If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know I’m a believer in positive thinking a la The Secret. I’m not a “wish for a diamond-studded Porsche and The Universe will make it come to you” kind of guy, but I do believe that your mental state and focus on goals do cause things to happen (indirectly, sometimes). It may be that having a positive mental state and well-thought out goals simply means you’re more aware of opportunities as they flash by, or it may be that the Force is with us, always. I dunno – I’m not successful enough to give lectures on the amazing success you can achieve simply through a positive mindset or a white-hot intensity in your pursuit of your goals. Nor am I positive enough or intense enough.
Positive thinking is easier when things are going well, but also when you allow yourself to be distracted by external events from focusing on the negative. I have been busy enough with traveling (a quick family business trip), packing for our imminent move to Florida and some weekend family visits for Pumpkin’s first birthday that I haven’t had much time to read and ruminate on:
- swine flu
- the Chrysler bankruptcy
- the awful state of the US economy, which simply seems to get worse and worse
- torture memos and so on
- the Taliban offensive in Pakistan
I’m aware of all of these things, but I haven’t been concentrating on them. Instead, I’ve been focused on getting boxes and organizing books, CDs; canceling and transferring services; and dealing with two stir-crazy kids kept inside for weeks by cold weather and rain (with one brief four-day respite). I’ve found that the very basic focus-on-one-or-two-(or-three)-things-per-day system I mentioned works well, after a bumpy start.
The COBRA reduction came through. Because it was retroactive, I don’t owe anything for health insurance for the rest of the summer, and after that it’s only $400 a month. That makes a huge difference in an unemployed person’s life. My search for work will shift – I can afford to look for the contracting work I prefer without a desperate need for benefits, for a while. I still think the original thoughts I had on the reduction hold true, and several of the comments are also (very) worthwhile reading. I know it’s a lot of money, but think what an effect that might have on the economy if reasonable “bridge” insurance was available to everyone who lost a job.
Other little things have gone right here and there – I fixed what seemed to be a major car problem myself, a refund for several hundred dollars we had been chasing for a while finally came through, and (at least for a few days) we had a taste of summer and what awaits us in Florida. The name of this blog is brip blap for a reason. I bounce back and forth a lot. But when things go right, focusing on the future becomes easier. The trick is to make it a habit, and again and again – for myself – I notice three things make a big difference:
- Working towards a definite goal (in this case, moving) and ignoring distractions,
- Being outdoors (in this case, we had a few hot days and we finally spent some sun-drenched time outside), and
- Staying connected with people (relevant now because of first visiting and then being visited by family and friends).
Moving to Florida will fix #2. #1 – for the time being – is a result of being focused on the gargantuan task of moving itself; once we relocate and get settled, it will be easy to slip back into frenetic activity without a specific goal. #3 will of course suffer for the most part. We’ll move much further away from our families and friends, but I know – having lived in Russia for years while everyone I knew remained in the States – family connections can be maintained and even strengthened sometimes. Relationships with friends can become weaker, but new places often mean new friends, too.
What I take away from positive moments is that our moods are more sensitive to minor triggers than we’d like to admit. I’m not a naturally outdoorsy person but I do much, much better when I get some sun. I’m not a focused person – my attention tends to wander from subject to subject – but when I have big projects I narrow my scope. And it’s easy to get out of the habit of making and keeping friends when you’ve been stuck in a rut or when you’re constantly occupied by small children – a change of pace might be for the best sometimes.
So when things go right, they go right. Learning how to keep throwing another few sticks of kindling on the fire once it’s started burning is the trick to achieving success – and more importantly, happiness.