Take charge of the ‘fleas’ in your life

For years, I’ve been advertising my column in “Editor and Publisher,” and other journalism publications, as “an upbeat senior column” and a “Lively look at the senior years. Motivational and Empowering.”
But last weekend, I felt neither upbeat nor empowered. Or even motivated. I felt terribly depressed–a rare state for me.
Luckily for me, I come from an optimistic family. Both my father’s and mother’s extended families are optimistic and fun-loving, even through the hard times.
But last weekend was different. It all began Saturday morning, and my depression grew as the day progressed.
Early in the morning, I watched The Weather Channel to check the local forecast. But just before the local, they had a short clip of the Arizona wildfire—a fire so intense that here in Kansas we have had red-red sunsets because of the smoke-filled atmosphere.
They showed night pictures of the raging inferno and day pictures of the blackened forest. Two weeks of destroying the environment and still uncontrolled!
After that, it was the economy–grocery prices are rising and Social Security seems at risk. One sad thought led to another, and the low barometric pressure preceding our severe thunderstorms probably didn’t help.
Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel like writing an upbeat column. But I had to!
Then I thought of a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time–“Forget the Elephants, Watch Out for the Fleas” by motivational speaker Justin Herald.
“If you were to go to Africa on safari, the guide wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time pointing out the elephants,” writes Herald.
After all, how could you miss them?
On the other hand, fleas are so tiny that they are very hard to find. But still, they can cause a great deal of pain and irritation, as any dog owner can attest.
“It is the little things that cause the major issues in our lives,” writes Herald. “Those little things, while they remain unseen, are the reason that many people keep battling with the same issues over and over again.”
I had it all wrong! I was stressing out about the “elephants” in life when I should have been focusing on the “fleas.”
A wildfire 1,000 miles away is sad, but I can’t do anything about it. It wasn’t helpful for me to become seriously depressed about it.
But there are “fleas” in my life that I can deal with. Day-to-day difficulties that I can do something about—if I have the right attitude.
“Focusing all of my attention on things that, in reality, are so far from my grasp will only ensure that I become more disheartened on a daily basis,” writes Herald.
“It also means that I will stop focusing on the things that I could do today that will make me happier right now.”
What are the issues that are holding you back from living a life full of joy? Let go of the elephants, and think for a few moments about the fleas.
Then move forward with practical, daily actions and a positive attitude.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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