In a conversation the other day, a close friend said to me that I was a very lucky person because things always work out well and nothing bad has ever happened to me. The implication was that I have led a pretty charmed life. To be honest my instinctive reaction was to agree with them. But as I got to thinking about it, I realised that my life has probably not been that much different from anybody else’s, I’ve had the same ups and downs as the next person. The key difference is in how I view the things that happen to me.
Fundamentally I’m an optimist. I’m not a fatalist – I don’t believe things happen for a pre-ordained reason - but I do believe we can use our negative experiences to gain some good out of them. Earlier in the year my branch at work was closed down. I didn’t dwell on the prospect of potential redundancy, instead I looked for the opportunity in the situation and used the extra time and energy to write my first novel. I got something good out of a hard situation.
I believe we have the choice to view our lives in a positive or a negative light. If you choose to be a victim you will become a victim.
Take 2004 for example, I was thoroughly miserable in a job I hated so I applied for another job and got out. I could have viewed that situation in two very different ways. I could have said it was a miserable experience because I hated the job so much. OR I could say it was a happy experience because I managed to find another job and leave behind the miserable job. I chose not to become a victim of my circumstances. My friend said I was lucky because the new job came along at the right time. But it wasn’t just about luck, I wouldn’t have got that new job if I hadn’t kept slogging through the job applications or if I’d let the doctor sign me off on the sick. I had the optimism to believe that the situation could be turned around and I had the will to put in the effort to do it.
That sounds like I’m saying that we make our own luck. But I’m not. Really awful things do happen to people through no fault of their own. And when bad things happen we’ve just got to get on with it and hope the tide turns for the better. But more often than not there really is a silver lining to the cloud. That relationship that breaks up? Maybe you would have ended up making each other unhappy. That job you didn’t get? Maybe it would have caused you a lot of stress in the long run… Sometimes what seems bad at the time can actually turn out to be for the best. I try to hold on to that thought when times get tough.
And I do believe in applying a good healthy dose of perspective. I annoy a lot of people with my “It could be worse,” attitude. But you know what, it usually could be… As my husband said to me very recently when I was having a moan about our depleted finances; “At least you don’t have to walk four miles a day to fetch clean water….” We take a lot of what we have in the modern western world for granted. Sometimes that bit of perspective is all you need to realise just how good we do have it.
Having a positive attitude is what being a witch is all about. We believe we can change things through the way we work and we take control of our lives. When I go through hard times, I don’t hit the gin bottle (well just a little bit..) I think of what magical workings I can do to improve things and I take practical steps alongside the magic to make the situation better.
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