4 Ways to Stay Positive When Things Go Bad

  • Someday Lesson: We may not always be able to choose our circumstances but we can always choose our reactions.

mimentza on flickr.comHere in Spain, unemployment has reached an all-time high, with over 4 million people on unemployment and something like 9,000 new people let go from their jobs every day.

Back in March my part-time job had to cut out my English as a Second Language class because the government severely cut back on funding to adult education. Then yesterday was my partner’s last day at his job and he is now on the unemployment line.

We don’t worry that much. I have other income sources and Spain’s unemployment benefits totally rock, plus we keep our cost of living ultra low. There’s just one thing that sucks: the lack of choice. While my partner will be happier and healthier away from a toxic (physically and psychologically) work place and I’ve started working much harder both with my writing and with Someday Syndrome, neither of us chose to end our jobs.

I always say that life is choice but occasionally that choice is limited to how we react to something. We could have panicked; I could have thrown myself at whatever English job I could find in the city and my partner could have taken whatever job, no matter how bad, just to have the security of a paycheque.

But we didn’t.

Instead we both decided to pursue our dreams. In my case, I recommitted to my twin dreams of writing and Someday-busting. My partner has decided to take his occasional work as a wedding DJ to a professional level, turning it into a full-time business.

Before that, however, he’s going to ignore the bad economy and do something he hasn’t done in over ten years. He’s going to take the summer off, to lie on the beach and recover his sense of calm.

Here are some tips for staying positive in the face of sudden changes in circumstances:

  1. The idea of a silver lining isn’t just an optimist’s silliness – you can always find something good about a situation, no matter how small.
  2. Unless you live inside a soap opera, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is out to get you – drop the ego and the wounded pride because they just lead to a negative spiral of resentment and anger.
  3. Remember the advice in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC – panicking only creates irrational thoughts and actions
  4. Distract yourself with something new and fun – to “celebrate” his last day, my partner bought varnish stripper and stain to redo all the doors in the apartment.

How do you react to sudden changes in circumstances? Any tips you’d like to share?

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20 thoughts on “4 Ways to Stay Positive When Things Go Bad

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Yay to both of you for pursuing your dreams! How exciting.

    I’m definitely not one to give advice in this area – I’m a total worrier and panic-er. Trying to improve though.

  2. Live for change! Then an unexpected change like this becomes an exciting opportunity. And always have that next plan in your backpocket – what would I do if I lost my job today? Then there is no need to miss a beat – just enjoy the change and move right along.

    Yes, easier said than done I know, but worth working towards.

    Love your work, looking forward to following it more.

    David Hutchison´s last blog post..Cesare Maniago Interview

  3. YAY! Positivity! You know I love that! 🙂 These are AMAZING tips and I particularly like #1. As cheesy as it might sound, there is always a silver lining in every situation. And, though others might disagree with this, everything happens for a reason.

    One piece of advice I would offer is to remember that attitude is everything. You could be in the absolute worst situation in the world and be happy. Likewise, you could be in the best situation in the world and be miserable. (Think of all of the celebrities with fame, fortune, power, good looks who end up trying to kill themselves…) Happiness is a mindset. You can be positive anywhere, at any time. It is completely up to YOU! 🙂

    Keep up the positive thinking! I love it!

    Positively Present´s last blog post..love your sibling, love yourself

  4. […] Great post by Alex over at SomedaySyndrome about staying positive. […]

  5. @Andy, have you read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”? But then again, I have and I still worry.

    When I get into a rut and can’t motivate myself — I do something fun like play a PC game (I review them, so that helps).

  6. sammi says:

    Even if we do go down the track of panic and worry the outcome is the same,best to put that effort into being positive. I have had amazing results with EFT, tapping on your meridian points to clear energy, sounds crazy, but look it up.. emofree.com has a great website, the authentic practioners offer free information, with the essential hope of just getting the information out there, peace and a nuclear free future!

  7. Andy Hayes says:

    Thanks Meryl, I’ll check it out!

  8. Friar says:

    “….you can always find something good about a situation, no matter how small.”

    So, when I’m sitting on the toilet with the stomach flu, and it’s coming out both ends, I should, like…try to be positive.

    Oh well. Look at the bright side. This will help me drop a few extra pounds.

