I’ve Lost My Week. Have You Seen It?

I can’t believe it’s Thursday! Where the heck did the week go? Oh, that’s right, to the 40 or so hours I’ve put in for my clients. The first of the year is an extremely busy time between tax preparation and clients going full speed at their New Year’s “To Do” lists, so when I woke up this morning, feeling a little burnt out, I knew I needed to get my self-talk under control and give my motivation a boost before I tackled the tasks on today’s plate.

Here’s a quote I read that really speaks to the power of positive thinking and a good attitude:

I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. – Martha Washington

You might snicker at the thought that I can control my happiness by the way I think about my life, but I’ve put these beliefs into practice, and I testify to their validity. A positive attitude always helps me see past the circumstances about which I’m not 100% stoked.

For example, 40 hours for my clients results in not being able to write any posts for my blog, post any new tweets, check out Facebook, or watch new movies. All of which means my right-brain hasn’t been able to play as much as it likes.

So instead of thinking about the things I didn’t get to do this week, I remind myself what I have accomplished, both professionally and personally: more hours billed, more money earned; added words to my manuscript; discovered a new horror market for my short stories, read about 150 more pages of The Onion Girl; enjoyed a homemade dinner with my daughter every evening; and spent quality one-on-one time with my daughter every day.

Therefore, even though this week hasn’t been the most productive for my creative endeavors, I just needed to remind myself this week is not indicative of every week, and I focus on the positive.

You see, it’d be easy to lose myself in the day-to-day grind of responsibilities, but if I keep my head in a positive place, focused on today and its possibilities, my attitude always follows suit, and my day always looks brighter.

Have you discovered the connection between your attitude, your circumstances, and your happiness?

12 comments

  1. Nope, I’m not snickering at because I also happen to believe that we are in control of our own happiness. A positive attitude makes a world of difference. Every day we’re given a choice to look at the world and imagine all the potential that is awaiting us. I choose to see the world as an abundant place where absolutely anything is possible even if it does not always seem probable.

  2. Okay, I’ve been meaning to ask a horror writer who is also a positive thinker some questions, and you happened into my life today so I must be supposed to ask you. I am a habitually negative thinker and I believe I watch horror to take out aggression. I do believe that thoughts are things and I know I have to focus on being more loving towards myself and the world, but how does one do that while being fascinated with stories about suffering and revenge? What is the appeal of horror movies to a naturally optimistic person who is coming from a place of love? Can I become a “bucket of blood half full” person without giving up horror movies?

  3. Erin,

    Oh my, this could turn into a lengthy response and/or discussion. 🙂

    First, I don’t know that many people are “naturally optimistic” unless their lives are easy from the get-go.

    I think most people live their lives, doing their best just to exist, then one day realize (or learn) they have a choice–be happy or be miserable. Some people realize it sooner than others. A lot of people won’t ever learn it.

    Life is never all peaches and cream. You’re always gonna run into some type of obstacle, whether it’s internal or external. That’s a constant; you can depend on life to stomp on you once or five times. The variable is how you choose to react.

    I’ve lived through some hard circumstances and found an optimistic approach to all situations improved my day-to-day life and overall happiness. Did that positive thinking change the circumstance? Not right away, no. But it did help me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t allow my mind to get me stuck in a neverending repetition of that particular circumstance. I chose to be happy whilst knee-deep in crap.

    The thing about optimism or positive thinking is: the crap in life still exists; but, how you choose to view the crap is different. Pretty soon the different perspective leads you out of the crap and on toward greener pastures. Eventually you’ll step in another pile of crap, or fall face first; however, by then, the choice to be happy in spite of what you just stepped in is so much a part of who you are, you simply wipe yourself off, and keep moving forward.

    Second, no matter how positive or optimistic a person is, there are still two sides to everyone. Most people deny this duality. Even more people strive to eliminate it, which results in the “black or white” mentality.

    I believe no person is entirely good and no person is completely bad. Yeah, yeah. I’m sure plenty of people could give me cases of serial killers who they believe to be 100% evil or saints worshiped as 100% good. And, perhaps, there are exceptions to my way of thinking. But, for the most part, there is a balance in everything. Or, there should be.

    Hence, a solid, unshakable positive approach to life allows me to fully immerse myself in an attraction to the darkest aspects of human nature and embrace those aspects without fear of losing who I choose to be. Why?

