“If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” There are times in all of our lives that we can feel this way. Headed down a bumpy stretch of road, it can seem as if the trip is never going to end.
A series of unfortunate or stressful events can create a shift in our perception, causing us to focus on the mishaps. This misperception makes us, adult or child, view our circumstances with negativity and pessimism.
When we get the flu, the car breaks down, the roof leaks, a car hits the dog—all in the same week—it takes some doing to find that ray of sunshine.
Life comes at us fast and furious and the inevitable stress that follows can keep us from seeing the bright side of life. Psychologists consider the following events to be the top stressors in our lives: death of a spouse or close family member, divorce, marital separation, incarceration, personal injury or illness, losing a job or starting a new job, moving to a new community, getting married, and retirement.
Have more than one of these circumstances in the past six months?
Consider yourself and your immediate family on stress overload. If life starts to get you or a loved one down, take time everyday to find three things that went well and consider the positive aspects of those events.
Five-year-old Betsy’s family relocated and her father, Jim, started a job with a new company that included additional travel. Betsy’s mother, Sarah, was sent to bed rest for a difficult pregnancy. Jim’s mother, Peg, came to help out. Stress overload.
Needless to say, little Betsy’s world was turned upside down. Betsy cried easily, didn’t want to go to school, complained of her stomach hurting, whined about being bored, and had nightmares.
Grandma Peg decided to try to help Betsy shift her perception and created a humorous game that Peg called “What’s Up, Doc?” using mannerisms from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.
“What’s up, Doc?” Peg wiggled her nose and chomped on an imaginary carrot.
“Nuthin’ much,” Betsy said.
“What about Maggie coming over today? That was pretty up.”
“Yeah, we had fun with the hula hoops. I counted to a hundred before the hula hoop fell down.”
“What about reading to your mom today and painting her toenails?’
“That was fun, too. I hope Mommy likes her purple sparkly toes.”
“What about talking to your dad on the phone?”
“Daddy is so funny. He always makes me laugh.”
“So, I see three ups today, Betsy. Hula hoops, toenails and daddy calls.”
In a matter of a few days, Betsy began answering, “What’s up, Doc?” on her own, and in a couple of weeks Betsy’s complaints disappeared.
Grandma Peg says that Betsy, now in college, calls her each week and starts the conversation with–you guessed it–“What’s up, Doc?”
So, when life throws you a curve ball, look for three things everyday that went well and why.
“Th-th-that’s all folks!”