Positively Brilliant

I’d never heard a more miserable, pitiful statement in my life, and I haven’t heard a more miserable, pitiful one since.

It came in an upper-level English literature course of some sort, when the group was chewing through a work by Dickens or some other dead Englishman. This woman raised her hand, then said, “When I wake up every morning, I tell myself, ‘This is going to be the worst day of my life.’ That way, I’m never disappointed.”

GoodDayNever disappointed. I guess that’s one way to define positive, but I knew it wasn’t for me.

I heard my father’s voice, instead. He used to say, over and over and over and over…ad infinitum, “Think positive.” He said it about everything, in dozens of situations, in the face of a hundred hardships or challenges. When I was 15, I thought if I had to hear that phrase one more time, I was going to do something violent. Or at least hurl. I heard it one more time, anyway. In fact, I probably heard it one thousand more times.

There was a good reason he said it so often. Like so many teenagers, I invariably missed every silver lining because I was too busy looking at the cloud. I took it further, too, always seeking ways to make the cloud darker than it really was. And – to use Dad’s word – bellyaching about it at the top of my lungs. It was like my brain reflexively cued up its best Darth Vader in every situation – “Luke, come to the Dark Side.”

Years have passed, Dad is gone and last I heard the woman with the less-than-optimistic daily outlook is living a pretty good life. I only read what I want to these days (the list still includes Dickens, though). And I constantly strive to abhor the dark side and choose instead the light. I finally got it.

Turns out there are good reasons for getting it, too. Not only is being positive a much more pleasant way to live, but it’s good for you, too. According to, like, a million reputable sources, there are tangible health benefits to looking on the bright side:

  • Longer life
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

* Source:  Mayo Clinic, “Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk”

Sign me up, right?

Sure, I have bad days. Everyone does, and always will. But for the day-to-day, little reminders help.

Like the picture above. It’s of a page that my daughter tore from a calendar and taped to her bedroom door. I took her cue and made it the new home screen for my iPhone.

And like making myself hear Dad’s voice – over and over again, if necessary – “Think positive.”

It works. So say it with me –

It’s going to be a really good day.

Martin C. Fredricks IV logo

Author: Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, proud Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger and big-time reader. (If you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff.) A ginger, too (ergo the "Red"). At age 50 I'm a newbie to tattoos - I have three now - but the kind artists at the parlor tell me it's never too late. I like hanging out with my best friend, who also happens to be my wife, watching the kids in their academic and athletic activities, writing, hiking and riding my mountain bike.

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