This Simple Trick Has Made the Most Positive Impact in My Life

Courtesy of my unofficial life coach, a.k.a. my best friend.
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emily and cristina

I'm generally a happy person. But what I only recently discovered was that I'm not exactly positive...and that the two are mutually exclusive. Let me explain.

The other day, I answered a call from Cristina. She was asking about a shoot I'd had the day before. And instead of telling her how it had gone off without a hitch and was something I was over-the-moon excited about, I focused on the negative. It had been a long day, I was exhausted, and hadn't gotten to any of my other work. And she called me out. She mentioned how I almost always start by sharing the negative: how stressed I am, how I've been sick, how Sloan's been acting up. And she's right. It's something I've unintentionally done for as long as I can remember, but her acknowledgment of it made me realize that I need to make a change.

I've always joked that Cristina's my unofficial life coach, of sorts. No other person in my life has the ability to pinpoint behavior of mine that needs shifting, and then deliver it in a way that doesn't make me feel immediately defensive. I brought up our conversation in the office the next day and it was funny how the editorial team was split in half. While Jess and I both admit to being (or at least coming across as) glass half-empty people, Leslie and Katie are the opposite and always kick-off conversations with the positive. Leslie even shared a mantra her mom taught her as a child to, "Bloom where you're planted." The idea is that no matter what situation you're in, be the person who makes the most of it. I was never given such a phrase and if I'm being honest, mine would probably be more along the lines of, "complain often." Womp womp.

In therapy, realizations like these are deemed "breakthroughs" and this was nothing short of that. I simply hadn't understood the impact it has, not only on others, but on myself as well when I focus first on things that haven't worked out. I put it into practice almost immediately and when Cristina called and asked how Sloan's doctor's appointment had gone earlier that day: I didn't begin with the fact that she'd sobbed from the moment we picked her up from school through the next hour and a half until we were on our way back home. Instead, I lead with, "Great! Sloan's healthy and we're now on the couch watching a movie and eating popsicles!" It's funny, but it almost felt like I was bending the truth at first, since the shift in perspective didn't come naturally. But as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I understood that they were the only things I should be concentrating on.

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest impact. I now find myself thinking about what has gone well in my day—the things that made me happy or that I'm proud of—instead of the opposite. It's an exercise in gratitude as well, because it often completely shifts my focus from things that have upset me to what really matters. And if I can eventually be the kind of person that finds the good in any situation, I might even see that the glass is, in fact, half-full.