“The fault finder will find faults even in paradise.” – Henry David Thoreau
Ever since I’ve started my morning “happiness routine,” amazing things have been popping up in my day. For example, you won’t believe the luck I had just last night.
The Chipotle near my house had to close early due to not having enough supplies (or due to salmonella, who knows really?)
I was the last person to get through the door; they locked it behind me. Then, there was just enough chicken left to accommodate my double-chicken bowl. And if that’s not amazing enough, when I got to the end of the line, the girl at the register said not to worry about it, it’s free.
I mean, c’mon. If that’s not magical, then I’m not sure what is.
Recently, these nice little surprises have been happening all of the time. I recently found a $100 bill on the ground, got hooked up with a generous gift to stay in Chicago for an extra few days, my boy Sean set up a sweet community hammock in our backyard, and Drake dropped VIEWS. I mean c’mon now…
Now, does this mean that ever since I began starting my day with writing down three things I’m grateful for that I’ve somehow been blessed by the Chipotle Gods?
Of course not.
These dudes Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris are psychologists that ran one of the oddest experiments I’ve ever come across that explains this Chipotle magic.
They had a group of kids passing basketballs. The instructions were to watch, and count, how many times the kids wearing white t-shirts passed the basketball.
Most people do a great job of counting the passes, but they miss the guy dressed in the giant gorilla suit walk through, pound his chest, and then walk off like nothing happened. Half the people in the experiment didn’t see the gorilla at all.
What does this mean for us? What we focus on, we see.
For me, because I have to write down three different things I’m appreciative for everyday, my mind is constantly focused on cool things and good vibes. My attention is on the lookout for all of the good things in life rather than the infinite amount of crap to complain about.
After a while, our brains can actually begin to rewire themselves. Rather than thought patterns of complaining, whining, and blaming, our brain program to notice and appreciate more cool shit like Free99 Chipotle, or finding a quarter on the ground.
That’s the power of positive thinking. It’s not being thankful for things that aren’t there as much as noticing the things that are. Trust me, I’m not going around my 700 square foot underground cave of a home screaming “I’m rich!” and I’m not doing visualizations of Lambos and gold chains.
But I am walking around noticing how happy I am that Kels and I have a lot of fun living together. I’m happy I am young enough to still pound bacon and not get fat af. And I’m certainly rich enough to get a coffee at Starbucks a few times a week.
Positivity is a huge theme in my life, and I feel like it gets a bad rap sometimes because a lot of people think it means being happy all the time. That’s not it at all. It’s not about magic visualization or meditating on a life supply of popcorn dropping in my living room.
Positivity doesn’t mean ignoring emotions like anger or sadness. If your dog dies, it’s okay to shed a tear. If you get punched in the face, smiling and telling the guy “nice swing” isn’t positivity, it’s psychosis.
It’s not about being happy when things are bad. It’s about noticing the good shit in life on a daily basis and dealing with the hard stuff the best you possibly can.
Research shows that merely expecting to be successful can make us more likely to actually become successful. So there is power in gratitude, belief in a better future, and positivity, but it’s not magic, and it’s not easy.
Rewiring your brain takes practice, continuous effort, and hanging with a group of people who make it easy. If you’re constantly cool aidin’ with haters, complainers, and non-bathers then it is much more difficult to change your habits.
The difference between a person with a positive mindset, and the positivity crazies from the self-help world, is that positive people are choosing between two equally true realities.
The crazies’ get fired from their jobs, and push out a forced smile to delude themselves and others that the future is bright.
The positive person gets fired, rides the emotions of sadness or anger, and choses to be grateful that they live in a country with so many opportunities, and though the immediate future will be tough, they have the belief their life is in their hands, and they are perfectly capable of hustling to get back on their feet.
Kels and I recently decided to leave Salt Lake City on a whim. Neither of us have anything lined up elsewhere, I have little savings (she’s much better with her moola than me), but we felt the need to explore and travel a little bit.
In all honesty, I’m scared shitless. I’m comfortable in SLC. It’s cheap, beautiful, and I have friends here.
My positive mindset doesn’t go to a place that everything is going to work out beautifully. It goes to a place in which we could fall flat on our faces, but I truly believe we have the skills, people in our lives, and creativity to get back on our feet.
So as you get ready for Monday and the week of work or school, focus on life’s fun and opportunities, while facing the challenges and hard stuff with effort, balls, and belief in yourself that you have the skills to figure some shit out.