(OK, forgive any typos or mis-spellings. Spellcheck obviously has more important things to do right now than keep me from making a fool of myself)
Did you ever have someone in your life that wouldn’t recorgnize you walking down the street, but who has changed your life immensely? I have. This isn’t an interview question nor part of an application for a dating website. This is serious…not that interviewing isn’t, but this is seriouser.
I guess I am talking about someone who has kind of uncovered something so simple that you needed to be delivered to you at a very specific time; and it smacks you in the face with its awesomeness and changes you forever. It had been a while since I thought about this happening to me. But it did happen. And it was a big deal. For me, that person was Keith Harrell.
Let me step back a little bit.
If you have been here for a while, you probably know that everything isn’t always rainbows and unicorns in Heatherville. I can go to a pretty dark place in my mind; frequently somewhere between disappointment, defeat and discouragement. I have tried not to write about it too much, but I know I haven’t always been good at hiding stuff. Or maybe this has showed up as me looking for answers by reading about the human mind (and whose idea of a sick joke it is) and life philosophy (some of you might call this religion, but it’s different for me). Anyway, yeah, it gets dark here sometimes (kind of echoey too, but…). We all have our problems, blah, blah, blah. The difference between me and most people is that I am an oversharer. We all have our stuff.
But I think it’s clear that I have been doing some work to figure out what is going to make me happy. I really only get glimpses of the answer to the question here and there. There is no big answer. And the sooner we give up the idea that someone will deliver some big answer to us, the sooner we can move on and find it. You’re lucky if someone gives you hints…you’re getting warmer…no, you’re cold….freezing cold…OK, now you are hot!
So during all of this “work” I have been doing, I have come to understand the power of perspective and attitude. Holy crap, have I come to understand that! And what those 2 things have in common is that they are totally under your control. Your thinking can be broad or narrow or really just focused on the wrong thing. And it can be positive or negative AT YOUR OWN choosing. Which is why waiting for someone to deliver that one thing that is going to make you happy is a little silly. You are the one that needs to do the hard work. Smell what I’m cookin’?
A positive attitude is a muscle that requires flexing and training. I believe that we all have a starting point based on a number of factors and from there, we work at being more positive or we don’t. I’m not an expert, just a practitioner. And I learned that I needed to work on being more positive. A lot. And I have. It sounds easy to do, but it’s hard to remember to do it. I’ll give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was driving in pretty dense traffic and this woman pulled around me and nosed her way in front of me. As much as I would like to say this is the typical northwesterner thing where people just don’t know how to merge, it was more than that. She had to go out of her way to do this. I felt my body tense up and my mind start to go to that angry place. And then I stopped myself and thought “I’m not late for work. Maybe she is late for an important meeting and she is panicking. Maybe she really does need to get there more than I do.” I’m telling you folks, this sh*t works. Poof, it was gone (well, except for that little tiny self-satisfied feeling I had for letting this go). That little traffic thing could have cheesed me off all day. I decided not to let it. I chose to think more broadly and be positive. And please refer back to the rainbows and unicorn thing. This takes work.
You might remember me writing last year about training for a marathon. I felt so good about my progress and it actually seemed like something I could do. And then I fell off a ladder (literally). I should have gone to the doctor, but the pain went away after a couple weeks (and yes, I realize how ridiculous this sentence is so far). but still it was enough to knock me off track. I lost my mojo. And since then, when I have thought about the running, I have felt disappointed in myself for letting this happen, then I start making excuses and that makes me feel worse. It’s very negative. I mean, all of it is me saying bad things about myself to me (did I mention the echo chamber?). And this has gone on since probably mid-January.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and decided that nothing was going to change unless I did something different. I decided to write down as many reasons as I could think of to start running again. I put each one on a post it note and put it up on one of my kitchen cabinets. And I ended up with this:
Not too shabby from a former/sometimes negative thinker! That was going to do it for me. I just needed a perspective tweak.
Less than an hour later, I was reading the sunday paper and I saw this. And my heart broke. And I remembered how I got to the point where I could put silly little post-it notes up in my kitchen to convince myselt to run again. It’s because of Mr. Super Fantastic. I was going to close out this blog post with this:
“After 24 years in the speaking business, millions of those touched by Keith Harrell are mourning the loss of the motivational speaker, writer, and mentor. The vibrant and contagiously positive professional devoted the last quarter-century of his life to inspiring and encouraging people to evaluate their attitude as they developed strategies and methods to lead a happy and healthy life.”
But I like this better:
“The attitude you choose today determines the success you have tomorrow. Remember, attitude is everything!” –Keith Harrel
Word. And thank you, Keith!