Last week I wrote about the stories we tell and retell and their effect on our experience of life
. I received some great feedback from many of you and, as always, I'm flattered and grateful. However, I also received some thoughtful comments from a dear friend of mine who cautioned that many of us have learned all too well to put on the "happy face" we think others expect from us if we are truly positive people regardless of whether it is authentic or not. She wrote:
"I think one first has to be aware of the space they are in and why they are there, acknowledge it, own it and probably be with it awhile before effectively, intentionally determining whether they want to stay there (hopefully not usually), if not, where they'd rather be, and what they'll do to get there. Sometimes the grief and pain is simply too great to rush the processing of it (as in your first example). One has to let that be for awhile or run the risk of simply applying a coat of gloss, hoisting on the mask, painting on the smile and spewing out the right, happy words."
I think there is validity to this concern and I'm so grateful that she brought it to our attention as I suspect many of you may have had a similar concern. In light of it, I would like to make a distinction:
Living consciously and being positive and vibrantly alive does not mean putting on a fake smile or covering up your painful experiences with any sort of a mask. Rather it's about being optimistic about your future regardless of your current circumstances, living with hope, and having faith in the process and gifts of growth and challenge. If this is your consistent filter for experiences in life, then disappointments, hurts, confusions, challenges take on a new shape very quickly. The success of our lives will be formed not by how we respond in the easy or beautiful times in our lives but how we think and respond to the challenges of our most difficult moments.
In an effort to put some real life tools you can use in your hands, over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of my daily and weekly tips for practicing and building the "muscle" of positiveness and optimism so that it is strong and ready for action when life throws you those fast, curve balls.
Until then, keep sending your comments and thoughts about our Monday Morning Stretch ideas. We love reading them and being "stretched" ourselves!