Finding the Bright Side

September 1, 2011

It has been my experience that often things do not go as planned and you can make any seemingly disastrous event something fun and memorable: it’s all about your choice of attitude.

Lee Currie

This is especially true when you add four kids in the mix! A few examples of how some of my simple plans have gone awry:

PLAN: A christening with the kids wearing their gorgeous silk outfits purchased for the occasion, surrounded by our friends, family and church community.

REALITY: A christening with one child refusing to change out of her cute pink sweat suit. Refusing in a very vocal and decidedly non-church-like manner.

RESULT: If you convert all of the photos to black and white everything looks fine. And, we now have a fun story that makes our family unique and adds to the sense of belonging to each other through our experiences.

PLAN: To put the house on the market in the morning.

REALITY: My son figured it was a good time to flush his favourite Power Ranger down the toilet to fight the bad guys in our plumbing system.

RESULT: A late night visit from the plumber, a huge bill, a roll-you-eyes story and the house still went on the market, only a day later than originally planned.

PLAN: To get the house tidied up and the dishes put in the dishwasher so we could spend the afternoon at the beach.

REALITY: Dish soap and Dishwasher soap are not the same and we returned to a kitchen full of suds.

RESULT: A huge soap fight and a very clean kitchen. And a layout, of course, which told the story.

PLAN: Spring Cleaning in my house includes a dumpster. In that dumpster goes all non-essentials and non-loved items not previously donated.

REALITY: Someone (yet to confess) decided my old Toshiba laptop – which was home to over 30,000 images, two novels, a dozen or so outlines and plenty of historical data – was ready for the dumpster.

RESULT: A lesson in “do” not store. (My one little word choice keeps showing up!) Like many of us, I plan to do things “later” and often later does not arrive. This was a reminder that there is no time like the present and if it’s important, do it.

Chalk all of these, and many other, stories up to what makes life full and interesting. This stuff happens to everyone, all great plans don’t happen quite as expected. You really do have to prepare to be flexible and have your sense of humour firmly in place. A camera doesn’t hurt, either!

I choose to be happy. I’ve spent much of my life surrounded by negative and unhappy people; my defense mechanism has become my choice to find the bright side. It is so easy to get sucked into the mire of negative, and I spent a lot of time there. Then I learned it is so much more rewarding, for me and those around me, to take a kinder more positive approach. It was a hard skill to master, but worth every effort. For the most part, I’m successful, though I do have my moments of challenge.

For those moments, I ask myself the same few questions:

  • Is it worth the fight, argument or grief? Sometimes you have to choose to be happy rather than choose to be right.
  • Is it a situation over which I have any control? If no, move on. If yes, be responsible, deal with it firmly (do not be wishy-washy) and move on.
  • Is there any humour to be found? If there is, and there always is, laugh. A big joy-filled belly laugh. Everything looks better with a bright smile and a laugh that reaches your eyes.

I am very clear that there are tragic circumstances that force us to look at things differently, for a time, but I’ve managed to survive my husband’s cancer, my son’s near drowning, and my own near-death hospitalization with a reinforced belief that there is always a bright side. Even in the most desperate of times there is light and hope and kindness.

Recently our family has been going through unexpected change, which has resulted in a number of events that were not considered even a few months ago! Not one to let things get me down for long, I’ve taken our current situation and made the most of it. Fortunately, my kids are equally resilient and are looking toward our future with a kind, positive and adventuresome attitude.

No doubt, going forward, my scrapbooks and photo albums will continue to be filled with celebrations of our imperfectly perfect lives – evidence of our existence. It is what we have chosen to do.

How about you? How can you take another look at a situation and find the positive? The rewarding? The challenge? How do you find your bright side?

With my four active children: Claire (15), Cole (14), Chloé (12) and Caden (11), I live in Oakville, Ontario. I am on a quest to take 46 years worth of experiences lived and skills mastered and apply them in some practical and creative manner. I am a dedicated uni-tasker, insatiably curious and generally opinionated; I have a big laugh, a love of neatly folded laundry, an aversion to talking on the phone and I am in constant search of good light. I am enjoying my journey and looking forward to what comes next! Come and follow along, visit me at: Embrace Life.

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25 Comments

  1. Terra

    Really good reminder to always try to find good in all situations. I choose to create positive pages because it really helps me to look on the bright side rather than dwell on everything that went wrong.

    Reply
    • Lee

      Like you, my pages are often positive. I do try to balance with a bit of imperfection 🙂 Keep making those pages, Terra!

      Reply
  2. grannymike

    I love your article and your examples of times when things did not go as planned. The “small” thing you mentioned (not the cancer and life-threatening situation) are not worth spoiling otherwise happy times. It’s okay to be upset, but life is too short to hold on to it. I am fortunate in that I think I have nearly always looked at the bright side as has my husband. Laughter has always been big in my family as well. It’s not something I’ve struggled much with (although I’ve had my moments), but I’ve seen others waste precious time reliving all the “bad” and casting blame. My husband is retired military, and so many times we met people who always wished they were back where they’d previously lived. Usually, we would meet someone who knew them then only to find they were just as unhappy there and spent that time looking back at yet another place. I like the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” That also applies to situations in which we find ourselves. I love that your children have that example to live by.

