I started studying Positivity because of the problem I have with negativity. Notice I said, “have” not “had.” I’m a work in progress.
Those things are certainly negative. But one of the most positive things I ever did was to begin the journey of facing the pain and rejection of my childhood. I needed to accept responsibility for my life and work through my issues in the present so I could have the kind of future I desired. It helped the healing process begin and helped me grow. It was painful, it was hard, but it was incredibly positive.
I worked hard to have the “American dream life.” Our life in the U.S. was fantastic. I was a published author, the CEO of a non-profit organization helping orphans around the world, I traveled to over 40 countries, I owned several businesses, we had a huge house on 3 acres, 5 cars, plenty of money, AND a 65 inch HD TV (a true luxury here : ). We enjoyed great restaurants at all the time and all of the western conveniences we could ever want. But my wife and I started to notice some things that concerned us – in our lives and the lives of our children.
The more comfortable our kids were, the less motivated they were. Their life was almost too easy. We were huge contributors to this – making sure they had every single thing they needed. The best of everything – sports, sports gear, excellent training, shoes, food, ice cream, you name it. But it wasn’t creating the kinds of values in them we wanted. Nor in us.
We had to do something different: We needed to do some hard things to interrupt our comfortable life. The kids were growing up too fast and we had one last ‘hurrah’ in us before they were all off to college and we were standing in our kitchen alone wondering what in the heck just happened to us.
Because I have been all over the world, I knew the value of experiencing other cultures and caring for others less fortunate than ourselves. I was also very influenced by an article I read entitled, The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things. I strongly suggest you read it.
So after a lot of prayer we packed up and moved to Barcelona – with the ache of leaving our oldest son behind to start his 1st year of university in Virginia (obviously much more to this story). Now, Barcelona is a great city. But, before you think we live in paradise, I can assure you we do not. We are not on vacation here. We are living real life. Come visit us and you’ll see. We live right in the middle of the city in an apartment. Not a super nice one either – it’s a purely Spanish and immigrant neighborhood. We have no car, we take public transport. The people we’ve met are so kind but, because of the language barrier, we don’t have many friends. My kids came prepared to learn Spanish, but in school they are taught in Catalan (1st day of school photo)…we knew this but minimized what it would mean (I’ve learned that there are positives on this point in this article: Bilingual kids have multiple advantages, no matter the what the languages are.) So, forget making lemonade out of lemons, we’re planting groves of lemon trees around here.
This is HARD, really hard. It is harder to watch and trust the process for our kids even more. Honestly, we had no idea how much rescuing and buffering we were doing to save them from being uncomfortable. However, I believe this is one of the most valuable experiences of our lives, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My 16 year old has even stepped out of his box and is blogging about his experiences in Spain. All to say, I’m incredibly grateful.
I’m blogging and writing again and it’s something I absolutely love. I was too busy in the U.S. but I’ve been able to create room for myself to do that here. I can breathe and think more clearly. We’re starting a Leadership Training School focused on faith and Positivity. I’m with my kids more, finishing up my doctorate, really enjoying being with my wife, and investing in experiences over things.
Then, I opened Michael Hyatt’s blog today and, low and behold, what did he write about? Why Discomfort Is Good for You. And I would add to that – Because it leads to vastly increased levels of Positivity.
I’m not suggesting you move your family across the world. But I am suggesting you (1) Get intentional about stepping outside your box, (2) Choose experiences over things, and (3) Spend more time with those you love and care about.
You’ll never remember working all those extra hours, scrolling endlessly on Facebook, and being unhappy for months or years because your stress level is too high. But you will remember investing in the (3) things I just mentioned. You’ll never regret it.
Listen, you can do it – I know you can. I believe in you because I’ve watched the tide turn in my life. This is your life and it’s worth making radical changes so you can experience it fully alive. You’re worth it and so are those you care about.
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