Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar
At a recent staff meeting, my principal began by asking the teachers how the school year was going. As can be expected, there were mixed reviews, and a cyclone of complaints steadily gained momentum. From staff shortages to computer problems to general middle school issues, the natives were definitely getting restless. My principal acknowledged these “deficits” but had one request for us… he asked us to focus on our assets instead of the things we were lacking. He told us he was aware that there were tons of additional items we needed, but unfortunately, we couldn’t have them all. So, could we ban together and accentuate the positive, doing the best with the resources we had?
Now, I’ll have to admit that I’m a little brain-dead during after school meetings, and sometimes messages don’t hit home. In fact, many times I zone out completely. However, that day, I stopped and listened to his honest and sincere logic.
Focus on your assets. That made a lot of sense, and actually reminded me of my most recent marathon, where I had some stretches where my assets were not at the forefront of my mind. For some reason, I was feeling tired, sore, and wiped out at mile three. This is way too early to feel bad, so I started to freak out.
My inner dialog went something like this- My hip hurts. Why the hell does my left hip hurt? And why am I hungry? I shouldn’t be hungry now. Come to think of it, I’m kind of thirsty too… what is going on?
Then I ran a mile or two more, and just when my hip pain disappeared, my left knee began hurting. Next it was my right ankle, then my left knee again. I was convinced I would fall apart, right there on the course, before I even got to mile ten. I knew I had to do something drastic in the “mind over matter” department.
At first, I tried to tell myself that I felt great. You are looking good. Your body feels great. You don’t have to use the bathroom. You’re not going to die.
Yet, all of these fine proclamations did little more than completely tick myself off. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when everything in the world is making you miserable including yourself. So, I asked myself, “What would Oprah do now if she were in my Brooks Adrenalines?” Surely she’d have a fabulous body-mind-spirit cure to get through. I remembered her talking once about gratitude and how it could help us through rough times. Something about how it’s better to focus on what’s good instead of bad. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what she said, so I decided to just focus on what I was grateful for. It took me a minute to get the hang of it.
I’m grateful that even though I feel like total crap, I am able to run this marathon. (AM I able to run it?)
WHY am I running this marathon? Why does anyone run marathons?
I’m grateful it’s sunny out and not raining. It could be raining now, and I’d feel miserable in the rain. At least I’m miserable in the sunshine.
I’m grateful I have such a nice husband who woke up early to drive my friend and me to the start of this race.
I’m grateful my husband, parents, and sisters will be looking for me at mile 20. (Will I get there?)
I’m grateful to have such a nice running partner.
I’m grateful to have a cute new running outfit.
It turned out that Oprah was right. By paying attention to the good things in my life, it took the attention off my aches and pains, and I started to feel much better. Slowly, but surely, I became more hopeful and started to actually enjoy the run.
Now, the run wasn’t a walk in the park after my exercise in being grateful. Yes, I hit some walls along the way and didn’t always feel so swell. But, I found that focusing on the negative elements of my run only brought in more negative energy. Similarly, when I focused on the positive, everything around me felt better.
The truth of the matter is, whether we’re running marathons or going through our daily lives, it’s just so much easier to complain about the things that we’re lacking, rather than the things that we have. The job that’s not quite what we want, the house that isn’t perfect, the things we want to buy but can’t afford… the list could go on and on.
But I think that my principal and Oprah have it going on when they talk about focusing on the positive whenever possible, and using what we have to propel us forward. After all, what we have… is what we have, so we might as well make the very best of it, even if what we have is a body that aches at mile 3. Because to this Runnerchica, a bad day at mile 3 beats a good day on the couch any way you shake it.