Hi friends! What did you do for the Super Bowl yesterday? Did you go to a party and eat lots of delicious junk food? Watch it at home with your family? Skip it entirely and watch the Puppy Bowl instead? My life is pretty hectic right now, so I watched the Super Bowl at home while I unpacked and prepped my meals for the week. Tech rehearsal for Treasure Island every night this week means prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day. Kind of exhausting.
Anyway, as I watched the Super Bowl this year, I couldn’t help but think about last year’s Super Bowl. The day of the 2015 Super Bowl was the day before I was admitted to a mental hospital, and the day my mental health hit rock bottom. I’m sure there will come a time where the only association I have with the Super Bowl is happiness and lots of delicious food, but this year, all I could think about was the negative stuff. Most of the time I can see how amazing it is that I’ve come so far, but yesterday the bad memories started to overwhelm me.
I don’t know if it’s my mental illness or just my nature, but my default setting is to fixate on the negative side of things. I’ve caught myself falling into that negative spiral a lot lately, so I decided to start making a conscious effort to focus on the positive side of things instead. And you know what? It’s made a difference. It’s getting easier to focus on the positive, and I’ve even noticed a change in my body when I shift my focus to the positive, like a giant weight is being lifted off my chest.
Whether you struggle with mental illness or not, I’m confident you’ve gotten trapped in a negative cycle a time or two before. Have you ever overslept, and then everything else seemed to go wrong for the entire day? Some of that is just the universe conspiring against you (sorry), but some of it is a snowball effect. If you hadn’t been wrapped up in how frustrated and flustered you were about being late, you probably wouldn’t have spilled coffee down your front or locked your keys in your car. What if you had chosen instead to take thirty seconds, breathe deeply a few times, and think about how much your body will benefit from the extra hour of sleep and how lucky you are to live a life where you won’t get fired for being late once? You might have still had a bad day, but it might stop that snowball effect of everything being awful all day.
Let me say that I’m not trying to suggest this as a “cure” to mental illness. I understand that sometimes you’re really depressed or anxious and you just can’t focus on the positive, and that’s okay. I’m saying that if you train your brain to start focusing on the positive when you do have that choice, it might be just a teeny, tiny bit easier to do that when you’re not at your best. And who knows? Maybe you’ll see other benefits too. You won’t know until you try.
For the next thirty days, I want you to find one thing a day to which your immediate reaction was negative, and find a way to spin it. I’m going to do my challenge primarily on Instagram, but you don’t have to. Feel free to use any social media platform you choose, or none at all. If you’re more comfortable, leave comments on the blog, or just write it down in a journal every day and post/tweet/comment at the end to let me know how it went.
Here’s the official Finding the Way to Well Positive 30 Challenge in a neat, tidy numbered list:
- Pick one thing per day for thirty days that you immediately reacted negatively to (a parking ticket, a flat tire, a new haircut, etc.).
- Take a picture of it (if you’re so inclined).
- Tweet/Instagram/Facebook it and tell us a) the situation b) your immediate reaction c) your positive spin.
- Tag @FTWTWBlog on Twitter and Instagram and Finding the Way to Well on Facebook and use #ftwtwpositive30
P.s. If your immediate response to this is a massive eye roll and the thought of “Oh my god, not another stupid challenge,” examine that response and how negative it is. I’m just saying. No one ever got hurt from having a little extra positivity in their lives.