    I know humans can rise above their depravities. I know we are more than the sum of our parts. Again, at least I hope we are. 🙂 And the sick and twisted side of me loves to feel what only horror books and movies allow me to experience.

    Sometimes that’s fear. I don’t allow fear to rule my life and watching a horror movie is a controlled situation in which I’m safe to experience fear. Sometimes that’s indulging other – um, I don’t want to say fantasies – sinister musings about people in various situations.

    Horror lit and films are the best forms of expression for the parts of ourselves we work so hard to deny. I don’t deny any part of myself. Hell, I couldn’t even if I wanted to; I write stories heavy in horror and dark fantasy. However, I do get a teensy bit nervous when it comes time to share my work with strangers. Will they report me to Children’s Services for fear that my imagination is a little too active? I’m learning to ignore that voice in my head. The others, I still listen to. 😉

    There are macabre questions we all ask and I love some of the answers offered by horror authors and filmmakers. The exploration of subject matter that mainstream society works so hard to hide fascinates me. It is addictive but there are only a few addicts willing to stand up in a crowd and declare themselves “Happy People Who Love Horror.”

    I think a lot of people just don’t realize everything’s not black or white. It is possible to enjoy the light as much as the dark. I guess most horror fans are considered unhappy, pessimistic souls. Or am I generalizing? I know people probably wonder how I can call myself a “horror fan” while my blog is filled with the ramblings of an obviously happy person who looks at the brighter side of life.

    To me it’s simple: I am a happy person because I allow myself to explore every facet of life–the good, the bad, and the freaky as hell. But when I’m done with my explorations, I remember I have a choice about what to do with the treasures I uncovered: look at the positive or drown in the negative.

    If I never experience any situations that test my ability to choose the positive path, could I really call myself a positive person? Honestly, I don’t think I could without being a hypocrite.

    It’s easy to be happy when everything’s going your way. The real you comes out when the shit hits the fan. And that’s probably another reason I enjoy horror. What better way to explore the human condition than throw a vulnerable teenager in the path of a psycho? Or unleash on man what he’s created (e.g. technology) then watch how he reacts?

    Okay, I think I’ve written far more than you probably wanted to know; therefore, I’ll leave my response to “love” for another time.

    I hope all that made sense. Long story short: No, you don’t have to give up horror movies to be an optimistic person or a positive thinker.

    If you prefer to carry this conversation on outside of my blog, feel free to e-mail me. My address is over there >> in the sidebar under “Plagiarism Is Mean.”

  4. Leah, it was not too much information. And I do want to discuss this further over email. Also, as a part of my desire to start or join a movement towards “new sincerity” in the blogosphere, I am gonna stick my neck out and let you in on my secret new blog here on WordPress. http://coaxingdownstairs.wordpress.com
    It’s an ongoing account of my gentle weight loss, but I’m discovering the weight loss is also a metaphor for stripping away defenses like sarcasm, gossip, ridicule, negativity and cynicism. Its a very frightening experience for me to be so honest in public, but like the feeling from watching horror movies, the fear is a thrill.

    1. Feel free to e-mail me anytime, Erin. I do my best to respond within 24-48 hours.

      I share your enthusiasm for “new sincerity” and my goal with this blog has always been to just be me. I live an honest, open book lifestyle, and from the feedback I’ve received, it comes across in my writing.

      I know a blog is supposed to have a target audience, or even tailored subject matter, but mine doesn’t really. I’m someone who thinks about 20 different things in the span of one minute, so why shouldn’t my blog, which is my journal, showcase who I am? Thus, I’ve organized the blog to be easy to search and browse, but the post topics vary based on my mood, inspiration, and goings on.

      Thank you for sharing your secret blog. Er, formerly secret blog 🙂 You did post a link here so I hope you’re prepared for people to check it out when and if they see the link. I’m going to visit it now. And I’m glad you’re learning that weight loss isn’t about the external as much as the internal. Yes, what we eat is important; how we think and talk to ourselves is more important. That’s huge in the whole process. I can’t wait to follow your journey and watch you grow.

      Public honesty is fun and scary. The thing to remember is don’t take people’s reactions to your openness personally. Now, a well-thought response always garners a reply. But the emotional reactions are usually best left to cool off because those people tend to speak before they think. Just my opinion.

