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Six Easy Steps on Becoming an Optimist While Climbing the Staircase

The other day in a department store I noticed a message on a sign that read something like, “Faith is taking the first step without seeing the whole staircase.” As I thought about the meaning I smiled and thought, whoever wrote that could have had a dream, had a lot of faith to see it come to fruition then realized the monumental work that would follow to be able to keep the dream alive. I was able to relate to the quote, I had a dream many years ago to have an office that would be holistic in nature. It would combine bariatric patients and geriatric clients. It would have everything anyone needed for not only total health care but most importantly a place to feel they could receive help given by caring people. It would be called, “The Quality of Life Center”. This wonderful office opened in October 2007. It came to fruition because of my faith in God and friends and family support. Now I am climbing the staircase.

Actually I am an idealist, perhaps having the innate ability to see things through rose colored glasses ninety percent of the time. How I became that way is something I can’t really figure out. When my father died I was 12 years old. My mother was left with 3 children, I was the middle child. Both of my brothers were developmentally disabled. Looking back I realize how strong my mother had to have been to carry on, she was 38 years old with the main goal of taking care of us kids, she would never remarry.

A very distinct memory of that time in my life was when my mother realized we needed new storm windows on the house. When Sears wanted $2 a piece to install them mom looked at me and said, “I think we can do that don’t you?” I was clueless but went along with the plan. Amazingly the windows never fell out. I believe it was then and with my mother’s encouragement the rest of my growing years that I realized I could do anything if I tried. Even if what I tried failed I could still feel good about trying.

As these many years have passed I believe I was blessed with the ability to weather many storms beginning with the death of my father and most recently the passing of my two brothers. Somehow for all of what our family went through I managed to see the best in life. Perhaps it was greatly attributed to the many years of nursing when I witnessed people suffering and dying. I was privileged to also witness many miracles. I would look back at my father’s early death and say, “Life is really too short. We need to appreciate everyday we wake up healthy.”

The other day my husband said to me, ‘No matter what happens to you that is bad it seems like you can always find something to smile about. You are always an optimist.” For some reason I didn’t seem to think that was a gift but perhaps it really is. I gave him the ‘life is too short’ line and then began to think that anyone could be an optimist if they only wanted to but it would take some work. It would be necessary to learn the lessons of ‘climbing the staircase’, have a dream, no matter how big or small, have faith and work for it to come true and then realize that a tough road might be ahead.

I believe there are steps one could take toward becoming an optimist to be able to look at life through rose colored glasses no matter what tribulations they had encountered throughout the years. This is not to say these steps should take the place of professional assistance but perhaps they could enhance the therapeutic process.

Throughout my life and now as I climb this new ‘staircase’ of making this new business work, the principles of what help me be optimistic are:

  1. Wake up every morning and before your feet hit the floor think of some thing that makes you happy. My daughter-in-law told me recently that when my grandson wakes up cranky, she walks into his room singing a silly song, clapping her hands and smiling. Alexander begins to laugh and as though what she did was contagious he starts his day in a happy mood just like his mother. There is always, always some thing to be happy about. Smiles are contagious, people most always will smile back at you. Frowns and angry faces are contagious as well - I believe there should be a vaccine for them.

  1. Realize that we have choices; we can either continue to be sad and worry about our problems or move forward with a happy spirit and work on being resilient. Resiliency is what can help us solve our problems.

  1. Understand that people and things will disappointment you. War is disappointing but unfortunately it happens and there is nothing we can do about it. Friends and family can be disappointing, perhaps not meaning to but they may see things differently then you. You may feel they have abandoned you in your times of need. Perhaps during these times is when you will recognize your greatest strength of character.

  1. Find stuff, positive stuff to do. My grandmother always used to say, “Idle hands are a devil’s workshop”. Awaken the creative side of you. Maybe it’s painting, learning to play an instrument, do woodworking or take up pottery. There are countless things to do no matter if you feel you are creative or not, try anything because you just might surprise yourself. Another very positive thing to do is exercise, any kind, as much as you want, just do it.

  1. Volunteer to help others throughout the week. Maybe it is just a matter of opening the door for the elderly, reading to a child, collecting food for your local food bank, gathering small items to send to our troops overseas, working at an animal shelter, the list could go on and on. A good thing to remember, “Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Do something to feel that you have shared yourself with others; the emotional rewards will be endless. You may find your purpose in life. Everyone needs a purpose.

  1. Understand that no matter how hard you think your life might be you don’t have to look very far to find someone who, through no fault of their own, suffers more. I met a young man the other day that had been confined to a wheelchair since 1975 following an automobile accident. He had minimal use of his hands and was not able to use his legs. His spirit was amazing. We discussed his job and his outlook on life and his plans for the future and what he did to help others. The image he had of himself and his life was inspirational.

We all have a staircase to climb in this life and at times it will not be an easy climb. I can see that I have a long way to go in this new business, I will have good and bad times, but I look forward to the task. I do know I will continue to make a practice of being thankful for what I have to be happy for, my faith, my family and my friends.

Always make the best of everyday---life is too short.

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