Bye, Negativity

Happy Wednesday, loves!

How many negative thoughts have you had this morning? Hazard a guess. I’ve probably had dozens already, and it’s first thing in the morning. Honestly, it’s so hard not to find negative thoughts creeping in these days. Any day, really, but these days it’s almost impossible not to feel negative more often than you’re accustomed to.

Let’s face it; the world is an ugly place. No matter your personal beliefs, your political affiliation, your stance on current events in the world, it’s an ugly place right now. Most people are in a mood…and it’s not a good one. You already know I’m not that much of a people person, but I’m so much less of a people person these days. It seems everywhere I go, more and more of the people I encounter are in a bad mood.

The news is filled with negativity. Newsfeeds are filled with negativity. I’ve taken to using social media to post my photos to share with my grandmother and other family members, and then I’m out. I haven’t scrolled my own Facebook feed since the beginning of July. I can’t. It’s so negative. People can’t have their political beliefs without shoving them down the throats of everyone else. People who don’t speak up about current events are suddenly the problem. People who don’t speak up soon enough about current events are the problem. People who speak up about current events but not in a timely fashion are the problem. People who speak up about current events but disagree with your opinions about current events are the problem.

April Stock Photo

You guys…we have enough problems. What’s with all the negativity? Everything is so negative anymore, and you know that this kind of negative consumption is feeding our brains and our hearts nothing but garbage. I’m done with it. I am so careful in so many areas of my life to choose positive people, positive influences, things and people that bright me joy and happiness, and I’m not about to let the fake, fear-mongering news and social media and everyone else’s opinions ruin all that hard work I put into leading a happy life.

To quote that one woman that one time (can someone remind me of the exact event, please?), “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So, how do we stop these negative thoughts from sinking in and becoming our prevalent thoughts? It’s not easy. We are hardwired to have negative thoughts simply because we are more sensitive to negativity. But, it’s possible to (I’m sure I’m quoting my mother, here) ‘turn that frown upside down,’ and have positive thoughts.

2

Get Rid of the Phone

Social media, the news, our emails, all of it. It’s killing us a moment at a time. How many times a day do you dread checking your email because you know that you’re going to get an email or a text from a client, a coworker, a friend, a family member, a company, someone who needs a favor, wants to add something else to your plate? How many times do you check social media and find yourself annoyed by the posts you’re reading?

Get off the phone. Stop checking. Turn off your notifications. Set aside a few minutes a day to check the important stuff, and stay off social media and the news sites you’re so accustomed to inhaling and absorbing each and every day. This is especially important in the morning when you wake up. Don’t start your day with that nonsense.

1

Write Down Your Feelings of Gratitude

You already know that this is helpful, but let’s start actually doing it, okay? Pick up a notebook today while you’re out. Write down three to five things first thing in the morning that you are grateful for and that are good in your life. They can be big, small, whatever. Just write them down, then read the list. Then add a few more things to that list at the end of the day that are specific to that day. Keep this up. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are able to turn your negative thoughts into less frequent visitors. For example, this morning I am grateful for these things:

  • Watching the sunrise over our backyard from my spot on the lanai while it’s still quiet at home
  • Being able to be home with my kids to make memories and be present in their lives
  • Listening to my sweet twins read books to me out loud
  • Family dinners and game nights
  • A whole cup of coffee consumed in absolute silence while the sun rises
  • Front porch rocking
  • Being married to a man who kisses me every single time he walks by me

4

Shut Down Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts come to mind, make it a habit to literally tell them to stop. Literally, say it aloud. Say, “Stop, right now. Stop this train of thought, right now,” and keep that going. Every single time a negative thought comes to mind, tell yourself to stop. Out loud. Where you can hear it. It’ll help.

1

Write Down Your Negative Thoughts

Okay, Tiffany, tell us again how we are writing down things we are happy for and then telling ourselves to physically stop thinking negative thoughts, yet you have us writing down our negative feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper?

