I don’t have a killer reputation as a super-bubbly, positive person. I’m more of a realist, which sometimes can be mistaken for a cynic…but this world and this life is crazy so the two–realism and cynicism–intersect more than most people are comfortable admitting.
I’ve long relied on a movie scene (that no one else really knows) from the old Jodie Foster movie “Little Man Tate” to illustrate how I felt. The woman says something to her son and he replies that he’s not crabby; he’s pensive.
Well that’s me. Pensive. Not to be mistaken for crabby.
Some people would get it, some people wouldn’t. But isn’t that the way?
So I recently started watching True Detective on HBO, and have only seen the first episode. But there’s an exchange between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson that resonated like crazy. Four days later it still is.
MM: “I consider myself a realist, but in philosophical terms I’m a pessimist.”
WH: “What’s that mean?”
MM: “It means I’m bad at parties.”
WH: “You ain’t good outside of parties either.”
D’oh. That nails me.
But part of being realistic, to me anyway, means being positive and upbeat and having a good attitude in the millions of places where we have a choice. (Don’t worry…the realist in me readily admits that sometimes there is no silver lining, and that’s ok.) So I work really hard to utilize the power of positivity.
One of the things I do to make sure I frame my days in the positive is by documenting every day’s “redemptive quality” (RQ). I write down the date and the thing that made that day worth it. It can’t include any negativity like “in spite of” or “despite.” And it’s ok if the day’s RQ is that it ended or that you made it through. But it has to be positive.
Some of mine?
The first one:
Today’s redemptive quality: my new playlist. And the bonus, the 80s playlist at the gym tonight. (2/26/13)
Some random ones:
RQ, 3/3/13…Wompatuck for water with dad and a win for Annie at hoops. “You don’t mess with me.”
RQ, 10/13/2013: 1/2 marathon PR, 1:54:55
RQ, 1/16/2014: Johnny yelling “I love you, Nicky. Come back soon.” out the window after me as I was leaving.
These are not carefully curated selections. I scrolled through my notes and grabbed some for illustrative purposes. The only thing deliberate about my selections is that I wanted to cover a period of time. In doing so, I realized that I have been doing this for almost exactly a year (give or take 5 days). I’m learning a lesson in that realization: reflect more, ruminate less.
But my views on lessons and learning will have to come later.
Take time every day and reflect on what was good. You can always find something. And you’ll surprise yourself with how easily it comes, and how often you aren’t limited to a single good thing. I find that writing it down in an iCloud note works great–it forces me to do it, physically, and in hindsight I love having a written record. Speaking of hindsight, when I reviewed the last year, there were waaaay more good things than days that I “just got through.”
So, for now I will leave you with a great line from one of the greatest one-hit wonders of the 1980s to sum my perspective all up: “I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert, but I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime.” –from (In A) Big Country by Big Country