Is it Possible to Choose our Mindset?

I want to tell you about someone I know. This man is always calmly positive and never says an unkind word about anyone. When he talks about things going on in his life he doesn’t share it in a complaining way. He seems to ride the waves of life and accepts the ups and downs.

I’ve been paying attention as I’ve wondered if this guy is for real! Is he stuffing his emotions, is he in denial? I’m not a therapist nor his best friend, but I can say with a high level of certainty that he is the real McCoy, as they say. After knowing him for a couple years and having some good conversations, I asked him directly if he really feels the way he sounds…positive, accepting, etc.? He replied, “Yes, Risa. And I tell you what. It is a choice to focus on the good. After all, what benefit is it to myself or anyone if I ponder and judge the seemingly ‘negative’ aspects of people and circumstances?”. The afternoon of that conversation I contemplated what he said. I had more thoughts and questions.

Next time I saw him, I asked him what he meant by “it’s a choice” and…how do we make that choice? He pointed out the obvious…that we can easily go down the rabbit hole of negative thinking, resentment, fear, pain (emotionally, mentally, physically). He said that with even just a glimmer of awareness that we are doing that we can instantly choose to think a new thought, a thought that counters the negative thought. He said it takes practice and diligence for most people and that he trained himself as a young adult once he realized that negativity wasn’t helping anything or anyone.

He said it’s not denial. At first, he would notice a feeling or thought that didn’t feel good. He would acknowledge that it was there and then choose a better thought or feeling. Over time, extreme negative responses or inner turmoil just didn’t even arise.

Since meeting him a couple years ago I started practicing saying “stop” to negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts. Over time it’s become easier and I’ve noticed I’m much calmer, stopped biting my nails, and I don’t wake up with morning angst. I’m more inclined towards spending my time in uplifting endeavors and not engaging in negative things such as the news.

I saw him again a few days ago. I asked him what’s new and he told me that he had a medical diagnosis that most people would consider serious. I asked him how he’s handling it and he said, “Ya know, Risa, I’m ok with it. This is part of life. What other way is there to be?”

He flashed his beautiful smile, answered an incoming call, and we gave each other a “see ya later” wave. Some people are just so good to know! It’s said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I was ready.

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