It’s funny how life changes. One day, we’re climbing uphill, working, maybe raising children, helping parents, doing what we think we should. Then we look up and realize we’ve moved to the downhill side of life. How do we make our downhill moments matter?
Walking quickly with our dog Louie on a cold and blustery day, I just felt bummed. I was mad it was so cold so early. I was upset I hadn’t done more this past summer, this fall (so far), and dare I say, in my life.
It’s been a different year, especially the last few months. Maybe it’s understanding my age, family history, and other factors out of my control are simply that–out of my control. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my life. I am truly blessed. But that cold day reminded me to maximize the time God provides.
I want my downhill days to matter. I don’t want to be crabby about the weather or other things out of my control. Instead, while walking on sunnier day, I came up with three P’s to motivate my moments moving forward.
Our daily decisions are like steps on a path. For our memory or overall health this manifests in good or not so good choices impacting our wellness. But our choices also affect others around us. Making purposeful choices is the key.
It’s said we make thousands of decisions daily. Being purposeful with time, resources, and energy often takes thoughtful planning and listening to God and others I value. If not, it’s easy to drift, then see days or years behind us. But when we choose to be purposeful, things shift.
We stop drifting and set our sail. We harness the wind with purposeful choices that direct our life.
Yes, we cannot control everything (or everyone). But when purposeful, we move in a direction we choose. That subtle shift can create a huge difference in ours and others’ lives. Let’s choose purposefully.
Years ago, when I worked with a certain nurse, I always felt crabby even if it had been a good day. After yet another grumpy day, I realized it was her negative attitude influencing me. My natural tendency is also half glass empty, but I had been striving to be more positive. Once I realized how Negative Nelly’s (not her real name 😉) complaining, whining, and general negative attitude impacted me and others, I shifted my attitude and actions.
For every negative comment of hers, I purposely made a positive one or spun the problem differently to see it from another perspective. If she was being particularly negative, I’d physically remove myself from her presence as best I could. These simple actions were transformational! No more bad days with Negative Nelly! I shifted my perspective and also those around me. My purposeful adjustment in attitude and actions demonstrated the power of being positive.
We cannot do this with every negative situation and person in our lives. However, research shows choosing to be positive provides numerous wellness benefits for body and mind. It’s not always easy to do, but it is always a choice. Sometimes this takes an audible reminder. While walking, I reminded myself, out loud, of the positives that blustery day. It didn’t change the weather, but it did change my outlook.
When the Negative Nellys, a cold snap, bad news, or other uncontrollable circumstance occurs, take a moment. Breathe, assess if a negative attitude or feelings are impacting you, and stop it in its tracks. A positive attitude creates positive actions just as a negative one fuels negative actions. There’s always a positive action to be taken, even in a negative situation. Shifting to a positive attitude helps us find it.
Recently I woke up with regret. I wasn’t as present with a loved one and missed an opportunity to help and be together. It’s a moment I’ll never get back. Our moments come and go and we only experience them once. It’s kind of depressing thinking of all the moments we’ve missed or regret. But just like our attitude, instead of lamenting the past, let’s learn, then purposefully and wisely move forward. Let’s be present in each moment.
It’s a recurring theme of mine, being present. I’ve had less moments with many people in my life I care about, so I want to make the most of the ones left. But I still sometimes miss the mark and regret it. Each time, I relearn the lesson and try to be more present. When present, we fully live each moment we’re given. Our moments may not all be perfect. But being present means I notice the beautiful changing leaves (even on a blustery day) or the people around me and how I can serve them. Most importantly, being present with God enables me to hear His voice above all others to guide my steps.
Whether you are climbing up or hiking the downhill side of life, I pray these life lessons benefit you too. Let’s make our moments matter by being purposeful, positive, and present with every step.