When life gives you lemons

Do you crack open the G&T or get a bitter taste in your mouth?

Probably one of the first mindset questions I can remember being asked is ‘is the glass half full or half empty?’ It seems that we have an idea that we’re either in the ‘always look for the positive’ group or the ‘doom and gloom’ category.

Whatever life throws at us there will always be winners and losers. I bet that the supermarkets can’t believe their sales figures this lockdown summer. I went into a famous wine store at the weekend and they said it has been their busiest year ever. While some people are devastated at losing their jobs and being furloughed others are loving at the opportunity to spend more time at home.

How can we increase our chances of being able to see the bright side of a situation?

Here are 3 tips for finding the good even in the bad.

What have you learned?

It’s a strange truth that we seem to have far more opportunity to learn from difficult situations than we ever do when things are going well. What have you learned this summer? Maybe you have enrolled in an online learning programme and even earned a qualification. Maybe you have learned that it is possible to keep in touch with your family and have a bit of fun over Zoom. Maybe you have discovered that you enjoy having more quiet time to yourself.

If you think you haven’t learned anything then I suggest you take some time to really think about it. What has been easier for you in lockdown? What’s been tough? How did you think you would cope at the beginning? How right or wrong were you?

It may not have been a great year for travelling, schooling, eating out or socialising and yet what have you taken from this experience that you never imagined you would get?

Make it a game?

In the corporate world we have long since swapped the negative, moany word ‘problem’ for the more positive, let’s get this sorted word ‘challenge’. Maybe it’s time to change again and make it a ‘game’.

The gamification of learning and problem solving is what is driving computer-based learning and we can use it in the real world too.

How can you make a game out of it? It’s the same technique that Mary Poppins used to get the kids to tidy up. It’s just about finding the fun in any task. How many meals can we make using up the contents of the dried pasta and tinned food cupboards? How can we make rainbow picture to thank the NHS when we don’t have any colouring pens? What can we learn about our colleagues by looking at what’s going on in the background when we Zoom!

I’m not for one minute trying to make light of the reality that is relying on food banks for meals and not being able to see loved ones. I just think that if we can sometimes pretend it’s a game, life can feel a little lighter.

What problem can you turn into a challenge? What challenge can you turn into a game?

Control the controllables.

Finally, an old favourite of mine. Learn to sort the things that bother you into one of three categories.

Can I control it? Can I influence it? Is it totally uncontrollable?

Control

The main thing you can control is you. Everything you do, and everything you say. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be angry. You may not be able to control the event, but you can control your response to it. Take a minute, breathe, and choose how you will react.

Influence

Our ability to influence is growing all the time. Social media has made it easy to ‘find your tribe’ and take on issues that would have looked outside of our control not long ago.

Uncontrollable

This is the category which can create a lot of debate as it could be argued that with enough drive you can influence anything. For example, local lockdown, is it out of our control? Maybe, but can we influence our leaders to hear our point of view? Yes, of course. So, I am not going to get myself into a tricky situation here by suggesting what you think you can or can’t influence!

So, here is the trick.

You decide what category the thing that is bothering you fits into.

If you can control it, then stop complaining about it, control it.

If you can influence it, then stop complaining about it and do something about it.

If you can’t control it, then stop complaining about it and spend your energy on controlling and influencing the things you can.

By focusing on the learning, making challenges a game, and putting your energy into things that you can control and want to influence, you will, more often not, live a glass half full life.

And if you’re making a G&T mine’s a large one!

Words by:

Jacqui Flavell

www.2ndcupoftea.co.uk

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