  5. I don’t mind if people go to it, but I called it my secret blog because I have not promoted it and I’m not sure if I’m going to. Promoting In It For The Kills was hard work, but at least now I know how to get a blog to show up on Google a lot and how to connect with other bloggers.

  6. Fascinating topic!

    My oldest daughter is a big horror fan and, while I’m not really into it myself (I prefer my scares a’ la Aliens, etc.) I’ve allowed her to dip her toes a bit. She’s 13, so some of it I thought just too violent, but she’s been to friends’ houses and seen movies I wasn’t too thrilled about, “Drag Me to Hell” (I think I got the name right) was one. She’s a pretty well-adjusted kid, though, and likes to talk about some of the movies, particularly the “artistic” aspects. So, I’m learning to just let some of it alone and trust her.

    Over the years I’ve gone back and forth on the cup-is-half-empty POV myself. I tend to be a “brooder” and it’s so easy to get stuck in the pessimism trap. Quite often I’ve had to pull myself out of it because I realized I was making everyone around me miserable as well. Turns out, some of it had to do with my being bored and unsatisfied with what I was doing in my life. Once I realized that and made a step toward a new direction (writing), my automatic pessimism eased up. I certainly didn’t become Mary Poppins, but I’m not a miserable wench every day anymore either!

    Eileen

  7. Drag Me to Hell is pretty mild in my opinion. I saw my first horror movie when I was 9 (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and I turned out okay – least that’s what I tell myself *grin* – so which films we allow our children to watch is totally subjective.

    I don’t ever look at a movie and say, “Oh, it’s rated R. I can’t let the kid watch it.” Instead I look at the content and I ask the kid what she thinks. Adults don’t give kids enough credit. My family’s always thought I was wrong to let her decide, but I’ve found this gives her the opportunity to make decisions right for her instead of right for me. *shrugs*

    Guess I’ll have to wait until she’s older to find out if I ruined her. *wink* For the record, she doesn’t like scary movies. I think because she’s so logical and believes in so many impossibilities that the scenarios in horror films feel too plausible for her. I’m hoping when she’s older I can get her on board the horror train though. 🙂 She enjoys comedies (Robin Williams is her fave) and sci-fi (Star Trek, X-Files episode “Kill Switch” and Fringe are her faves) and anything by Tim Burton.

    P.S. I’m definitely no Mary Poppins either; although, I do belt out “Spoon Full of Sugar” every now and then, much to the kid’s and cats’ dismay.

  8. Lol – I told my daughter about the above conversation and that you have horror links and she was on it! So, you have a new fan. (BTW, she LOVES Tim Burton fan and the only thing she wants for her birthday this year is to see Alice in Wonderland.)

    Gotta say Leah, you are the COOL parent! I’m finding it hard to change long-ingrained opionions, but I’m working on it. Thanks for a different look at things.

  9. Sweet! I hope she’ll enjoy the horror links.

    I snorted a little bit when I read the “cool parent” remark. I never thought about it like that. I just don’t want to be either her friend or her parent, do you know what I mean?

    I also remember all of the things I told myself I’d never do as a parent and I try to be as loyal to those principles as possible.

    Why is it we’re supposed to be “parents” when they’re under 18, but we’re allowed to be their “friends” when they’re over 18? The labels drive me bonkers and the logic behind them is sketchy. What, because she turns 18 I’m supposed to stop offering guidance, support, and boundaries? Just because she’s under 18 she’s not supposed to like hanging out with her mama? *shakes head*

    We are raised a certain way and we tend to believe that’s the way we should raise our children. We see how everyone else does it, and even if it doesn’t work, we follow in their footsteps. Perhaps it has to do with people’s religions or our culture. I don’t know.

    I just feel like I’m here to help her become the person she was meant to be — not the person I think she should be or the person society thinks she should be. I raise her to think for herself, evaluate the information she receives, and make decisions based on what is right for her and her life.