    Yeah…sure. That’s what I’ll do next time. 😉

  9. Where we choose to put our focus will determine what we get out of life. You chose to make the loss of work a chance to fulfill your dreams. That’s how great people succeed. They still see the chances that are out there and make it happen.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog post..28 Lessons on Working Happy From My Icelandic Mother

  10. Patricia says:

    I watched my mother worry and worry over so many things. I decided early on to skip that stuff and just figure out what was my best and then work at doing my best.
    This month we are not taking a pay check. I bless having 6 months income in the savings account. We are still keeping 9 of the 13 employees with good work to do…..the best projects will come along again. I think it helps to have gone through several recessions in my lifetime and my parents having been through the depression.
    We planted more lettuce and peas today and the blackberries are still free by the side of the road in late summer….and the bloom on those apple trees is beautiful.
    Come on Friar….get off the toilet and get out and fish…teach a man to fish….
    good for you….just keep working on and figure it out…and just look at those benefits….why not?

    Patricia´s last blog post..anniversary

  11. Alex Fayle says:

    @Andy
    I still worry – pretty much constantly, but I get on with things anyway.

    @David
    Glad you enjoy the blog! I too have about 10 possible plans in my head at any one time in case things don’t go as I expect.

    @Positively Present
    Attitude – exactly! Happiness can’t really be measured (despite all the studies out there) so if we decide we’re happy, then we’re happy, no matter what happens.

    @Meryl
    I too take breaks when I’m feeling low. My thing is TV shows. They allow me to turn my brain off completely and they are limited in terms of time, so I give myself an episode or two of something then it’s back to work – I always feel much better for doing so, like I’ve allowed myself a luxury.

    @Sammi
    I like that: the outcome is the same so why put ourselves through hell? Great way of thinking about it and thanks for the website.

    @Friar
    When I have the stomach flu, my thoughts run along the lines of: “Wow, when this is over, I’m really going to appreciate feeling good.” So yeah in the moment it totally sucks, but I get through it be focusing on the anticipation of feeling better and being conscious about feeling good.

    @Karl
    And by having a positive attitude I’m able to see the opportunities instead of seeing only the blackness of loss. Thanks for adding this point – it’s an important one!

    @Patricia
    Hugs on the lack of paycheque, but you are a perfect example of a good attitude in the face of suckiness – good for you!

  12. I totally get the HHG’s DON’T PANIC. I kept repeating that mantra all last week.
    http://www.armywife.ca

    I also have a bazillion back-up plans in my head in case things don’t work out as expected.

  13. […] make tons of money/I’ll lose weight/I’ll be happy” mindrut. This post is about staying positive when things go bad (say, maybe, the economy’s in the toilet and you’re not converting enough potential […]

  14. Karen Swim says:

    Good on you Alex! Your opening line is one of my personal mantras. Let’s face it, life sometimes throws us lemons, we don’t get to control but we can control how we react. Fear, dread,and panic are useless. The negative emotions suck you dry and when it’s over the situation is still there. I think it’s great to keep in mind that nothing is permanent, this too shall pass, the tough stuff can be a time of enlightenment and empowerment if we allow ourselves to see the good. Taking time to regain a sense of self sounds WONDERFUL.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Vision or Lie?

  15. Alex Fayle says:

    @Jacki
    I always have backup plans and plans to backup the backup plans if those fail too. Since I love planning so much, when things don’t work out I almost get excited because it gives me a chance to plan!

    @Karen
    I always give the negative emotions a little bit airtime or they get all Lisa and Bart Simpson begging Homer for a pool on me. 😉

  16. […] by nearly 2 percent in the first quarter of 2009, unemployment has reached 17 percent. Blogger Alex in Spain describes his experience: Here in Spain, unemployment has reached an all-time high. Back […]

  17. Physki says:

    Hey jus needed to hear some positive words to help me through this rotten phase i am going through right now!
    Reading the comments helped

  18. Fran says:

    Great ideas Alex. I have also used a technique of thinking of three good things that had happened to me that day. I found this made me appreciate what a great life I have, even if some days it was hard to think of three things.

  19. […] wrote about this in a post about staying positive. Unless you live inside a soap opera, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is out to get you – drop […]

  20. Sasha says:

    Right on point…how you react to issues/problems is the key to living a healthy/happy life (Of course by reacting positively). Like my best friend once told me when I moved to a new place. “Yea it sucks, but you have two choices: 1. you could complain and be miserable or 2) make the best out of it.

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