Why Hard Things Can Be the Most Positive Things In Life

I started studying Positivity because of the problem I have with negativity. Notice I said, “have” not “had.” I’m a work in progress.

It’s rooted in many things: being a child of divorced parents, abuse, starting in a new school every year, and feeling like a complete loser most of my life – I could go on and on.IMG_8599

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. IMG_9404

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.

IMG_9115I’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.

To reach me directly email me: tom@yourpositivitycoach.com or shoot me a message on Facebook.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Why Hard Things Can Be the Most Positive Things In Life

  1. What a great story you are writing – from negativity to positivity, from hiding behind false self to sharing your struggles, from comfort to discomfort. It is a journey into truth and grace. It is an adventure and it imparts courage to others as they see you taking on your issues and they think, “if he can do it, maybe I can too.”

    It is a righteous dream that you are living.

    • Couldn’t have done it without your encouragement Seth. We all need brothers and sisters in our lives. Not the flippant names we prescribe, but those who separate themselves from the crowd, believe in us with all their hearts, and give us the courage to believe we can accomplish our dreams.

  2. Gosh, this is really inspiring stuff. I’m very sorry that you experienced burnout. I admire the work you did with Children’s HopeChest (we’re sponsors). However, I also admire your honesty and bravery about your/your family’s journey.

    As a military wife, I’m forever trying to mitigate the discomfort that comes with starting from scratch every couple of years, especially for my kiddos. It’s so very hard and my heart aches for them. To be honest, for me too sometimes. This is a great reminder of where my focus should be: embracing the discomfort and the beautiful opportunities. Sure, yes, it hurts to leave. That’s okay and right too. It’s important to feel and acknowledge that, but that shouldn’t be what we stand on. We should stand on the beautiful gift we’ve been given – and these chances to see more, to do more, for deep relationship with the people we share this journey with (my husband and kids) and relationship with the new people God brings into our lives through all of these moves. And, my goodness, these kids of mine…they’re resilient and winsome and truly wonderful people. I have to believe the moves have definitely been more good than bad. Thanks for that reminder (as we’re coming up on another season of unknowns).

    P.S. I too struggle with negativity and I’m looking forward to this new ministry of yours! I’ll be praying for God to bless you and your wife and kids in this new endeavor!

    P.P.S. Barcelona. Good choice. 🙂

    • Erica, what wise words you have written. 🙂 One of the things I realized living in the US was this – my kids were so comfortable, they weren’t resilient. I didn’t really even know it until we came to Spain. I think many parents do the same thing without knowing. We try to make sure our kids have everything they need, an we can be a bit overprotective. Those are good things, but studies are showing that this new generation doesn’t know what to do when they fail in their 20’s. They weren’t taught to be resilient. I believe that your kids are learning so much from what they are experience and they will be that much stronger as adults. Many blessings to you this holiday season!