I realize it seems counterproductive, but it’s not. Now that you are working on getting rid of negative thoughts, take a moment to write down what bring you these thoughts. Your negative beliefs. Your negative feelings, etc. For example, if I were writing down my own negative beliefs right now, my list would look like this:

  • People are so negative
  • No one bothers to use their common sense anymore
  • The world is so divided
  • Kindness suddenly seems gone from the world
  • All I see are bad things all day, every day

But, that’s not true, now is it? People aren’t all negative. Some are, but not everyone in the world is negative. Some people lack a lot of common sense, but most don’t. The world is not as divided as the mainstream media wants us to believe. Kindness is everywhere; it’s just not as visible because it’s not nearly as newsworthy. All I see are bad things everyday because I’m seeing news stories and opinions online, and I’m not focused on the good things that surround me all the time.

You see? I just debunked – to borrow a term from mainstream media – all the negative thoughts in my mind. They look a little silly when they’re on paper, don’t they?

1

Just Relax

What’s going to happen is going to happen, and worrying about it and thinking about it and feeding it your constant negative attention is not going to make a difference. Let life unfold before you, and don’t perpetuate fear and uncertainty in your own mind. It’s not helpful.

13

Detox Your Digital Life

I’m not an advocate for unfollowing people or pages that don’t fit your narrative or simply because you don’t agree with their outlook, but sometimes you have to do it. Let me be very clear; don’t go unfollowing people because they have different beliefs than you. Do unfollow them if they bring negativity to your life or your feed. For example, unfollow someone who name calls or belittles or says hurtful things. Or, even more simply, detox your pages so you’re only seeing things that bring you joy and happiness, even if that means unfriending your mom and only following pages filled with kittens and puppies and donuts.

1

Take Care of You

I feel like a broken record because I say this all the time, but that should really make it obvious how important this is. Take care of you. Don’t put yourself last. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to work out or eat healthy – nothing is further from the truth. I see you – and I hear you – saying you’re so busy and overwhelmed and you don’t have time to go to the gym or work out or eat a healthy diet, but I also see you sharing dozens of memes and articles and commenting on every political post on the internet each and every day and talking about binging your favorite shows every evening when the kids are in bed. You have time; you don’t have the right priorities.

Get up. Take a walk. Go a quick breathing exercise. Work out at home. Download a workout app. Go for a quick run. Do some squats or crunches during commercial breaks. You have time, but you have to make it a priority. Meal prep. Or, if you’re like me and you cannot fathom the idea of eating leftovers (I cannot eat anything that’s been put in the fridge and then taken back out to reheat), order a meal service so the hard work is done. We love Hello Fresh. We love their calorie smart and vegetarian meals, ironically (we are not vegetarian). They’re quick, flavorful, and so easy.

Drink more water while you’re at it. If you’re not hydrated, you’re not living your best life. It’s really that easy. Take care of yourself. Eat right, make yourself a priority. It’s easier to feel good when you actually feel good, you know?

1

Focus on the Good in Your Life

The best things in life really are those small moments. Of course, you’ll always remember the big ones and the amazing ones, but those little ones are what make up your entire complex system of happiness and fulfillment. You find your joy in those little moments. Focus on those. Look around you. Focus on what little things you do each and every day that bring you so much joy.

For me, it’s when the kids laugh and giggle and climb all over us in the pool. It’s doing cannonballs and letting down my hair – literally – to jump in the pool in the pouring rain not caring how I look. It’s simple Saturdays talking about life and laughing about every-damn-thing with the people we love most. It’s Saturday nights laughing nonstop with some of the most hilarious people around. It’s the excitement on the kids’ faces when someone rolls a Yahtzee during game night. It’s the moment my husband makes eye contact with me during the eyeroll-inducing 3908 questions Carter asks during every. Single. Movie. Night. Ever. It’s his excitement when we watch a movie about tornadoes. It’s mornings when my husband’s alarm goes off and he snoozes it for 9 minutes so he can cuddle with me a little longer. It’s Wednesday night traditions. It’s sitting on the lanai with my coffee in the morning. It’s Sunday dinners. It’s the way Addison is so sweet with her sisters and her brother. It’s Ava’s quick wit and smart mouth. It’s Charlotte’s sugar-sweet kindness and love for everyone. It’s Carter’s quick laugh and sweet “I love you, mommy,” and the feeling I get when my husband reaches for my hand when we are walking anywhere.

It is so many small moments that, when you put them together, create such a beautiful life. Even when the world is a shitshow of WTF all around us, it’s those moments you can turn to and know that you are living your best life even if you momentarily forgot all about it.

Dealing with an Incorrect Definition of “Normal” and Negativity

9

Happy Monday, loves!

It’s okay to be non-traditional. I like to say that my husband and I are the most traditionally non-traditional people ever. We are your typical high-school sweethearts who got married, traveled, built a house, built a life, started having babies, advanced our careers, and made dreams come true – we are very traditional in that aspect.

We are very non-traditional in that we spend literally every waking moment together because we share an office. We both work from home. He has his dream job with a company he loves, and he works from our home office every day. I started my business a decade ago (I’m a writer – I create web content, landing pages, service pages, blog posts, etc. for my clients) and I’ve worked from home ever since. We don’t do the “See you tonight, have a good day,” kiss at the door in the mornings thing.

We work out together at lunch. We date one another. We still really like one another and spending time together. We are both workaholics. We aren’t traditional. I’m not traditional. And that’s all right.

But if there is one thing you learn about living life in a way so few other people live it is that there is a lot of negativity. It’s “Normal” to wake up in the morning and go to work for someone else for 8 hours a day making a few dollars an hour. It’s “normal” to hate Mondays and look forward to the weekend like it’s your life-line. It’s “normal” to come home from work in the evenings and literally say you’re not on the clock, so you’re not doing a damn thing for anyone at work.

But that’s not our normal. Our normal is always thinking about work – it’s how we maintain our success and how we’ve managed to surpass every goal we make for ourselves so much earlier than we imagined we’d be able to meet said goals. Our normal is freedom and control. Our normal is no pants, no problem (sorry FedEx and UPS men…I know y’all don’t appreciate that as much as we do).

Normal is whatever you want it to be, and that’s what’s so amazing about life. What it doesn’t mean, though, is we are exempt from negativity. There are always people in life who want to bring others down to their level. Negativity comes from two places – negative people try to bring you down and downplay your successes because they are disappointed in themselves for not working harder to create their own dream, or their negativity comes from fear based off a lack of understanding.

For example, it’s easy to grow up believing that once you’ve been married 13 years, you don’t have sex as often. You argue. You don’t find your partner so attractive. You don’t date because you have kids. You’ve let yourselves go a bit, and you don’t spend much time together. We’re taught that marriage falls a little bit into a ‘comfort zone’ and the ‘honeymoon’ phase wears off after a while. So that’s what many people believe.

But that’s not our reality, and it doesn’t have to be yours. My husband and I are closer than ever. We work out together, we date, we find one another attractive, and our private life is very, very good. That’s our reality because we realize we get to create that for ourselves and do whatever we want – we aren’t required to fall into what’s considered ‘normal’ in the world. You get what you want by working for it.

Another example: I hear moms all the time complaining that they want to lose some of their baby weight or that they don’t have time to do their hair or makeup or bother with real clothes during the day, and that it’s not ‘normal’ for a mom to dress up daily or work out regularly. They let their idea of ‘normal’ become an excuse for not reaching their dreams.

Listen, I get it. Reaching your dreams and getting what you want out of life takes a lot of work. You have to be willing to go a lot of extra miles, to do what other people aren’t willing to do, and to put in the werk to get it done. Getting started is hard; I know. But allowing your empty goals to seem all right by calling them ‘normal’ is not all right unless you’re totally fine with that and still cool with the success of other people in their lives.

I’m off on a tangent here, aren’t I? I’m just bothered so much by negativity. This weekend was one of the most spectacular weekends. We spent all day Saturday – and I mean all. Damn. Day. from wake-up to bedtime – at our best friend’s river house with them, our four kids, and their three kids. We missed the first party there because our daughter had her dance recital a few weekends ago, which was a huge disappointment because it’s been months since they told us they were buying it and we’ve been excited to see it for so long.

As we spent the day lying on the dock while the kids swam and kayaked and dove and did gymnastics and caught tiny fish and played together like they’ve been doing their entire lives, we were just talking about how we were living the dream. Getting to do what we want and love each day, having all the freedom we’ve ever wanted, and #livingourbestlives every day.

