Brighter Days Ahead

Good things will happen. This positive message adorns the cover of a personal pocket journal that appeared on my desk this week, a surprise gift from a good friend who routinely listens to my struggles and felt that I could use some encouragement. Because lately, having the ability to look on the bright side of things is not my strongest quality.

The truth is, when we allow our minds to go down a negative path, it will continue to take us there until we force ourselves to see the light. I, for one, am guilty of sprinting down the road of negativity every time anything goes wrong in my life. While I am a huge fan of The Killers 2003 debut single, I am not by nature “Mr. Brightside.” When life hands me lemons, I don’t see lemonade. I just see a handful of lemons that I did not ask for.

Jen Wilde’s young adult novel The Brightsiders begins with a dedication page ‘for everyone just trying to do their best in this world’. Let me tell you…I feel that. How many times in my life have I attempted to do my best in any endeavor, only to come up short, or worse? For the novel’s main character, Emmy, her story quickly goes from sitting on the top of the world, to becoming a living trainwreck hiding behind a pair of oversized shades. Identifiably real, I think we can all say that we have been there at least once in our lives.

Library copy of The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

To fail at anything is a terrible feeling. To fail publicly feels even worse. As the emotional and sensitive creatures that we are, it is natural for us to want to hide ourselves away behind dark glasses when we do something wrong rather than be seen amidst the openness of our faults. But, the problem in hiding is that it only provides temporary relief. So, while it is much easier to plop ourselves on the sofa with a woobie and a carton of Haagen-Dazs, the reality is that during these times of personal missteps, more than anything else, we need to get off the couch and look for the bright side.

And then the real work starts: proving to yourself and the world that you’re better than your worst day.

Jen Wilde, The Brightsiders

German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche stated in his last original work Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is his most famously quoted self-aware insight “what does not kill me makes me stronger”, meaning that one should take personal suffering as an opportunity to build strength. Looking at the bright side takes enormous amounts of personal strength sometimes to see the positive outlook in our present circumstances, as well as our future trajectory, followed by the ability to believe that things will work out in the end.

When faced with defeat, can you remain cheerful in a bad situation? It’s definitely something I continue to work on. Positivity serves as a buffer from stress, helps relieve some of the effects brought on by anxiety and depression, and can ward off potential health problems. This is the time when I have to take that handful of unwanted lemons and see what I can make from them.

I recently applied for, and lost, two major awards that would have made a huge impact on my life and given me the validation that the past six years of heart and soul effort that I gave to both endeavors was worth it. One, was a State History Award for the upgraded facility, interactive exhibits, and handicap-accessible improvements at the museum where I serve as Vice President of the board. All done on volunteer time. The other was Poshmark’s Heart and Hustle award, a monetary grant for sellers who meet certain sales criteria and submit written and video responses to predetermined questions. Being a Poshmark reseller started as a passion project side job that I have invested into since 2014, while working a full-time library job and living life as a divorced mother of four.

In the end, I was faced with two major losses. Initially, I felt devastated. And, while I did spend a few days crying and feeling bad about the defeats, in the end, it did not stop me from keeping my dreams. I have gratitude for everything I have accomplished to this point. And I still believe in the vision I have set in my mind for the future. Anyone who has ever reached for a goal undoubtedly faced failure along the way. But, that does not mean that you have to lose the dream, as well. You just have to find another way. And that, my friends, is where the bright side steps in to save the day, giving you the hope and possibility that everything will work out in the future. So, take off those oversized shades and let the light shine in.

Here are some things you can do when failure feels overpowering:

  • Cry. You might as well start here. It feels good. It releases some of the negativity. And it is probably going to happen whether you want it to or not.
  • Meditate. Find a quiet place and allow your thoughts to rest.
  • Exercise. Grab your tennis shoes and go outside for a walk, jog, or run. Focus on the elements in nature and their beauty.
  • Write. Take three pages of blank paper and write down every single thought that pops into your head. Swear words and all. Let it out.
  • Talk. Pick up your phone and text or call a friend, a colleague, a sibling, or a self-help line. Someone is willing to listen to you if you are willing to talk.
  • Breathe. Take deep breaths. Slow and deliberate breaths. Throw a warm washcloth over your brow with essential oil fragrance as an added soothing touch.
  • Hug. Hug a person. A pillow. A pet. Yourself. But hold the embrace for one minute or longer. Let your emotional weight fall to the floor.
  • Laugh. Turn on your favorite show, movie, or video clip and laugh. Out loud. Repeatedly.
  • Read. Grab a book, any book, and immerse yourself into in a new world, subject, or idea. Go to your local library or download free books to your mobile device.
  • Pray. No matter who or what you pray to, open yourself up to express your gratitude, fears, wishes, dreams, and ask for guidance. Listen to what you hear in your heart.
  • Love. Remember to love yourself. Love your faults. Love your failures. Love you one hundred percent as you are. Good things will happen.

Published by Kelly W

I'm Kelly. I am a mom of four, a full-time librarian with a fashionista alter-ego, and I live each day with kindness in my heart. I love what I do, and I'm here to share words, wisdom, and wardrobe with you.

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