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Keeping A Positive Attitude During Difficult Times

I probably don’t need to say it, but it’s been a rough week for many of us here in Naples.

As a general rule, we live a very comfortable life here, and we tend to be frustrated by even small inconveniences (like traffic). I don’t remember the last time I had to spend an afternoon without air conditioning before Irma came to town (chances are I was not very gracious about it). But now it’s been almost two weeks without power for most of us. I still can’t work in my own office because we don’t have power, and I have to admit that it’s hard to not let myself get upset. Even those of us who have lived through several hurricanes are having a hard time working through this recovery.

More Than Discomfort

There is discomfort, and then there is real danger. While it would be nice to puff up my chest and be the “tough guy” who can “rough it” through the heat and lack of modern conveniences, the situation outside is actually dangerous. From the boil-water notice to the sewage overflow to the snakes in the streets, and 100-degree weather with no air conditioning, as Thomas Paine said, “these are the times that try men’s’ (and women’s) souls.”

With that as the backdrop, I’ve had a hard time coming up with a topic for this week’s “Wellness Wednesday.” Everything I would write just feels trite when my neighbors are struggling with basic life needs. I want to use this platform to educate and inform, but sometimes people need to be encouraged and uplifted.

What Debbie Told Her Kids About Difficulty

So I’d like to welcome my friend Debbie to the blog. Debbie is a home-schooling mom who had a terrific post on Facebook that I’d like to share with you. As she and her kids were preparing for Hurricane Irma, they took a look at a Bible passage about attitude, and it helped them to stay positive during difficult times. I think this is a message all of us could use right now.

“About a week before Hurricane Irma, I did a devotional with the girls on Colossians 3. We broke the versus down and defined each word and made this white board that has been up in our home to remind us of how we should be. I saw it again this morning and saw how fitting it is for what we are going through now. There are only two ways that we can act: we can either be in the flesh or we can be walking in God’s love. I encourage everyone to look at this and see which side we are on in dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Irma. Families need to have understanding and patience with each other, that everyone handles crisis differently. Employees and employers need to have compassion for each other. The businesses have lost money because they are closed, but the employees have lost as well… Personal property, food and even loss of income. We need to have compassion and understanding for our neighbors and fellow citizens of Collier County. We may all be at different stages of recovery but we are all in the same boat at this point. I encourage everyone to let God’s love and compassion prevail in your dealings with other people. Words and actions cannot be taken back so let’s be a reflection of God’s love. CHOOSE COMPASSION!!!

““But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips…

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Rise Up With A New Perspective

When you consider what could have happened – and what did happen to millions of people in the Caribbean – we came out pretty well. If you lost your home, I grieve with you and I hope your recovery is swift, but as long as you are breathing, you still have a chance to have a great life.

We all go through storms in life, and not all of them come from the ocean. I’ve been through marriage storms, parenting storms, business storms, and others. I’m sure you have storms of your own – many of them much more devastating than Irma – but these are the times when we can rise up and discover what we are made of. In fact, I think people are discovering just how positive and selfless they can be during these difficult times. Some are learning that their frustrations and inconveniences are less severe and end more quickly than if they had let themselves pout and complain.

I’m so excited about how people have risen to the challenge of caring for their neighbors in these difficult times. I remember Hurricanes like Andrew, Charlie, and Katrina, and how the destruction was exacerbated by weeks of fumbling and blame-shifting by government agencies that were supposed to be helping us. I think we all learned a lesson from those experiences – that it is up to us to care for each other. That the best way to rise up from disaster is hand-in-hand. That we each have resources to share with the people around us. In fact, I’ve found that we can ease our own suffering by easing the suffering of others.

At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, there is always someone who is worse off than me, and I always have something to share. That’s what keeps me going when I want to complain about my inconveniences.

Attitude and Wellness

How does keeping a positive attitude improve wellness? I could give you a technical answer about flooding your body with feel-good neurotransmitters like oxytocin and other endorphins, but I think we all understand in our hearts that feeling good is good for you. King Solomon said that “a joyful heart does good like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

I was visiting with a 95-year-old woman recently, and when I asked about her longevity, she said that she has always made a habit of laughing every chance she gets. Then she leaned in and shared with me that her younger sister “never laughed about anything and now she has Alzheimer’s [Disease].” That’s tragic (and maybe a little over-simplified), but living an unhealthy life with a bad attitude is largely avoidable. Attitude really is everything.

I should probably take this opportunity to say that I have nothing but admiration for the amazing FPL crews who have worked relentlessly for over a week already to get the power back on across our massive area. That’s difficult work made all the more difficult by impossible hours, punishing heat, and the pressure to get a million people back on line. In the meantime, we’ve made other arrangements for seeing patients, and we will do our best to help you keep a smile on your face, as we are keeping a smile on our own faces.

Blessings, peace, and safety to you as you recover from the storms in your life – with a great attitude.

“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas

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