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It’s All In Your Mindset

Ever met a positive person who seems to find the silver lining in all situations, despite the adversity facing them? If you have, I bet you cling to them. I know I do. Why wouldn’t we, right?

I’m currently reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focuses on (in case you haven’t already guessed) happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Achor discusses a great many things about how we can be happier individuals, but one tidbit that stood out for me was our mindset and facing adversity. We all have had trials and tribulations – some more tragic than others. How we deal with them is how we differ as human beings. If we look at the challenge we’re facing as an opportunity, we’re more likely to be happy. Simple, yes. But how many of us fall into that trap of the  “whoa is me” mindset when something isn’t going our way?

As I drove in my car the other day thinking about adversity and overcoming it, the first person who came to my mind was my father. His attitude toward life was always positive. He saw a rainbow when there was rain. The man appreciated life. Anyone who knew him can attest to his friendliness and zest for life.

Many, many years ago, Dad was a state trooper, protecting and serving the fine citizens of the Sunshine state. One fateful day, Dad had a near-tragic accident while in the line of duty. The accident left him in a coma for three months and with a brain injury. Doctors speculated he’d never walk or talk again. The outlook wasn’t optimistic. But they didn’t know my dad. They didn’t know that he was determined and saw it as a challenge he wanted to overcome.

He spent more than a year in rehabilitation, learning to walk again, to talk again, to do all of the daily things he needed to survive. These are things we don’t often think about because we have them within our grasp and take them for granted. But, unfortunately, when something of meaning to us is taken from us, our focus changes,  and we fully appreciate what it was to us and yearn for whatever was lost to come back.

My dad proved his doctors wrong. He walked and talked and did all of the things they said he wouldn’t ever do again. He was never completely whole again, but he never saw himself that way. None of us did. He saw it as a second chance. Think of all the people you know who have had near-death experiences, some of them might have a new, improved outlook on life. True story: our time here is limited and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest. We can either focus on what we don’t have or appreciate what we’ve been given. 

(This picture was taken about 15 years after my dad’s accident.)

I once asked my dad if he regretted the accident, and his response to me was, “I would have never met your mother and had you kids if I hadn’t had the accident.” (That’s another beautiful story to share at another time). His response to adversity: see it as an opportunity for something great to come. And with that attitude, he lived a full life the remaining years he was blessed to be on this planet.