Yet there are still people in the world who want to bring their own negativity into all our lives, and sometimes you can’t get rid of every single toxic person. We like to surround ourselves with the best people, and we’ve always done it. But there are times when negativity does find its way in, and you have to deal with it. Without getting into the details, some people just can’t be happy for you no matter how many dreams you reach, how much success you have, how much you do for them, how much you give…and that’s all right.

Normal isn’t the same to everyone.

I think it’s “normal” to be happy for the people I love when they succeed. I think it’s “normal” for people to say they want to do something in their life and then do it, succeed, and love life. I think it’s “normal” to have everything I’ve ever wanted.

The problem is people are taught that normal is one thing, and so many people are afraid to go outside that comfort zone of ‘normal’ and go after what they want. There’s room for everyone to succeed. There is room for everyone to get what they want in life, and there is plenty of room to love your own life and what you’ve accomplished while still also being happy for those who’ve done the same in their own lives. Normal is everything you want it to be, but negativity is still negativity.

Whether you are living with negative people in your life or you are the negative person in your life, it’s not too late to learn to create your own normal and get rid of negativity as much as possible. Trust me, it’s a work in progress. I’m like a million percent imperfect, but I try to remind myself of these things each morning. I get up, shower, take my coffee to the couch so I can read my First 5 and spend some time with God, and then I read these quotes I have saved in my phone to remind myself of who I am and what my normal looks like before I start my day.

Each one is a helpful tool, and maybe once you change how you approach normal and negativity in your life, you’ll inspire those around you to take a cue from your positive attitude and do the same.

10

  1. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.

As long as you’re happy with your life, it doesn’t matter if anyone else is happy. If you aren’t happy, fix it.

14

  1. Don’t gossip.

This one is hard because it’s so easy to discuss other people, but it’s also small and unattractive. It’s not easy to forgo partaking in idle gossip, “Did you hear so-and-so did XYZ?” might not seem like gossip when someone is relaying a story to you about someone else, but it is. I can assure you as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more obvious to me it’s pointless. There should be about 10 million important things in your own life that deserve the attention. Besides, it’s ugly.

8

  1. Don’t take it personally.

You will never be the best at everything. Not everyone will love you. Not everyone will understand you. Not everyone will want to see you happy or successful. It’s cool, though. Don’t take it personally. Most people only dislike you because you represent something they are not or something they want to be. Or else you are just totally out of your mind crazy…but that’s all right, too.

5

  1. Be kind.

Honestly, there’s nothing cooler than someone who is a good person. It’s nice.

3

  1. Enjoy your life.

If you love it and enjoy it, love it and enjoy it. Happiness is fun, and your idea of happiness is your own. Embrace it, live it, love it, and enjoy every second. You aren’t meant to be just like everyone else. Just because your life doesn’t match up with what someone else feels your life should match up to doesn’t mean it’s not your reality. Your marriage doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. Your parenting skills don’t have to be like everyone else’s. Your level of happiness doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. You get to create your own happiness, and that’s what life is all about.

I like to say I’m living my best life, and I mean that. It’s not always perfect, but it’s always good. Even on the bad days, I’m taking something with me that makes the good days that much better – and my attitude helps me keep things from being that bad. If you’re not living your best life, figure out what you need to do to make it happen. You can take control of your life, live your way, and you can change what you don’t like about yourself. Choose to be happy, choose to be positive, and choose to respect that about others as well.

I like to surround myself with people who are like me. I like people who are happy for other people. I like people who support one another, and I like people who make me laugh and really enjoy life. I choose people who love their marriages and spouses. I choose people who sometimes think their kids are assholes. I choose people who have the same values and morals as myself. I have the best people – and I’ve had them for a very, very long time (and I cannot wait for our getaway in less than three weeks!)…and they know who they are!

I hope you’re doing the same. You can’t always avoid the people who are toxic and negative. You might be forced to spend time with them on occasion, but you aren’t required to let their issues become your issues. And always remember this – I’m happy for you. I support you. I applaud your successes, and I encourage you to try again when you fail. Failure, after all, is the best learning tool and educational asset.