Or do I need to “fake it until I make it?”
I know all about attitude and how it is the only thing I have control over. But taking that information and turning it into reality is not the same thing. So how do I turn my desire for the feeling of joy, of happiness, into a reality?
Over the centuries, many famous, well-known people, have used this technique to keep a positive attitude.
In fact, many only had their attitude to protect them. They could not do anything about their circumstances. Whether it was apartheid, Nelson Mandela, the right for women to vote, Susan B. Anthony, or POW interment, John McCain, they each were at the mercy of those who created their daily lives. But none of them gave in to their circumstances.
Each one determined their own attitude towards their circumstances.
And each one was able to rise above their day-to-day existence and envision their own world. Each one made a conscious choice to not give into the inevitability of their circumstances. Nelson Mandela spent years in jail before the end of apartheid. And then everything changed not only for him but for the nation as well.
And while the right for women to vote was suppressed for decades, Susan B. Anthony was still envisioning a world where women had the right to vote.
In later decades, John McCain spent years as a POW. And regardless of your thoughts on his politics, he had to make a choice about his capture. He could start in believing unhelpful thinking, “all is lost, I will NEVER get out of this,” or he could pick a different attitude. And John, just like the other two, chooses to adopt a positive, I will prevail attitude.
We know about these historical figures and think that they were special.
Each had some sort of internal dialogue that gave them the courage they needed to face each day. History gives us a glimpse into their thinking and the reasons they were so passionate about remaining positive. But what about us common folk?
Is it possible for someone who is not famous to focus not on their circumstances, but on their attitude towards their circumstances?
I know that sentence is clunky, but my thesaurus did not have another word for not. Regardless, history is full of instances where a person has overcome because of their attitude. So why can’t I make the same commitment? What is keeping me from saying, “I’m mad and I am not going to take it anymore”?
I breathe the same air those historical figures breathed.
My pants go on the same way (I cannot say for sure that Susan B. Anthony wore pants, but that’s another discussion). And I have the same supporters and distractors each of these historical figures had. In fact, my decision about my attitude should be easier to make. It is me, in my own head, that can choose how I will think about my life.
Just like historical figures, my decision shapes my world.
And yet I am standing on the edge, afraid to jump in. I am finding every excuse under the sun to not adjust my attitude. If it was that easy, I tell myself, everyone would be living their thoughts, and their dreams. And each of us, regardless of what is thrown in our path, would create an attitude that focused on what we wanted to have to happen, not what was happening.
Must I be a historical figure before I can have a more helpful attitude about my life?
It doesn’t seem fair that everyday people should not have the same opportunities to make decisions that enrich their lives, Yet this can and does happen. This concept has even spawned books such as When Bad Things Happen to Good People. My ability to rise above my depression and choose to live a life that includes joy should not rely on my being famous. So that feeling is just another way I can avoid changing my attitude.
Is it possible that even if I were famous, I would not have the strength to rechannel my attitude?
Some days, it feels like this is true. And this goes right back to depression’s unhelpful thinking styles. I get a case of “if only…” and those thoughts create, woulda, coulda, shoulda. None of this is helping me feel like I can change my attitude toward my depression.
I cannot even get to the chicken or egg concept.
My life goes on and all I am doing is wishing and hoping that things will change. This attitude, is my current choice, about how I will approach my life with depression. And by not making the choice to be joyful, I am letting my circumstances control my attitude.
For several years, I have written about not feeling joy or happiness.
This continues to be a sticking point in my relationship with depression. And I let this be a sticking point by not changing my attitude toward my thinking. I am still overthinking this. And I am using that as an excuse to not make the difficult choice to choose joy, to choose happiness.
So here I am, all dressed up with no place to go.
I need to find a way to be as strong as those historical figures I mentioned. Thinking that makes me remember that all I need to do is say, “my attitude has changed.” And it will be so.