    Don’t get me wrong, raising an individual isn’t easy. By definition they won’t agree with what you say or the things you wish they’d be into or the clothes you’d like them to wear. I can no longer purchase anything pink for my daughter. She loves to dress “clashy.” So I have to go in public with her wearing an orange t-shirt featuring a peace sign of many colors with a teal, cotton miniskirt over dark blue jeans and tennis shoes. *shrugs* It could be worse. Oh wait, it is — she does not like horror movies! Ahhhh! Seriously though, if she has the confidence to wear her own style in public, I say more power to her. Sure, people look at me like I must be color blind to allow my kid to dress like that, but who cares?

    If I’ve done my job right as a parent, she’ll use that same confidence to stand up to peer pressure. Her self-image won’t be tied up in materialistic things or how other people see her or what might happen if she doesn’t have sex with a boy.

    What is going to happen if my daughter sees violence (or nudity or sexual situations) in a movie?

    Those things are everywhere nowadays.

    Example 1 – We were in a sporting goods store last weekend and a commercial for Viagra was playing on their big screens and over the big speakers. Families are shopping for snowsuits and camp equipment while a discussion about ED is being aired in the background. That just cracks me up. I never would’ve imagined it possible when I was growing up.

    Example 2 – We were watching Footloose on VH1, and I thought for sure the shower scene would be edited, but nope, male bums all over the place. Oops! By the way, she’s at the “Oh, that’s so gross” stage right now when it comes to “making out” or seeing a nude dude’s rump.

    Knowing her comfort level, I am able to figure out how to answer questions like, “Mom, what’s semen?” Yeah, she heard that word on . . . Investigation Discovery. Uh huh. One evening a few weeks ago, I was watching 48 Hours Mysteries while she played on the computer. Apparently, she was listening to the program from the other room and that’s the word she happened to pick up on. Since I knew she wouldn’t really want to know the in-depth explanation, I gave her a quick, sanitized version and told her when she wanted to know the full information to ask me again.

    The point is, if I tried to shield my daughter from violence, nudity, sex stuff and what not, she’d have to be locked in her room.

    Will she be so affected by a scene of fiction that her entire life will change course? I doubt it, especially when she’s allowed to have a voice in the types of content she watches.

    Hell, most people let their kids watch the news and that’s enough violence and negativity to ruin my day. I can’t imagine how it affects a kid’s outlook on what life is like in the “real” world.

    So we have to teach our kids the skills necessary to live in today’s world. Good morals aren’t genetic. Good ethics aren’t taught in public school. Gawd, don’t even get me started on manners. Open communication is key. If kids know they can talk to you, and trust that they won’t be punished for being honest, I’ve found they’ll do both. Again, like individuality, open communication isn’t always easy. See aforementioned semen conversation. But I’d rather her ask me an uncomfortable question than ask someone else or worse not ask the question at all.

    If my daughter told me she watched Drag Me to Hell, knowing it’s a movie I wouldn’t allow her to see in my house, I’d be stoked she felt she could tell me and double stoked she chose to be honest with me about something she knew I’d see as “wrong.” But that’s just the way I see it. 😉

  10. HA – gotta agree on most of what you said.

    It’s really weird. I love my mom, but like a lot of people, I remember saying to myself, “I will NOT raise my kids like THAT!” And, so, what do I find myself doing? These words come out of my mouth so automatically they can’t possibly be processed through my brain! I turned to my husband one day and said, “My gawd, I’ve turned into my MOTHER.”

    It’s been a struggle and damned if my older daughter doesn’t get into situations or ask about things that I haven’t thought about what to say to her. I’m lousy at thinking on my feet. My husband is the better one for that – and he’s funny too,which helps diffuse bad situations. I’ve gotten better this last year, (trial and error, I guess), though every once in a while she’ll still throw me a zinger. But, through all this, I’m extremely proud to say, we’ve kept communication going – although sometimes through gritted teeth, maybe. Ups and downs aside, I’ve learned my daughter is a pretty level-headed kid who stands up for herself and her friends – and it makes me feel like I’ve done a decent job after all.

    Switching gears now, I had to laugh at the Viagra commercial. I’ve noticed about things like that that the kids are completely oblivious and it’s often the parents that feel uncomfortable! Adults know what it’s about, but the commercials use such ambiguous wording, it’s really just background noise to the kids. ‘Til they get older, of course – then, it’s ewwwwwww!

    Wish I felt good enough to keep going with this, but I caught a cold and feel like death warmed over right now.

    Take care!

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