My Story: Why I Need Positivity

Updated 2/28/16, One Year Later

Once upon a time, I was a prolific fiction author who practiced Feng Shui,  embraced concern for the environment, attempted to eat a healthy diet, and loved every moment of homeschooling my youngest child. Gratitude framed my enjoyment of life, and I was known to speak of such things as "seeing the glass half full" and "living in the solution, not the problem".

But I had a secret.

This secret was something Nobody Knew, a thing so awful that once I suspected it, I was determined to hide it to protect those I cared about. One year ago, I finally woke up to the truth about what Nobody Knew. The only person I'd really succeeded in hiding it from had been myself. That secret was that I was suffering from depression.

The admission was hardly unique, but making that disclosure to myself, let alone publicizing it on the Internet, was one of the hardest and most frightening things I'd ever done. After all, what right did I have to admit I felt less than ecstatic for what life granted me? I was blessed with beautiful children and grandchildren, a job, a roof over my head, and food on the table. I have faced adversity and survived. Yet the elusive concept of *happiness* had, without warning and at the most inconvenient of times, disconnected itself from my consciousness. What was worse, I feared if I admitted it, even to myself, that I would never find my happiness again.

Misery loves company, so I fed my bleak outlook with a steady stream of bad news stories via the Internet and heated debates on Facebook. At night I would lie awake, stressed out over events of the day and fearing What Might Happen tomorrow. I stopped activities I previously enjoyed. I could no longer write, failing to complete the final book in a series readers were asking for. That writer's block lasted for eighteen months.

I tried things to help, but nothing magically snapped me out of my negative mentality. I heaped guilt on myself for failing at happiness, because I felt I owed myself and my family a better me. I needed something more.

Enter Experimental Positivity.

As the title suggests, this blog was an experiment, pure and simple. It was an attempt to use what I called "positive immersion therapy" as a sort of long-term CPR. I hoped it would jolt me out of negative thinking. As a believer in the adage, "Your focus determines your reality", I set out to challenge myself to focus on one act of positivity each and every day for a full year.

What happened? I found that, over time, my moods began to change. I looked for the good in situations, even negative ones. I eagerly planned challenges for myself and shared the results with others (most days). Joy returned, and I started writing again. When the year concluded, I looked back over the journey and realized I was no longer the depressed, stressed-out wreck I had been 365 days earlier. The happiness I thought was gone for good had returned.

For that first year, my focus was on finding positivity hidden inside myself, even in its tiniest measure. Now, in Year 2, my focus is to let positivity shine out onto those around me. This challenge might not be a magic cure, but it has been the biggest influence in altering my mindset, and it is my fondest hope that this blog might inspire others who are looking for ways to manifest positivity in their own lives.

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