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Optimism in the Worst of Times

Denis Waitley is quoted as saying “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” This is a phrase I like a lot and that I have also struggled with from time-to-time.  There have been periods in my life where expecting the best has been an almost insurmountable challenge.  Struggles with health within my family, employment uncertainty, the struggles that come from having young children, and more have definitely made it easier to have a defeatist attitude, rather than a positive attitude.

With all of this though, I still think that having a positive attitude is important. But how exactly do you go about planning for the worst – especially if you’re going through an extended period of “the worst” – with a positive attitude? There are a few strategies I’ve implemented that have helped during those periods of “the worst” that have really helped a lot:

  • Help others if you can, in any way you can. It might be listening to someone or it might be something big like helping a friend to fix her roof.
  • Change the definition of something for yourself. What does good mean in this 5-minute period, today, this week, this month? What does it mean to struggle?
  • Look for the good. I know it sounds really corny, but what is one good thing that has happened? Is it your 4-year-old telling you you’re the sweetest? Maybe your spouse offered to pick up lunch. Did someone sign up for a class you’re teaching? Even though it might not fix anything big, finding one piece of good can help you in the long slog toward more good.
  • Create something. It could be a blog post (hello!), a meal, a drawing, a clean kitchen (I love that feeling!). Take on something that will help you feel more in control over your life.

What are some strategies you’ve used when you’ve been working through a challenging period?

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Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash
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