My life is awesome. I am blessed beyond comprehension.
But much of my situation is a product on focusing on the positive.

My grandpa was the one who showed me how significant your focus can be. By always finding things to have gratitude about, he was always happy.

This is not easy. And it takes practice.

I’ve found that blogging/tweeting/life streaming has been a wonderful tool for adjusting my focus. It is, quite literally, an exercise in seeing yourself as your life’s protagonist. If you are narrating your life story, you must choose which details to include. Focus is the core skill of story telling. When you relay the activities of your day, do you focus on the scenery? The mental processes? The interactions? The mundane details? The hopeful signs? The painful fears?

When I visited my grandpa in the hospital, he never complained. He may have shared information about his body’s state, but with fascinated detachment. Then he would always sing the praises of the doctors and modern medicine.
This has been my training model and the inspiration for “Crap or Cone.” (“Crap or Cone” is a little mental trick I use to refocus on the metaphorical ice cream cone available in the present moment, and not the “dog crap” circumstances. Both are always present.)

A couple years ago, I often purged negative thoughts through writing. I then shared them online and found comfort and reassurance from online readers. But I found myself bonding with people over suffering. And every well-meaning response would pull me back to the negative mental space I was in when I original wrote. Even when the original negativity had passed, through dialogue I would be pulled back to the negative topic.

I made a conscious effort to not post as much about petty annoyances. It was hard at first. I had grown accustomed to the soothing responses to my complaints. But I learned to sit with the frustration and let it pass on my own.

This has allowed me to spend far more time and energy in a positive headspace. And publically, it may even appear as if I never have problems. Heh.

While I try not to wallow about them in my public updates, I have challenges like everyone.
For example, I am dealing with a ridiculous number of skin-based health ailments right now.
1. ears re-injured while stretching from 4 gauge to 2. (daily salt soaks)
2. nipples re-injured during waterfall sexual antics – and infected from gross water (daily salt soaks)
3. cut my neck while clipping my beard. (septic pencil to stop bleeding)
4. sunburned my neck and back. (aloe)
5. athletes foot -almost gone- (ointment)
6. hemorrhoids – sporadic flareup (prep H)
7. broken toenail/bruising from stubbed toe. (antibiotic cream)
8. cut finger from weekend crafting. (band-aid)
9. everyday acne & dandruff (OTC cleanser & prescription shampoo)

Now, if you spent the day with me, I’m sure you would hear about some of these. (I’d probably even force you to check out the bloody discharge currently oozing from my right nipple.) And I have the instinct to post whiny updates, as well. But I try to let those feelings pass without committing them to public permanence.

If I can let the momentary complaint pass by without clinging on to it, then I can either move past the issue, or re-frame it more positively. There are a million things going right at every moment. In fact, EVERYTHING on that list could be a part of a positive story of healing. I.e. “My white blood cells are fighting infection as I type this…even while I sleep! I’ll be fixed up in no time!” That is just another way of saying, “My poor nipple is oozing. 🙁 ”

It is not the circumstances of your life, but your perspective of them. And in this modern word of twitter, Facebook, and ever-present life narration, the perspective you share with the world can be just as critical, too.

Now, who wants to see my miraculously healing nipple?
-John
July 26, 2010

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