I cried yesterday because one-year ago I received a life-changing call from my mom. My mom called to tell me that my step-dad, Mahlon, had a stroke earlier that morning and had been airlifted from our family home in Red Bluff, CA to a nearby hospital. When I received my mom’s call, I was terrified because I had a feeling we were going to lose Mahlon. He’d recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and dementia and I sensed that a stroke would be too much for his body to handle. Unfortunately, my initial instinct was right. Mahlon died five months later on June 10, 2012.
During 2012, I learned so many powerful lessons about caregiving, self-care, and the power of strong relationships. I managed to get through the year by focusing on positive emotions; that’s not to say I didn’t experience depression or negative thoughts, because I did and still do. After all, I’m human. I’m happy, most of the time, but I still struggle. I’ve learned to deal with my negative thoughts by focusing on positive emotions like gratitude.
Positive emotions, optimistic thinking, and more are discussed in “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. In one section of the book, Pink advocates focusing on words that convey positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, interest, hope, serenity, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. He urges readers to display these words on an office wall, phone, or computer. More importantly, Pink encourages readers to use these words as a daily prompt; a prompt that will motivate you to outwardly express positive emotions. By doing so, Pink notes, you will be rewarded with a “psychic boost.”
For example, today you could focus on cultivating gratitude in your everyday life. You could write a gratitude letter to a loved one, create a gratitude journal or take a friend out for coffee and tell that person why you are grateful to have them in your life. I love these types of exercises because they always leave me feeling happy, hopeful, and positive.