For our first week’s assignment, we were supposed to create a Positive Portfolio--an array of objects, photos, or little life snippets that we thought of in a positive light, or that brought us joy. I kind of poo-poohed the assignment thinking that I had enough positive things in my life that I didn’t really need to do the assignment. Why bother?
Then I got really homesick. I mean really, really homesick.
For some reason, random events came together and I ended up having several days of the blues. I was feeling so homesick that I was literally counting the days until we would move back. One night I broke down into tears just thinking about the fact that we were going to put Anouk in day care part-time. I was a bit pathetic, actually.
Martha Beck calls this the “Death and Rebirth” stage in her change matrix. You realize that your old life is gone, but you have yet to establish a new life, so you are stuck in in this vacant space. You yearn for what was in the past, even though you know you can’t really have it back. That was me 100%
And then I thought back to my positive psych class, and the assignment that I didn’t do. I knew that I needed a pick me up, and I needed one fast, so I sat down at the computer and created my Positive Portfolio. Okay, so it’s not really a portfolio of any kind, but more of a list of things that I feel positive about living in France.
Here are just a few:
- the adventure of it
- doing something that I always said I wanted to do (live abroad)
- learning a new language and culture
- bringing up Anouk truly bi-cultural and bilingual
- fresh French bread
- walks in the woods just 3 minutes down the road
- and more...
This seems like such a trivial thing to do, this small list, but it helped bring me out of my funk. It made me realize that, yes, I do miss a lot of things from back home, but that there are so many things to look forward to each day.
One of the key points in the positive pysch class is that we tend to have way more positive experiences in a given day than negative ones, but that the negative ones can overshadow the positive. If we take a moment, or two, to consciously shift our mindest from the negative moments to the positive, it can really shift our day.
Since my days of the blues, things have been looking up. Instead of thinking about the fact that I don’t really have any friends, I am thinking about how this is a great opportunity to meet new friends. Instead of thinking about how hard it is to learn a new language, I am playing a game with it, and going out of my way to have conversations in French everyday. Who cares how many mistakes I make, really?
If you are curious about how positive you are, the professor of my Positive Pysch class created a short questionnaire which will quantify your Positivity Ratio. You can find it at the website, www.positivityratio.com. I would advise you (as would she) to take it several times over the course of a week or two, since we all have bad days once in a while.
So if you notice something pulling you down, try to flip it on it’s head and focus on the positive, or create a positive portfolio, like I did. You can also create a positive journal, or a gratitude journal where at the end of each day you write down a list of positive moments or things you are grateful for. And the best part is that your positivity will spread, making your whole world a little brighter.