It was electric! It was bold! It was … positive!
Ugh. What a prior week. *sigh*
It was taxing. It was lazy. It was … negative.
It was all about the environment. No, not the tree-hugging, climate-control, save-the-rainforest type of environment. It was all about the personal kind. The I-put-myself-around-these-people-or-situations or I-chose-to-remain-around-these-people-or-situations type of environment. It’s almost always a matter of choice and action.
For the past month I have been in the warmer climate of Central Florida. (Nice place to visit, but I don’t want to live here.) I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with my family, everyone from my Dad & Mom, to my sister and her family, to my brother and his family. I love them all dearly. I’m grateful to have them in my life and to be a part of theirs. (You’re already feeling it, aren’t you? The approaching “But” or “However.”)
There is quite a bit of negativity that takes place in and/or around this environment. We sometimes talk behind each other’s backs. (Yep, that “we” includes me.) Add to that constant Local News on TV (and I do mean constant), Soap Operas just about every day, stories about bad things that happen in work situations that family members have endured (including law suits), and a loved one’s drift into deep dementia and you’ve constructed a place where those who enter are awash in negativity.
Let me say this before I go on: It’s not 100% negative. In fact, I’m grateful for the time that I get to spend with ALL of my family. There are spurts of laughter and moments of genuine love and definitely occasions of fun times.
Those spurts, moments, and times do not outweigh the onslaught of undesirable imports and deposits into one’s mind.
This past weekend I drove 9 hours to Knoxville, Tennessee for a conference of Independent Business Owners. I needed this trip. It was an opportunity to get around other people that I love. In this environment, though, it was nearly 100% the opposite of what I was experiencing in Florida. It’s odd to think that a business trip could be so wonderful an experience, considering what most corporate business trips involve, but I, on a quarterly basis, get the opportunity to be around GREAT men and women, who take time, and make it a point, to speak life into one another. (Yep, that group includes me.)
It’s amazing how much an environment, just for about 60 hours, can fully re-charge one’s mental positivity after about a month of being in an opposite environment.
How these two environments made me feel:
Home: This is that place where, we as adults, don’t live anymore. It’s where most of us go from time to time either out of a feeling of obligation or because we have a desperate need for those we love, who love us back. For most of us, this is where we will always be loved, regardless of what we’ve done in our lives, regardless of our successes and failures. But, this is also the environment that is the most unfiltered when it comes to what’s spoken or acted out. This is what many people would call “reality.” It is a collection of people with free will pouring day-to-day life experiences into the community cauldron for all to drink from (sometimes involuntarily).
My experience at home has been quite the mixture of laughter, love, and down times. Unfortunately, mostly the down times. And I’ve been a contributor into the community cauldron. It’s not possible not to be. I have poured some positive into it and some negative. I’ve also sprinkled into it some passivity.
It’s the coming home for the holidays and spending extended time with family that has brought us so many comedic movies, like “Christmas Vacation,” “Christmas with the Kranks,” and “Home for the Holidays.” It’s why we find them so funny, because we can relate with the sometimes-disastrous, sometimes-hilarious results of bringing all of these personality types and life situations together. But, unlike the movies, this environment has left me—and many of you—feeling mostly down—dispirited. Lots of people want to take an additional few days after “family time” to decompress. I’m one of those.
The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 has brought some harsh realities into the lives of most of my family. One of our loved ones, as I’ve already stated, has dementia. It’s a struggle. It’s depressing. It’s something that some of my family will not be able to prevent being around for more than just minutes or hours or a few days. This is something completely uncontrollable. It’s a new normal.
But there are things that are completely controllable, but no one makes the effort to control. Things like watching 2 ½ hours of extremely negative local news on television, followed by another half hour of national news, followed by game shows, followed by NCIS and a couple of other shows (mostly dealing with crime), followed by another half hour of negative local news.
Day after day this is the case. I have to duck out of the room where the TV is to get some solitude in another. But you see, ducking out doesn’t correct anything. It just prevents more of the same being introduced into my mind.
You see, slowing the amount of garbage going into your/my mind doesn’t make anything positive. It’s still a dumping ground filled with garbage. Receiving less doesn’t make it any cleaner.
So, at home, I’ve been mostly depressed or at best stagnant.
The Knoxville business event:
A few months ago I made a decision to get around the men and women of my business team at a large conference. It’s hard to imagine—outside of Heaven—a more positive, uplifting environment. Everyone is speaking life into others; encouraging people to greater achievements, believing for more opportunities to be a blessing to others. After 60 straight hours of this it’s very attitude-changing.
It’s incredibly freeing to be not only the recipient of such positive words and actions, but to be the giver—the spreader—of such positive words and actions. To see the eyes of someone into whom I have spoken words of encouragement—life—is nearly as energizing as being on the receiving end.
Every event that we have is like this. It’s a depository for life-enriching positiveness (yes, again, I know this isn’t a real word *grin*). It’s like throwing wonderful clean dirt on top of the garbage heap and depositing life-producing seed and pure water. It becomes one’s focus. It’s a wonderful feeling. One does not want to stop adding to it.
Life goes on after and outside of ALL positive environments, whether it’s church, a positive business team, or an encouraging group of friends. Until we get to enjoy Heaven, we’re always going to have to deal with the not-so-good realities that nudge their way into our lives.
We can choose to create for ourselves escapes. We can choose to—even for just minutes at a time—create positive deposits into the landscapes of our minds.
You can choose to pick up a book that has life in it. Of course, the most important is the Bible (in my humble, but totally accurate opinion), but there are many others that will help you and me to keep a positive mindset. Books like The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson or Imagine Big, by Terri Savelle Foy, or The Traveler’s Gift, by Andy Andrews. You and I can choose to plant good seed for growth.
You can choose to listen to audios (books on CD, audio streams, etc.) that speak life. Maybe it’s a pastor from a church, a motivational or inspirational audio, or something that you recorded for yourself that is packed with positive, life-changing statements. You and I can choose to plant good seed for growth.
You can choose to watch something that will inspire you. There are so many great movies that were made to show the lives of both real and fictional overcomers. Movies like “Cinderella Man,” “Facing the Giants,” “Warrior,” “Anne of Green Gables,” etc. It’s stories like these that cause the impetus to get out of one’s chair to take action in his/her own life.
You can choose a different environment. Sitting at home is never going to change your or my life situation. Getting out into the world beyond our four walls allows for the opportunity—not the guarantee—for something good to happen; be it a “chance” encounter with someone who can offer you a positive opportunity or a “chance” encounter in which you can be a blessing in someone else’s life. It’s in the world where we thrive, not in our living rooms.
It ALL comes down to environmental control. You are either going to control it or others are. You are either going to control the input that gets collected in your soul or others are.
Are you ready to make a difference … in you?