Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Doses of Positivity

"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is in itself a marvelous victory." ~ Howard Zinn
One recently bitterly cold early morning as I was stumbling into my chosen coffee shop of the day I happened to see a woman I had noticed there on previous mornings. On this day she was addressing in full vigor, a group of women sitting at a large table.

This woman, an educator, was outlining her classroom philosophy. Ebullient doesn't even come close to describing her.

I had to break in: "Are you enrolling? I'd like to be in your class!"

She laughed. The women too. I told her from what I had heard she gives her students the opportunity to learn in a healthy and inclusive atmosphere. She responded by mentioning each day before class she reminds herself that she knows nothing, so each day might progress and emerge as it should.

Sound familiar?

Stunned, I left her with a quote I had picked up years before.

"People who think they know everything are missing the Great Adventure," I said.

We smiled and parted company yet her energy and positivity remain with me.

Sometimes we need doses of positivity as parents of addicts. No matter where we are on our lifelong journey, wherever our children are along their recovery pathways, we need these regular inoculations against The Negative.

Our lives depend on it. Positivity is one of many preventative and proactive measures we can employ to avoid tumbles back to the vortex The Addiction is constantly inviting us to rejoin. Think of Positivity as a vaccine we would no more avoid than the Inactivated Poliovirus schedule administered to our children in the first year and a half of their lives. Positivity is a well-established pathway to fulfillment and self actualization.

Years ago I had asked my doctor if he thought I should get a flu shot.

"You want to get the flu?" he asked.

"No," I responded.

"Then get the flu shot," he counseled, with a smile.

It's that simple, right?

Unfortunately for parents of addicts it's not always so. We are challenged, daily, by the hooks The Addiction employs to drag us back into our children's spiral. We all have the little bastard projectionist in our heads, playing those awful dystopian newsreels portending certain futures that may or may not transpire.

We can learn to SEEK out Positivity so we may SEE The Good The Universe has in play for us. We do not simply avoid the negative. Actively looking for the positive in life, seeking FUN (there's that "F" word again), allows less time for negative thoughts, internalized film festivals and self-defeating actions to creep into our lives.

We don't lead lives as the village idiot, ignoring all of life's travails at the expense of our own well being. This is more a quest for the best in human nature, in society, in friends and family and ourselves as we stay true to our recovery journey pathways. There is a benefit, a logic, in surrounding ourselves with joyfulness, what is life affirming and not soul damaging.

I have become convinced that TV newsrooms have relegated the duties of the assignment desk to the police scanner. It's is easier to cover fires, murders and automobile accidents than to dig deep into the soul of a community to find The Good percolating in spite of The Bad we are exposed to hourly. Television dramas and reality shows have become celebrations of the worst of human nature.

We can pick our media wisely. We can choose our mindset carefully as well. We can even choose our conversations carefully including our self talk. Most of us have more than once, I'm sure, meandered down pathways of negativity. It may be part of our DNA or perhaps a defaulting human genome that tends to move us to a complaining voice. When this occurs we can catch ourselves and imagine ourselves turning around to retrace our steps back to our chosen pathway.

When we find ourselves diverted to The Negative we can feel it. It is a different sensation for everyone whether it's the blood rushing to our heads or the knot forming in our neck muscles (that's mine). Whatever predictor of the foreboding we own it is important to recognize it and know when we have entered a dark pathway. If we allow ourselves to continue down the path paved by negativity we risk becoming lost, again, in the blackness.

Seeking out and finding The Positive is the thing wherein we can keep our journeys true and safe.

Surrounding ourselves with positive people is one sure way to stay focused on our pathways. A quick shot of optimism from one of those infectiously happy souls is an inoculation against Gloom.
And GLOOM, in just a single syllable is such a descriptively negative word. Lugubrious is another. We may not know its meaning, we just know by its sound we don't want to go there. Lu-gu-bri-ous is what we were before we began our journey. 
We can't go back there.

We can catch ourselves when we find we have entered into a negative conversation or when our our thoughts revert to our more negative tendencies.

We can leave those conversations, external and internal. We can stop ourselves when we begin to ramble down the easy pathway to The Gloom. When we do, when we stop, we know we've grown.

Remember also The Addiction is all about maintaining our children in its cocoon of negativity. Their conversation will trend to what sucks, what is wrong with EVERYTHING. Do not engage, do not return the volleys. But when our children do emerge, when they speak of anything that smacks of what is right, good or optimistic with their world, jump on the opportunity.

It is at this moment we must allow our children to catch a glimpse of what we have found. We must allow them to have a Goodness sighting, a view of a vista awaiting them in the light outside the darkness. It may be hard for them to see. The light can be blinding for those who have been in the dark so long.

Eventually they may become accustomed to our Positivity. Eventually they may long for it.

For now the doses of Positivity can be our little secret, our gift to ourselves.

Just take at least two daily, PRN.

... keep coming back

"We can complain because rosebushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"When things go wrong, don't go with them." ~ Elvis Presley