    Reply
    • Lee

      “Bloom where you are planted” is exactly it, grannymike. Well put! So sad for those who let life pass them by wishing for things that won’t happen.

      Reply
  3. DoggiNo

    I always find that it’s much easier said than done. In some situations when others “blow up” I find myself saying … “If that is the worst that will happen in the world, it’s ok !” But sometimes I can feel the itch too and really silly, silly things can annoy me to pieces.
    But it’s true, life is much brighter with laughter and joy. Thanks for reminding us to look for the bright side in everything. Big hugs !

    Reply
    • Lee

      I struggle with the occasional annoyances too. As long as I am aware and can pull back it’s victory 🙂

      Reply
  4. Din T

    I remind myself how God has been faithful in taking care of me in the past and He never changes, and I have so much to be thankful for!

    Reply
    • Lee

      Don’t we all have so much for which to be thankful. Great reminder, Din T.

      Reply
  5. Lynea Ford

    I find it helps if I decide ahead of an event or plan, to be flexible and roll with the punches. Sometimes, I expect things to go haywire somewhere, because I so believe in Murphy’s law.

    Reply
    • Lee

      Occasionally I find myself meditating (aka bracing myself) before an event. I concentrate on my breathing and often things turn out far better than anticipated.

      Reply
  6. Nathalie

    I have truly enjoyed reading this post! It is full of great life lessons and reminders. I would love to be surrounded by people like Lee!

    Reply
    • Lee

      Thanks, Nathalie!

      Reply
  7. Kathy

    Wow, Lee. You really know how to put things in perspective. What a fabulous attitude. You inspire me to quit whining about the little irritations and get over it! You have more than survived some daunting challenges – you seem to have thrived.
    thank you for this post. Awesome

    Reply
    • Lee

      I supposed the thriving is due to my four kids – what choice do I have 🙂 Thank goodness! Thanks for your kind words, Kathy.

      Reply
  8. Kendra

    Thank you for your thought-provoking entry today. You have really given me something to mull over and find ways to apply this to my life.

    Reply
    • Lee

      Excellent, Kendra! Glad you got something from my words 🙂

      Reply
  9. PatriciaD

    I like the attitude and espouse it myself but there are times when it can just get to ya!! Your Plan…Reality…Result steps though are a cool way to rethink things. I think I’ll give that a try next time things aren’t exactly up to par with my expectations.

    Reply
  10. Laurie M

    Oh my goodness! I LOVE this post! It reminds me of the time, when my kids were little and they got into the flour…HUGE mess…great picture! My mother thought it was horrible to take a picture and laugh about it. That was kind of how I was raised…love my mom but things were pretty strict. I often forget to laugh with my kids when things don’t go as planned, but truly is not the way I want to be. Thanks for opening up and sharing your thoughts that the process isn’t always easy…just gotta keep trying! And pictures help! 🙂

    Reply
  11. ava-j

    Hi Lee, this has been a wonderful post.Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. I certainly need to follow your example…I’m so prone to temper flares, sigh. Hugs!

    Reply
  12. Sue Williams

    What a great post, Lee. I love your positive attitude and your stories strike a familiar chord! A regular mantra for me – if there’s nothing you can do about it, get over it.

    Your first recollection reminded me of my kids’ christening. What could have been embarrassing, (ok, I’m pretty sure my mom was mortified), was just….hilarious – my 5 year old son, oh so serious, while his 3 year old sister attempted to shinny up the Christmas tree at the front of the church and our 18 month old girl repeatedly tried to climb up our minister’s legs under her cassock. I didn’t manage to get any photos at all that day so it’s unlikely I ever would have ‘scrapped’ the details…. Thanks for jogging my memory.

    Sue in NS

    Reply
  13. Jen Evangelista

    Love this post! In the early days/years of digital camera I deleted way too many photos. You know , the ones where everyone was crying and no one was looking at me. Now, I find these to be some of my favorites b/c they are so “real”. I usually don’t like them until months or years later, but I find I scrap with them more and more as I look back.

    Reply
  14. Cheri

    Wow, Lee, what a fantastic post! Love your words – you know my OLW is “happy” and that for me choosing happiness and joy is forefront in my life this year. It isn’t always easy, but when we keep reminding ourselves, it does become easiER!

    Reply
  15. Julie

    Wow. I really needed to read your post! I am too often thinking of the negative side of things and getting bent out of shape over piddling stuff (not always, but often enough to be embarrassed). I am going to pin up your article to remind me to “lighten up!” Thank you so much for your advice.

    Reply
  16. Lindsay

    I always try to figure out how I can make the situation work for me. Sometimes when things don’t go your way, it forces you to think outside the box.

    Reply
  17. Lauren

    I try to find some way to laugh at it. You can’t make work out the way you want them to.

    Also, I’ve made that dishwashing soap mistake before, too!

    Reply

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