Maya Angelou said, “I sustain myself with the love of family.”
What keeps you going when times are tough? I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, wondering about myself and wondering what works for others. So I asked the question on Facebook and Twitter,
It turned out that family is THE most common answer, along with a healthy mindset. A friend on Facebook brought them both together beautifully:
My children. They never cease to bring me joy. Additionally, even when I am feeling really down, or things are very stressful, I want to be a positive example for them so I purposefully intend to be happy, optimistic, forward-thinking. (Even when I don’t feel like it!)
The feeling on Twitter was the same.
— Melissa Cox (@litsassy1) September 18, 2013
What is it about family that makes many of us optimistic? Again, I asked my social media friends.
— Christine Caston (@CastonChris) September 20, 2013
A few people on Facebook brought up that not ALL families are healthy places, which is definitely true. Not all families help us through tough times. Some families PUT us through tough times.
Science Fiction author, Jim Butcher said,
When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.
I like this because he’s turning it around. Family aren’t the people who love and support you with unconditional acceptance. People who love and support you with unconditional acceptance are family. Family are the people who stand by you, whether its a functional nuclear family, a close group of friends or a community. Your family, whatever it looks like and wherever you find it, offers unconditional love, or as near to it as we get, acceptance and belonging. We know that these are people who stay with us even through the worst times.
I can relate. When I have tough days, coming home to family is like letting the air out of tension. Its the place of belonging and ease (not always of course, but often)
Recently I found a handmade card my 10 year old daughter gave me. It was SO beautiful and so incredibly thoughtful, straight from her heart. My whole mood changed. It was my reason for optimism in that moment. The light within her touched the light within me.
Spending time with people who accept and love us, builds confidence. It reminds us that we are worthy of love and hope. It breeds an optimistic perspective.
True optimism is about perspective and is not dependent on circumstances. It might even fly in the face of circumstantial evidence.Its not about looking for some light at the end of a long tunnel. Optimism is the light at the beginning, middle and end of the tunnel, because no matter how dark it gets, there is an inner light that flickers with a reminder of your ability to choose how you respond in each moment.
When you stare at light, you still see it when you look away. It’s the same when you focus on the inner light of perspective. It colors everything you see with optimism. The role of family is to point each other back to that light within. Then you will find reasons for optimism anyway, anywhere, anyhow.