Marty’s Musings on Positive Thinking

There has been a lot of talk lately about how a positive attitude can influence business success, but our February e-newsletter will focus more on what a positive attitude can do to improve quality of life.

When I think about this topic, I’m reminded of the time when I was the Director of a Foster Grandparent program many years ago. Many of the older people who had applied were required to have 40 hours of training before they could be assigned to work 20 hours per week with special needs children. They would often tell me they did not think they could make the commitment because they had so much chronic pain due to arthritis or knee or hip pain.

Many talked about how they were often immobilized due to weather, waiting for medications to take effect, and the inordinate amount of time and struggle just to get dressed. But in every case, once they started working one-on-one with their assigned special needs child, they told me the time flew by and they couldn’t believe when their four hour volunteer work with the child was over. They were so focused on providing love and encouragement to their child that they totally forgot about their own pain and discomfort.

They were amazed that their chronic disease or their constant worries and anxieties had somehow fallen into the background of their being. Many older people are isolated, living alone in their homes or apartments, happy to have some of their most meaningful possessions with them, but far from family. And due to mobility and/or transportation problems, don’t see others to interact with or actively participate in watching activities.

My own mother-in-law is just an amazing example of a positive attitude improving quality of life. At age 99, she is blind in one eye and walks very slowly with stand-by assistance only, has difficulty hearing, and has no teeth. Yet she says she’s grateful for what she has.  She can still eat; she can see well out of one eye to watch sports on TV, watch her great grandchildren, feel the sunshine, walk and climb stairs, and talk a little on the phone.  She says, “What good would it do to complain.

It wouldn’t change anything, except to make me feel bad and prevent me from enjoying what I have, while I still have it.”  “If I can go up the stairs now only once to the bedroom at night and come down and spend the day downstairs, at least I can still do that.”

Doing things we enjoy, while it may be difficult, gives us another outlook, another perspective.

Just making the effort can make all the difference.  For example, going to a museum, an art gallery, a concert or a musical, or even to have someone take you for a drive and coffee out in a cafe can change one’s attitude not just for that hour or two but sometimes, for the whole week.

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