I've been thinking a lot about the ups and downs of life lately.
After the last issue of Positivity Delivered, the bimonthly newsletter compiling my blog posts, I received a kind email from a woman who heard me speak earlier this year: "It sounds like you were down but definitely on your way back up!! Good news!!"
In my reply to that email, I said, "Life is definitely a roller coaster sometimes, and I try to be honest about the ride!" Because it's true. I was in a tough spot. And I'm doing okay now. Yet I realize I will be down again. And up again. And down again. And up again.
One of the dangers of being a speaker about positivity is that some people expect you to be positive all the time. But that's not possible. For me, at least. At my core, I'm an optimist, I'm a pep talker, I'm a go-getter, I'm a cheerleader, I'm an organizer, I'm a random-acts-of-kindnesser, I'm a leader, I'm a force for good.
But sometimes I'm mean. Sometimes I'm disorganized. Sometimes I just want someone else to be in charge. Sometimes I'm not very productive. Sometimes I'm sad.
And usually when people learn this, they breathe a sigh of relief. Because it reminds them that this life is not all-or-nothing. Just because you have a bad day or a bad week, it doesn't mean you have a bad life. Ups and downs are inevitable, and bad times make the good times all the better.
One of the most painful critiques I have received was when a high school student who participated in my program on The Power of Positivity wrote, "I did not agree with the thought that positive thinking can fix all your problems. I feel like she implied that you can smile away all bad thoughts, which is not actually possible. I also didn't really enjoy when she talked about personal family loss and that we have to kind of just have to smile through it, which is not very possible and extremely underrated." Oy. That is NOT the message I wanted to get across. A smile and positivity strategies help in many situations, but they don't make the problems or the pain go away. We are not meant to live an uncomplicated always-joyful life.
I'm working on expecting and accepting that life is complicated, full of pain and health, suffering and joy, losses and victories, downs and ups. No doubt, I will continue to focus on ways to improve my health, increase my joy, maximize my victories and experience more ups. But I'm going to decrease my resistance to pain, suffering, losses and downs.
Ride the waves.