Positivity is a mindset

10 September 2019 | Columns

Mariselle Stofberg

‘Later’ is a concept that inevitably means spending more time on something than compared to ‘now’. Everything can happen later. We often say: “I’ll do that later. Maybe tomorrow will be better and then I’ll attend to it. I’ll buy those shoes next month. I’ll visit my relatives next week. I’ll send those message in five minutes.”

We live in a world where we take time for granted. We believe that people live longer, and that in turn means you still have so much time left to do the things you love. You’ll start writing that novel later; you just need to work hard enough now to ensure you have a stable career. You will work towards that degree in a few years, because now you have to focus on your family.

Between ‘now’ and ‘later’, anxiety is born. We become indecisive, because we are scared of making mistakes, but mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Even though some might try to convince you otherwise, no one is perfect. We keep on saying ‘later’, because we are afraid of the now and the immediate. We believe that more time will ensure better results, and then we tend to lose our faith that what should happen, will happen.

We lose a grip on all the promises we make to ourselves, because we run out of time. We see ourselves as invincible, even though we are so fragile. We witness tragedies, where people die young, and still we devote more time each day to either complaining about everything that needs to be done or planning how we can do them later.

We see lives being lost, when they are yet to see or experience the world, but we complain about homework that needs to be done or waking up early for work. I am firstly taking a hard look at my own life. I came to realise how much time I’ve lost, while wishing it was Friday. I spend endless hours complaining, instead of being grateful.

Even though I realise I need to change the way I look at life, I will be the first to confess that it is damn hard to look for the silver lining of every cloud, when you expect thunder. It is hard to remain positive, when we see kids being abducted, the Amazon burning, people hurting innocent animals and each other for their own benefit.

Positivity is not a mood, but a mindset. It is a way of realising that even though you are not able to control what happens to you, or those around you, you are able to control how it makes you feel. You are able to take ownership of yourself and your emotions. You become the captain of your own boat, because you are able to generate your own happiness. What a wonderful feeling it is to actually take charge, instead of letting others determine what you feel. You take back the power you give others to hurt you, because you no longer depend on their opinions, ideas or moods.

When I wake up, I try to find something positive I can latch onto. I try to see what I can do today that can make me happy. I try to counteract everything I complain about, by finding something that I should be grateful about. It can be simple things like being grateful for the sunshine, rain, laughter, a good movie, a great meal, a strong cup of coffee, a message from a friend or even just your pet being silly.

It all starts by changing the way you think. Something only becomes a habit when you start doing it for 30 consecutive days. If you start everyday identifying the things you are grateful about, before you know it, this will become second nature to you. When you actively decide to make happiness your priority, you start to change your way of looking at the world. You see hope where others see despair and you see opportunities where others are too afraid to venture.

Stop focusing on what others may think. Stop wondering if what you do will be frowned upon. Please stop making choices you believe will impress your friends, family, colleagues or even society. Make decisions and choices for you. Do the things that make you happy. Walk barefoot into a store, laugh really loudly when something is very funny, randomly give people compliments, read whatever you want, eat the dish you’ve always wanted and celebrate who you are as a person.

When you give yourself just a fraction of the time you waste complaining about life, you actually have the time to put your own happiness first. You are allowed to think of you; that does not make you selfish. Making the right choices for you is possible, without stepping on others to do so. Your happiness is just as important as the happiness of others.

I want to live unapologetically, without regrets. I want to stay true to who I am. I am weird, silly, demanding at times, strong-willed and peculiar, and I tend to laugh at the most inopportune times, but that is what makes me human.

I would rather regret the things I did, than regret the opportunities I didn’t take.

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