Faith WoodMy daughter has a Facebook friend whose life seems perfect. She lives in a gorgeous house, has a really rewarding career, and she and her family go on all kinds of exciting adventures. No matter where they are or what activity they’re involved in, the whole family appears carefree and joyful!

This friend is constantly posting about how blessed and grateful she is for the life she has. I get the feeling she’s not just saying those things for the sake of Facebook but that she truly means it.

As happy as my daughter is for them, I know there are times when she feels a bit sad about all this. She would like to have a relationship like her friend’s, a rewarding career and a chance to have similar adventures. Instead, she feels she’s living a more stressful existence. Living paycheque to paycheque in a predictable job. Her boyfriend feels stress intensely and it shows in significant mood swings. They fret over paying bills and finding a place to rent in a market that has few options, rather than enjoying the area they live in.

Its natural to scroll through the Facebook news feeds and roll your eyes occasionally. To envy someone else’s life from time to time. It’s just a few moments of introspective angst so how could it hurt?

Researchers and neuroscientists warn that these small thoughts may significantly undermine your talents, mood and overall performance.

When we envy our friends’ lives, complain about politics, the economy or our relationships, when we imagine that someone else has taken all the luck and opportunity the universe has, it slowly eats away at our mental strength and resourcefulness.

When we constantly expose ourselves to naysayers and fear inducers, we’re unconsciously limiting our ability to thrive. We become suspicious and judgmental. And we become those people who others avoid, so our dire moods cause us to feel even more alone in the world.

If you had the choice to hang out with two people – one bubbly, positive and playful, and one negative and bitter – who would you choose?

None of us want to be those people, but life can be pretty hard on us. When we’re exposed to constant negativity, we soak it up before we even realize it’s happening.

To live an extraordinary life, we must deliberately shift our focus. We need to make a real effort to find opportunities for gratitude. We need to make time to do things that bring us joy. Cooking, cycling, walking the dog – anything that creates an energy of more ease and flow.

There are going to be stressful moments and events in our lives, but we don’t need to wallow in those moments. When I was a single mom, I had my fair share of wondering how I was going to pay the bills. But I look back and laugh at how resourceful I was when there was nothing in the house to eat.

We need to rise above circumstances and focus on being more resilient.

It will help if we make sure we’re ruthless about who we spend time with.

We’re influenced more heavily than we realize by the five people we spend the most time with. They influence our perspective and our behaviours.

Don’t ever give people an opportunity to badmouth your decisions. You may think you’re not affected by their words, but subconsciously the opposite may be happening.

No matter what’s going right or wrong, events and situations constantly change. We all have years to enjoy this journey of life, to live our adventure and fill our time with moments of awe and wonder. We can spend those years making excuses, procrastinating or delaying happiness – or refocus on what’s going right, take the gamble and learn to play with it all.

It really is a matter of choice.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

© Troy Media

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