Having a positive attitude all the time is a lot of freaking work!

Yesterday was my birthday! It’s funny how birthdays go. Some are big and some are small. Some are momentous and some are traumatic. It turns out that turning 48 was really okay! In fact, it was just right. No I’m certainly not young anymore, but I’m not that old either and I wouldn’t trade the richness of this life now for anything, not even eternal youth! I felt about my birthday, both the day itself and the celebrating of it, exactly the way I feel about my life right now: satisfied, content, joyful, and completely at peace.

The best thing about my birthday, the very best of gifts yesterday, were the words those I care about shared with me! Whether it was cards, or Facebook posts, or time spent on the phone talking, or the little book from someone special filled with positive quotes that he said reminded him of me, the words were the best part! The words weren’t the best part because they were filled with hollow compliments but because they were heartfelt messages from reflective and thoughtful friends who again made me realize what amazing people I have in my life. And isn’t it nice to hear what other people think of you once in a while, not because I want or need praise, but because I am on this constant quest to be a better person, and it’s nice to know if I’ve made any progress lately.

The best words I heard were “truth-teller” and “a genuine woman who has learned herself and owns it!” I can’t think of any higher compliments I would rather get. If nothing else, no matter how many things I screw up in this life, I will always be honest, with you and with me! We can’t grow if we can’t admit the areas we need to grow in! That won’t always make me popular either, because not everyone appreciates the truth, but it’s completely worth it!

Another thing someone said recently to a mutual friend that really struck me was “I wish I could have a positive attitude all the time like Karen Foley!” This made me laugh! Not because it’s not true, I do my best to always have a positive attitude, but because this friend seems to think it comes easy, or naturally.

So guess what, and I’m going to be completely honest with you. Having a positive attitude all the time is freaking hard work! Seriously, really, really had work! I do not wake up every morning and jump out of bed with a bright and sunny attitude! In fact, some days it’s quite the opposite but sometime between the long hot shower and the black coffee, I DECIDE to have a positive attitude about the day behind me and about the day in front of me.

Studies say that middle-aged women are at a higher than average risk for depression. No shit! I can certainly verify that fact! It can be a rough time, especially if life didn’t turn out exactly as you’d planned but then again, whose life has? It is certainly a time when you realize that some of the dreams you had when you were younger are no longer a possibility. It’s also a time that you look in the mirror at your changing face and wonder where those little lines came from and when the hell did you start looking like your own mother. However, middle-age can also be a time to reinvent yourself, to make some new plans and dream some new dreams. It’s also a time to make peace with your body, and realize being beautiful and sexy has very little to do with a perfectly chiseled body and much more to do with your attitude and your passion about life!

I have a positive attitude because I’ve decided I’m going to have a positive attitude. And when I don’t have a positive attitude on the inside, I’ve decided to have one on the outside not because I want to be fake, but because I truly want to spread positive vibes to everyone I encounter all day rather than the negative ones I might be fighting off.

It’s this simple, you get what you give. So when I throw that positive stuff out there, it’s not too long before I get a whole lot of positive back and then I’m feeling that goodness both on the inside and the outside! You ever notice how that works? The same can be said for negative attitudes, if you surround yourself with bitchy, negative people, eventually, that’s how you start to feel also! So choose wisely who you share your precious time with!

Also, choose wisely what you spend your precious time on. There is a lot of negative news in the world and we saturate our lives with it. Unlike when we were younger when access to the news from around the world was confined to an hour around dinnertime, nowadays we are plugged into it 24/7. We are bombarded with information and “entertainment” and unfortunately a good portion of it is sad, infuriating, or just plain stupid. It’s not healthy. You can’t take in anger and sadness all day long and not expect it to have an effect on you, on how you feel.  Just like your body functions better on healthy food and exercise, so does your soul. If you feed it negativity and junk day and night, you get a soul full of negativity and junk!!! And just like eating too many greasy french fries and onion rings, you end up feeling pretty sluggish! So take in just what you need to be informed and involved and then turn it off and do something else with your time that feeds your soul!

Being positive also involves stopping and thinking sometimes before you speak or react to a situation. If you know me at all, you know that is not always my strength. I’ve had to work hard on it. Why do I feel negatively about this or that situation? Is it because I’m really hurt or am I just stressed, tired, hungry or hormonal? What is my motivation with the response I’m about to deliver? Usually, if my first reaction is negative, and I think about it a little while, I realize it’s not really negative at all and because I didn’t lash out right away, I’ve saved someone else from being the victim of my bad mood. Again, you get back what you put out there.

So at 48 I don’t need to be young, or have flawless skin, or a perfectly toned, thin body. I don’t need to be rich, or have a lavish home. I don’t need to be popular. What I need is truth, from myself and from those around me. What I need is positive energy, joy, and peace. What I want is laughter, lots of it! These are my goals. While none of it comes easily all the time, while it can all be so much work, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Paul McCartney


Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.