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I’ve been having conversations lately about my approach or philosophy to life and dealing with challenges. I hinted at this in my Season for Getting Serious posts (Season for Getting Serious, Seeking Out the Blessing, Hurry Up & Slow Down, etc.), but with the next few Monday Motivation posts, I want to give you a few key components to my sunny disposition about life, even in times of distress.

I may have shared this little ditty on here before, but in case I haven’t, I’ll introduce it. This is part of a song that was in a play my Theatrical Musical Troupe leader wrote and I was involved with in the 7th or 8th grade. I don’t know if she wrote the song or if it’s a real song. **Edit: The internet is a wonderful thing. I did find out where the song came from. Ironically (and very fitting for this post), it is a war era forties song. That exactly fits in with who Mrs. Wilkins was as I knew her. I always imagined her to be like one of the Andrews Sisters, with a smart army skirt and pillbox hat on, part of a trio of leggy ladies singing for the soldiers. :D). Lyrics can be found online.*** I could share more if I were in Michigan; I’m almost certain I have the song somewhere (I keep everything). Anyway, the song:

(You’ve got to) Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative.

Hold on to the affirmative;

Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

Periodically, these few lines will rewind in my head when I’m having a rough time of things. It doesn’t matter if those rough times are a consequence of my wrong actions or I’m a victim of circumstance; my brain is armed with little sayings, scriptures, and yes, even songs from 7th or 8th grade plays that pick my spirits up.

I wish I could tell you what this song was specifically addressing in that play written by Mrs. Bettye Jean Wilkins, French teacher and Theatrical Musical Troupe director at Washington Middle School (shoutout to Mrs. Wilkins! :D); sadly, I don’t remember. What I can tell you is what this means to me.

When you are confronted with situations and circumstances that are trying, you have the ability to decide how you are going to meet the challenges inherent in such circumstances. My 7 Habits calendar has talked a lot about being proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive means that we’ve already decided before the circumstance has occured how we are going to confront problems. Reaction is a response to and action. It is dependent on what is done first. If your attitude or behavior is dependent upon your circumstances, the weather, what someone said about you, or what you got on a test, you are reactive. You are responding to a stimuli based on how you feel. My aunt had me take a course in reaction strategies when I worked for her. Reactive strategies reports were reports in which we had to write what someone did and how we reacted, justifying our reaction based on the appropriate strategies we’d learned. In essence, they were gauging whether or reaction was congruent with the proactive responses we had in place. Did we handle the situation correctly? Did we do what we had practiced and studied, or did we let our natural reactions get the better of us?

Over the years, I’ve worked at making this my natural reactive strategy:

  1. Accentuate the positive. Accentuate means to make more noticeable or prominent. Basically, look on the bright side. What positives are there in my life? Do I have resources and/or a plan or strategy in place to overcome this obstacle? Positives can be directly related to the situation or just positives in general.
  2. Eliminate the negative. Systematically get rid of the negative. You need to remove negative thoughts, destructive or non-productive thoughts, and self-defeating language from your head. Work at remedying every negative aspect of the situation. Leave cracks or crevices in which negativity can hide and breed.
  3. Hold on to the affirmative. What you know to be true and correct should be held on to. Plege your allegiance to a course of action or attitude and stick with it. Don’t be wishy-washy or indecisive (Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between).

I’m almost preternaturally optimistic. This is not my natural state (ask my mother). I had to teach myself to be optimistic, to seek out the blessing in a situation, not to stop for a prolonged period of time in Depression Station. I get disappointed and upset just like anyone else. I can feel a bit beat up on by life. But what I’ve always found to be true is a phrase I’ve already shared with you (hey, that rhymed!): I am uniquely qualified to conquer my trials. That’s a distinct positive! I have all the tools necessary to eliminate the negative. I just have to hold on to that affirmative statement. All previous trials have been like beating a video game villain in one of those quest/journeying games: once I’ve won that particular battle, I’ve been gifted a power, ability, or treasure for the war. No battle you win is a hollow victory you walk away from empty-handed, if you know how to:

Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Hold on to the affirmative; don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

At least, that’s my two cents. Leave yours in the comment section…and look for the next posts in this series.