mental and physical will improve.(www.greatergood.berkeley.edu) I decided to give it a try. My life was full of conflict and stress. It was the common ones of today, loved ones suffering from depression and addiction, loved ones in pain due to difficulties with finances, relationships, jobs and not knowing where to go with their lives. Fortunately my own life is in a pretty good space, I’m retired from my first career and can live comfortably but not lavishly on my income but it hasn’t always been that way.

I started the practice of thinking about one thing I was grateful for as soon as I woke up in the morning a few IMG_0036months after I got the news that my husband was MIA. It was a survival mechanism in order to get myself out of bed and moving each day.  At first I focused on the easy ones. I was grateful for my children and the beautiful world we live in. I thought about them, what beautiful human beings they were and how many positive things they have contributed to the lives around them, then I would have to fight thoughts of the things they were struggling with like the loss of their dad and gently move my thoughts back to the good in their lives. Pretty soon it started becoming a habit. I’d wake up and with out any effort, my mind would flood with all the beautiful things I had to be grateful for in my life. Over time I noticed I was more enthusiastic about my day, not every day, I’m just like everyone else,  some days I just wanted to pull the covers over my head but I’d force myself to think of something good to get up for. It wasn’t easy but it definitely had a positive impact on my day.

My mantra had always been Attitude is Everything throughout my work life. I started out with a high school education and a family to look out for. This first thing I tackled was going back to school and getting a degree.  Juggling the family and classes not to mention homework was challenging. I soon learned that I had to keep positive and focus on the goal not the day to day pitfalls. When I finished I started my work life teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at the secondary level but soon realized it wasn’t going to work over the long haul. The schedule was great but the pay just didn’t cut it. I started my search the summer after my first year.

Life has been a steady progression of two steps forward and one back but the movement has always been forward. I credit my successes to my positivity. It isn’t always easy to keep looking up but it beats the alternative. It’s kept me healthy and happy most of the time.

This year has been one of the most difficult I’ve faced. The future is looking pretty grim. There is so much fear and violence generated by that fear. In this country we are still able to focus or propensity toward worry on purity of our food air and water and the protection of the environment. In other places people worry about their homes still being there in the morning and their loved ones still being among the living.

We are being besieged with rhetoric in the various media and by public personalities that increases our fear in order to gain our support for their agenda. As brothers and sisters in humanity we must see and embrace our sameness and not our differences. We cannot ignore evil but we also cannot paint all people of any group who are different from ourselves as being less human, less loving, less needy, less hungry than ourselves. We are on the verges of self destruction unless we change our mindset. Wars have never gained peace. Wars have created more division and mistrust. Wake up America and find the beautiful generous soul of this country that I believe is at our core.