Choosing the Positive
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When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.—Max Planck
Many years ago, I took care of an old man with Alzheimer’s.
For over six months, I fed him, gave him his showers, dressed him, kept him company, wiped his butt, and took him for walks. I also fended off his ‘crazy’ spurts—like when he tried to hit me all the way out of the house, then locked me out and was laughing maniacally through the window (Oh, yes. Ha. Ha. Ha.).
I took care of him because in the initial interview, I took to his wife—I really liked her. With dark circles under her eyes, she was completely overwhelmed, struggling to care for him 24/7. But, man … the love she showed her husband; the tender way she looked at him! He had no idea who she was, but still, she didn’t skip a beat. I wanted to help her, so I joined ship.
That period taught me a lot. I was in such a raw state in my own life that I could not bear to be touched. But, sometimes this old man could only be soothed by holding his hand. I’d have to hold his hand and go to this place of stillness inside myself, let that energy come across, and only then would he quiet whatever agitation might have stirred [him] up.
I would watch him for hours as he gazed outside. He saw things that I didn’t. I wondered what they were. I’d wonder if his glasses were magical, that through them he could view other worlds.
You could say he was suffering, but while I’ll never know for certain, I don’t think that was true. His mind was almost gone to another place, but for the most part, he seemed happy and healthy.
The people that really could have been suffering through this were his family members. His many children. His bright wife. But to suffer or not was their choice—and they chose not to. They consciously chose to take his Alzheimer’s in stride. To learn and grow as a family unit. Bond ever tighter. To request help when they needed it (enter me), and form a net of pure love to catch this man who meant so very much to them.
Alzheimer’s was a tragedy in that it took this man, while alive, from his family. It was a gift in that it allowed them an opportunity to grow—in spirit, as a family—in a way they may not have otherwise. They were lovely people.
My daughter has an extra chromosome [Down syndrome]. A lot of people like to say that she’s afflicted, that she’s suffering from it. I don’t know if she is. She doesn’t seem like she is. But, what do I know?
I like to think that she’s a maverick spirit that wanted to experience the world from a different perspective. I like to think that she’s pushing me to understand unconditional love. This little girl will never fit into a box, any box. The very nature of Down syndrome means that you don’t know what is going to happen next.
I need to love her as she is. In this very moment. With the future, as it unfolds, however it may be.
I think this is a lesson worth learning.—Meriah1
Practicing praise or gratitude in difficult situations brings the Lord’s Spirit and power into the situation. It uplifts you and others around you. It helps you to see things through a positive perspective. It gives you faith—faith in the Lord and faith even in the midst of negative circumstances—and faith is the victory. Prayer can change the situation, of course, but in bad situations, it’s often difficult to immediately have the faith you need to pray, because your natural reaction is to be saddened or dismayed or discouraged. Praise, on the other hand, works to counteract these negatives and to infuse your spirit—and your response to the circumstances around you—with faith, trust in the Lord, and positive spiritual energy.—Maria Fontaine2
In life there will always be difficulties. Circumstances will never be perfect while you are on earth and incased in your human body, so you will at times be tempted with fears and worries. However, the way to rise above those things is through keeping your eyes on Me—focusing on the light.
Focusing on the light is turning your sight away from the mud puddles of disappointments or fears or tough situations and to the brilliant, splashing fountain of My positive perspective. Instead of grimacing at the mud, you instead come and admire My spectacular fountain. You watch the beautiful colors rising up and crashing down. You cup your hands and drink of the refreshing waters. You take off your shoes and jump into the bubbling waters, splashing and drinking as you go.
You keep your eyes on Me, reminding yourself that I'm in control; you drink in My promises by reading them and thinking on them; you splash about joyously in My presence by praising Me in spite of your surroundings. That's focusing on the light!—Jesus, speaking in prophecy3
There is positive in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not all that obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard. The old me was content to sit back and just glance around. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad).
Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it. Everything—good and bad—is a learning experience, so, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something really positive, about every person or situation.—Dani4
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.—William James
Choosing a positive attitude is a process. We don't just choose it once and expect everything to be perfect from that moment on. We will still experience setbacks, delays, accidents, frustrations, arguments, fatigue, and fear. The secret is how we choose to react to these experiences. Do we want to let them ruin our day, or do we choose to pick ourselves up and look hopefully to the future again? We do have the power to choose. …
By choosing a positive attitude each day, we are actually attracting more positive experiences, and reducing the likelihood of negative experiences. You may have noticed that each experience often determines the quality of the next experience, causing a chain reaction in our lives. If one little thing goes wrong, it can throw off our plans for the rest of the day. In this context, it's easy to see how a positive attitude would be powerful. Rather than allowing one little thing to ruin our day, we would be able to shrug it off and continue on without a hitch.—Author unknown5
A joyful heart is good medicine.—Proverbs 17:226
Published on Anchor July 2013. Read by Irene Quiti Vera.
Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Originally published February 2007.
3 Originally published August 2008.