Thursday, November 12, 2015

Choosing optimism

 The Facebook un-reality

My Facebook posts tend to revolve around cute picture of the girls, funny stories of things they did, and personal achievements. My life looks pretty awesome on Facebook. Is it true? Yes. But not 100%. Of course I don’t live in a world that is all sunshine and unicorns. I rarely share the times when Matilda doesn’t nap or the challenges we currently have with her hitting and scratching and pulling hair. I don’t post about the times when Hans and the girls don’t see each other for days in a row because of his work schedule and their sleep schedule. I share the good parts of my life with the world. My social media presence is not an accurate portrayal of my day-to-day. It’s biased, it’s selective, and, yes, it looks like a brag board. But it’s not. At least that’s not my intent.

Choosing optimism

How I portray my life on social media is intentional. I’m intentionally choosing to portray the good stuff, hoping that I can create a top-down trickle-down optimism policy in my daily life. Life is hard. Life can be miserable, lonely, exhausting. And I can choose to focus on the tough times, or, as I tell the girls when they fall: I can get up, brush the dirt off, and go back to playing. I choose optimism as my public presence and I hope that rubs off into my daily life and attitude.

I share pictures like this one, taken at the fort in St. Augustine. Because I want to remember my girls having fun in the towers, spending some great quality time with their Meme (my mom), rather than remembering dragging a screaming Matilda out of a store and a whiney, tired Freja.

It’s a fine line. It’s important to get stuff off my chest before it mushrooms into a bigger problem. Constructive criticism and feedback from peers is invaluable. If I don’t share my struggles with friends and family, I’ll be bogged down with them in my own head. It’s important to analyze our failures and our difficulties in order to learn from them and improve on the future. But if I talk about them too much, if I dwell on them, I won’t be choosing optimism. I’ll be choosing to focus on the hard stuff in life instead of enjoying the good times.

And, really. I'll be glad if in 10 years I don't remember how crappy our NEW fridge/freezer. The one I have to defrost every couple weeks and can't get a repair person out to the boat to fix even though it's under warranty.

Trickle down optimism

There are lots of studies of gratitude. If you keep a gratitude journal, if you verbalize or write down what you are grateful for once a day, you will be happier. Parents that want to encourage empathy and kindness in their kids are advised to help them develop a gratitude practice by sharing something they are grateful for at dinner every night. By actively acknowledging your gratitude, you bring it to the forefront of your thoughts and you feel better about life.

The same can be said for optimism. By actively recognizing and sharing the good things in my life, I’m bringing positivity and happiness to the center of my thinking. Instead of dwelling on my challenges, I’m celebrating what I love about my life. I’m choosing optimism over pessimism.

I promise you, my life is not any more fantastic or miserable than anyone else’s. I struggle, I laugh, I celebrate, I cry, I get in funks, I get frustrated. But I’m working to live in a happy place. And an easy way to do that is to share my triumphs and my joys - to broadcast them to the world, which, at the same time, reminds me that through the hard stuff, there is a lot to celebrate.

And, of course, some days are just really really good. No need to filter my memory.

1 comment:

  1. I love that last comment. Those moments are so rare, that they really do deserve to be memorialized and appreciated. So much of life is a struggle and a fight to find the positive in things, but when it just spontaneously happens - that's priceless.