My glass is always half full, it is a survival mechanism that has served me well

By Nina Steele 

My glass is always half fullI have lost count of the number of articles I have read recently regarding mental illness reaching epidemic proportions. As someone who spends a great deal of time on social media, I can see some of the triggers. If you look for validation in other people, then where best to try and get it than social media. People’s personal lives are everywhere. I have close to 5,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook, and even though I only know a few of those people personally, I feel like I know a lot of them, because of the amount of personal stuff they share.

The problem with wanting other people’s approval is that it always ends in tears. Why? Because you are asking validation from people who are themselves struggling to make sense of their lives. Sometimes, their struggle is even greater than yours. Of course much of this struggle is usually hidden from social media and what you see is the illusion of a perfect life that does not exist in reality.

It’s not just social media of course. This idea of living one’s life permanently trying to impress others, permeates all aspects of life. As a result of wanting to impress others, people with a perfectly good life, end up making themselves miserable.

I remember a former acquaintance, then in her 30s. She had a career she enjoyed and which also paid well. Yet she was deeply unhappy, because her sister was married with children, while she was still single and childless. She hated her life, even though she was far better off than most people, because she wanted the same life her sister had.

In complete contrast, another acquaintance in her 40s, who was also single and childless, was one of the most positive people I knew. The difference between the two was that the woman in her 40s lived her life by her own rules. She too had siblings with children, but never saw her situation as an issue, because she loved the freedom that it brought her.

Having a positive mindset is a character trait, although it can of course be learnt. Luckily for me, I have always been that way. That is one of the gifts of being born in the Ivory Coast. Laughter is something you hear a lot, even when people are down to their last penny. It is a survival mechanism. Making yourself miserable when you are likely going to be faced with the same reality for the rest of your life, is not even worth thinking about.

That character trait came in handy when my husband and I made the choice to live our life childfree. Instead of seeing the lack of children as a minus, I came to see it as a plus, particularly financially. We have recently become mortgage-free, as a result of years of saving and living simply. It would never have been possible at this stage of her life, had we been parents.

Ultimately, life is what we make of it. Challenges will always come our way, as we progress through life. With a positive mindset, you learn to ride with the tide, knowing that whatever the difficulty is that you are facing, it too will pass.

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