Life can be so much fun.  There are people to meet, places to visit, and exciting relationships toPositive thinking and gratitude to reduce stress enjoy. It?s wondrous when it all works, and it?s terrifying when it doesn?t.  Things happen. Horrible, horrific, and wonderful things ? and these things come every day - every day we are experiencing something new.  Even with the best-laid plans, we can find ourselves in the heat of a moment we didn?t plan.  

Our kids get in trouble.  Our spouse gets laid off.  We find out we have a medical issue to manage. Our pay gets reduced.  Our house value goes in the tank.  The knee jerk reaction is to let the stress of the moment and the energy of the situation take over.  Like a big wave at the beach, we can get sucked in and be left gasping for air.   

Developing tools and learning how to manage your perspective helps.  Like a muscle, if you don?t use it, it becomes weak.  But when you exercise it, it becomes strong.  Understanding that we are in control of our thoughts changes our response, our energy, and the situation ? because whatever we focus on, expands.

If faced with a choice when difficulties come your way, would you want to fall down and just give up?  There are times, many I have endured myself, where it feels like everyone is against you and the world is falling on your shoulders.  I get it, challenging times are hard.  But the truth of it is, whether we realize it or not, we have the ability to move ourselves forward and move away from the angst of the day.

Years ago, I was faced with life changing events.  I went through a tumultuous divorce and subsequently lost my first business, I endured an emergency surgery, my retriever broke her leg, and in the middle of one of our hottest summers, the air conditioner broke.

I was at my wits end.  As I lay in my house, I pondered what had just happened to me.  At the top of my game, I came tumbling down.  

So I began to think about what I had left.  It was then that I realized that I had my thoughts ? I could control WHAT I thought about, HOW I thought about it and WHEN I thought about it or how much focus I gave it.  It was then that I realized I had everything. 

It sounds Pollyanna-ish and it should.  When you get stuck, you need a life raft to pull you up and out.  Controlling what I focused on was my life raft.  Below is the simple formula I used then, and still use today.

1.  Find the good.  I promise you, it?s there.  It might not be obvious or it might not be easy to think about, but there is always good.  We are here, living during the best times in history (even despite the current wars, recession, etc).

Even for the situations that are just awful, even the times when you feel like you can?t move another step forward, there is good.  Having loved ones in our lives, experiencing beautiful sunsets, enjoying a song that moves you to tears, knowing that our health is in good shape, are all things that are good.  It might take you some time to find it, but it?s there. 

2.  Focus on what you want.  This is so much easier said than done, but it?s a quick tool that can help move you forward.  It?s very easy to look at what is in front of you, get upset, and feel badly.  It?s harder to look at what is in front of you, decide that while it might be yucky, you are going to focus on where you are heading and the goals you have set for yourself.  Whatever you focus on expands.  Focus on the bad, and it?s everywhere.  Focus on the good, and you feel better right away.

3.  Have gratitude.  I learned a tip years ago from a wise teacher who taught me to get out of bed in the morning and with each foot I put on the floor, say ?Thank? and ?You?.  It might feel silly but it starts your day with the awareness that every moment is a gift.  When you find gratitude in your life, everything else is put into perspective.  This very second, I am thankful I have the opportunity to write and connect with others.  

Remember to be gentle with yourself.  We are all just people, showing up every day, doing the best we can.  Situations do not define you.  YOU define you.  Take these three very simple, yet very powerful steps and change your day.  You?ll be glad that you did.  And I?ll be grateful.