Positivity is a choice

A few months ago I was talking to a twenty-something “influencer,” and he complimented me on doing some pretty cool things, which I thought was nice. Unfortunately, he kept talking, and when he did the following words came out — “Man, can you imagine where you’d be if you didn’t have a wife and kids to slow you down.”

Being that I’m 40 years old means I’ve also been 26, so I refrained from giving him the lashing out that I wanted to. But walking home that day I couldn’t help but think to myself just how wrong he’d gotten it.

Everything I have today I owe to my wife. This is because through her actions over the last nine years she’s taught me how to lead a good life.

And fortunately, her ingredients are simple.

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Never stop looking for the good around you:

My wife and I met when I came to her office to give a seminar. I thought she was beautiful. She thought I was interesting. Somehow that mix led us to eat lunch together afterward. As we were wandering the rainy streets of Barcelona looking for a place to eat, suddenly the sun came out. When it did, my wife stopped, closed her eyes, tilted up her head, and smiled.

Our kids are cute, and maybe the image of watching them sleep will be what I see when I’m old and grey. But not before the image of my little one closing her eyes and taking in the sun on that chances of rain October day.

In one fluid motion, she proved to me that the moments that stop the world only happen to those who choose to take the time to appreciate all the beauty that exists in the world.

“There isn’t a lack of beauty in the world. Simply a lack of people looking for it.” — My wife

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Do not complain or gossip about other people:

In the nine years my wife and I have been together she has never once uttered a bad word about another human being. She may have rolled her eyes a few times or advised me to watch out for myself in certain company. But when it comes to speaking poorly of others my wife has made the conscious choice not to do it.

I wish I could sit here today and say that since meeting her I’ve developed the same level of self-control, but that would be a lie. I still gossip and I still complain about other people.

However, since becoming more aware of what a tremendous quality restraint is in another human being, I’ve gotten better at it — and I know my life has improved because of it.

“Judge a person by who they are, not by what they’ve done.” — My wife

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Prioritize connections over contacts:

Recently at a dinner party, a mutual friend of ours said they were going to bed happy because they had reached a certain number of followers. After hearing this my wife shook her head and said to me — “My God I hope our kids never gauge their happiness on how cool other people think they are.”

My wife has 187 Facebook connections and she knows every single one of them. She has the smallest list of phone numbers I’ve ever seen on a phone. She is not a hermit, in fact, she is quite social.

However, she just chooses to go deep with the people she cares about rather than swimming on the surface with people she doesn’t.

“The best way to lead a good life is by surrounding yourself with good people.” — My wife

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Embrace what you have instead of pining over what you don’t:

Everything my wife loves is either free or extremely cheap. She priorities these things because she knows that any big ticket item that may make us happy in the short-run isn’t worth it if it creates stress in the long-run.

“Do we really need this?” “Do you think in a few months you will still be excited about this?” These are the questions my wife asks me whenever my dreams are bigger than my wallet.

She asks me these questions because she knows that the fastest way to jeopardize the things we have today is by thinking too much about tomorrow.

“There is nothing we do not already have that could make me any happier.” — My wife

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Practice daily gestures of small love:

Do you know what makes me smile? The cute little notes my wife leaves for me around the house. You know what else? Watching her kiss the foreheads of our little ones while they are asleep in her arms.

If my wife understands one thing about living a good life it’s this — lasting relationships are forged by frequent gestures of love.

She accomplishes this by asking herself every day what she can do to improve the lives of the people she cares about. Then she does what she can, with what she has, to make that happen.

“Big love is the result of consistent gestures of small love.” — My wife

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Treat your body with respect:

The first time I had lunch with my wife’s family her mother brought out a giant bowl of fruit for dessert. Everyone at the table was excited. I, however, was horrified.

Fast-forward to today and to my surprise, I too consider fruit to be a dessert. In the process my wife has taught me that we’re not only a direct reflection of the company we keep — we are also a reflection of what we eat.

She’s never used a fancy diet or overloaded herself with pilates classes in May to look good in June. She doesn’t have to. And the reason for this is simple — every single day she drinks loads of water, makes healthy food decisions, and walks everywhere.

She doesn’t do this to look good. She makes these decisions because they help her to be not only kinder to herself, but also the people around her. This is for the simple fact it’s hard to yell at someone after going for a long walk.

“If you take care of yourself the rest takes care of itself.” — My wife

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Pulling it all together:

Nine years have passed since I won the lottery and met my wife. During this time she has taught me many incredible lessons about the world and how to lead a good life.

She has taught me how to look for the good in both everything and everyone. She has taught me the importance of developing deep relationships with the people I care about. She has taught me how to take care of myself and the importance of giving myself the respect I deserve.

But most of all, by being fortunate enough to spend every day together — she has taught me the importance of doing them every single day.

Our health, our relationships, our mindset, these aren’t things we can water once and then we’re done. But rather things we need to care for on a daily basis.

So a line from my wife and take a moment today to soak up the sun.

And then do the same tomorrow.

Choosing to see the good in everything is a choice, and I suggest if you want to lead a good life — you choose positivity.

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This article first appeared in PS I Love You (Medium.com)

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