My air conditioning has been working marginally, if at all, for two months. During a summer with a record number of days over 90 degrees, many over 100. And now, our water heater is leaking. Yesterday, in the midst of house failures, the heat and a long afternoon, I told my husband I thought we should come up with a name for the summer, like newscasters do around hurricanes, or natural weather events. Like…Summer of living on the sun…or the even more charming…summer in a fiery cauldron.
What he said to me made me think. He told me he wouldn’t attach a negative word to this summer. Wait what??? He doesn’t want to think of it that way. You see, this is the first summer we’ve spent together since we remarried. The heat, the adversity, certainly tested us. It’s very easy to turn frustration that arises in the heat towards each other. But that didn’t happen, at all. And believe me, there have been some tense moments, especially when you wake up tired from sleeping in a hot room, think surface of the sun, all night. Instead of turning us on each other like rabid dogs, it brought us closer together. So, no, he wouldn’t attach a negative name to this summer.
I was thinking about this the other day as I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Our organization was a host site so I was able to “attend” with 300 of my work friends. The Summit featured fantastic speakers, many of whom stood out to me for a variety of reasons. During one session, Andy Stanley shared an interesting perspective. He said that we should be students of success, do autopsies on success. We often spend our time focusing on what when wrong. So what does that do? Keeps us circling the drain. Keeps us in the negative space. Don’t get me wrong, there is some value to figuring out what when wrong to prevent it in the future, but staying there is not productive.
Focusing on success, studying what went right…now we’re getting somewhere. Studying success helps us…wait for it…be more successful. In life, at work, in relationships. Spending time truly understanding the aspects that were successful, in addition to helping you replicate it in the future, puts you in a positive space. Helps you look back on situations and see the good, not pick apart the one thing that didn’t go well.
Do you naturally look for the positive? I want to say yes. But at the same time, I know that I can have a critical eye. I look for the flaw. My heart is to help make it better, but that overlooks the 99% that’s awesome. I’m quite sure that is not the most helpful, or encouraging. Even though I see the flaws, I also see the positive. I want to see the positive. It doesn’t always hold my attention as long though. That’s something I’m working on.
So back to my summer of…laughter…joy…memories. Yes, I’m choosing the positive. You see, I choose if I want to sit in negative or positive energy. Whether I want to let life and my perspective on it be shaped by what’s going on around me, or take an active, thriving role in it.
Is this an area where you struggle? You too have choices. Start looking for the joy in your life. Don’t worry as much about the flaws. Spend your time looking at how to replicate your success. You’ll feel the shift inside you, and others will notice it too. It may take some time, but it’s worth it. Choose the one thing, the one area where you want to be positive and start…right…now. I’m right there with you, we can do it, we’re brave.