Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Are You So Positive All of the Time?

I had a great question asked to me by a momma over on CysticLife, but asked her if I could write a blog about it since I knew my answer would be a long one. What's funny is that I actually get this question asked to me quite often. Sometimes it doesn't start with a "how" but rather a "why"(in sort of a disbelief type of a tone), which would of course have some different answers. I figure though that if one of my flaws continues to be that I'm "too positive" then I must be doing something right. Anyway, here's the question:

Ronnie, I am amazed at your attitude and I admit, a little curious. What's your secret? What drives you to be so positive? I feel that somehow maybe I failed my son. I set out 20 years ago when he was diagnosed to have him be the same way in life but he has struggled with anger more than I would like to admit. Myself too, as a result of watching him struggle. He's getting better though. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wow, what a great question. First, I think it's important to note that there is no “secret” that I have found to being a positive person. But before I even get into that I need to tell you something flat out: you have not failed your son! The only time we fail in this life is when we quit or we stop trying. Just the fact that you are reaching out and seeking the advice of others shows me that you have not quit, so believe me, you are not a failure. The problem with pinning our positive or negative attitude completely on our upbringing or on what our parents model to us obviously has some flaws. I can recall countless positive friends who had some of the most negative and pessimistic parents around as well as pessimistic friends who had some of the most happy parents in the world. Now, that's not to say that a positive role model and good modeling doesn't often put us at an advantage to carry on that attitude, but it certainly isn't the be-all end-all. However, since you did ask me for my take on it I can certainly try to pin down a few of the reasons that I'm so positive.

**For those of you about to read this again please remember that this is my experience and may or may not fit your experience.

1. My faith in God. This is a perfect example of the shoe not fitting everyone the same way. I've known plenty of Christians who were negative and rarely have a “glass is half full” mentality. For me however, being a Christ follower has translated my entire life into knowing that God was in full and complete control. And since He has already written out my story, I'm also convinced that having a negative attitude isn't going to change the ending or any part of the story in fact. When life feels overwhelming or a situation seems too much to bear its often introspection that shows me I'm trying to deal with it on my own. God makes it very clear that because of the relationship I have with Him, I'm not to feel alone with my burdens or bad situations. He calls on me to lean on Him in times of trouble and the great part is, He is never busy. I try to wake up each and every day and fulfill whatever Will He has for my life. I'm sure I've failed more than succeeded but I have faith that God will never leave my side and He'll give me peace that surpasses all understanding each and every time I ask for it.

2. None of my problems have ever been solved through anger or a bad attitude. I've always told people that I'll start complaining the second that somebody shows me concrete evidence that it will change my situation. It doesn't matter how much I complain, CF isn't going anywhere. I can complain until I'm blue in the face, yet I'll still have to do 2 to 3 hours of treatments tomorrow. I can shake my fist at God for having to go into the hospital nearly 3 months out of every year, but when the time comes for a tuneup, I'll be heading right back into the Hole. Instead of identifying all that is “wrong” in my life I choose to instead highlight everything that is right. I have a beautiful wife both inside and out. I have a family that will support me through thick and thin. So far I've woken up for 11,480 days and been able to breathe and put two feet on the ground. I'm part of a community that has shown incredible love and interest in my life. I've been able to travel. I received a good education. The point is, I have stuff in my life that other people around the world will never have access to. I've been blessed beyond measure to actually live in a country that has top-notch CF care. I don't complain that I have to do treatments, I thank God that I'm able to get all of my meds and throw on a vest. I think often times it's just a matter of taking a step back and counting all the things in our life which is right.

3. My mom. My mom will be the first one to tell you that she's not the most positive person in the world. She won't always look at you and tell you how great things are. There is one thing however that she is, and that's a realist. Not a realist in the sense that I grew up hearing about all of the death and destruction that CF could cause, but a realist in the sense that there were things I could take ownership of and if I didn't, it fell on nobody else's shoulders but mine. If I complained about not feeling well my mom's response wouldn't be “that damn CF” it would be "how many treatments did you miss last week?". When I ended up having respiratory arrest during the halftime of a football game I was playing in my mom didn't say “you need to stop playing because CF can't be controlled”, she said “what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?”. Here's the deal, she recognized that there are things that will simply be out of our control, but she didn't dwell on them. She never made the case that if I did XYZ I would be free from all of the manifestations of CF. She did however encourage me to make sure I was doing everything possible to put myself in the best position to succeed. I think the best way to illustrate how she raised me would be through this picture: complaining about CF and refusing to do treatments is like complaining about an overflowing bathtub and not turning off the water. Does that make sense?

So I could probably go on and on about the subject, but this seems like a pretty natural place to end this blog. Ending it here also gives me a chance to come up with some more bullet points. Hopefully I did a decent job explaining some of the reasons that I may tend to be more positive than negative and I invite anybody reading this to share any reasons they feel that they have a positive attitude.