Start the day on a positive note
For many years, along with our kid’s artwork and photos of our nieces and nephews, my wife had a quote from Abraham Lincoln posted on the kitchen refrigerator:
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
I didn’t pay much attention to it until I started thinking about the burdens and unbelievable stress our 16th president was under. Sure, he won the 1860 election that put him in the White House, but, before that, he endured the death of his mother when he was only 9 years old, fought in the Black Hawk War, lost his 3-year-old son, Eddie, to tuberculosis, and failed in business. During his presidency, another son, 13-year-old Willie, died of typhoid fever. His wife, Mary Todd, suffered from mental illness, which culminated in many bouts of hysteria. On top of all of that, 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War that raged throughout his term as President. I’ve often wondered how anyone under those circumstances could even talk about happiness.
And today, between contentious politics, extreme weather and the challenges of farm economics, some of us wonder if there are happy days ahead. Most assuredly there will be!
The path to prosperity and happiness is not like a light switch that turns on or off with an immediate result. Many little things have to occur along the way, starting with, as Lincoln said, making up our minds that we want to be happy. In a word – attitude. But that doesn’t come easily or immediately either. Achieving that positive attitude is really the culmination of a series of experiences.
Starting the day with a positive thought or experience helps a lot. In my farming days, I recall going out to the barn on a number of frigid mornings to discover frozen drinking cups and flooded gutters. Now that had the opposite effect on my outlook for the day! Quite often, the frozen drinking cups were the first domino to fall on such days when the barn cleaner, silo unloader, tractor and manure spreader issues were sure to follow. Much better days indeed came, and today it all seems like a distant character-building experience that is fun to talk about. On the bright side, those experiences seemed to expand my vocabulary, much to the chagrin of my wife, Judy.
On those cold mornings, I probably should have left the house with a positive thought already planted in my brain. Later, while working as a Vita Plus dairy nutritionist and forage specialist, and with the advent of the Internet, I found a motivational website that started my day on the right foot. There are dozens of such sites, but one particular website appealed to me because the messages struck home and were not blatantly commercial. The Daily Motivator is a blog by Ralph Marston with a few paragraphs and a fresh message each day that helps me set the stage for a good day. I also like going to the archive to catch up on missed messages. Other sites may be better, but this one suits me, and I encourage you to find one that suits your needs.
Finally, I’ll close with another quote from someone who endured and inspired:
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller