Finding the Good

Mike Filming in Iceland

Always smiling. Even when exposed to rain and 0ºC temps in Iceland.

I’m learning the power of positive thinking. It’s this thing Mike has me doing. For 26 years I’ve been setting low expectations so the outcome could never be worse than I imagined. I naturally approach a situation thinking the world is plotting against me.  Long line at the ticket booth? They’ll run out before we get to the front! Didn’t book a place to stay in advance? We’ll have to sleep in the park! The cabbie didn’t turn on the meter? We’re going to get ripped off! (To be fair, that last one is typically the case.) But I can’t be my usual negative self on our trip — unless I want my return to the States to be for divorce proceedings.

Mike has been my rock on this trip. From my “I will not survive this taxi” moment to my freak-outs for bogus charges on our credit card, Mike has been there to calm me down. His smile and positivity keep me sane, and I know I need to do the same for him. We’re in this together, and I can’t let small things bring me down while he still has hope for the bigger picture.

It’s not that I’m instantly negative. I do the what-if scenarios, which don’t always have a positive outcome.  But you can’t dwell on that, Mike tells me. Think positive thoughts and remember that in the end, things will work out, he says. Now you’re nodding your head saying, “Yes, yes, of course. Come on, Tara, this is Life 101!” But I know very few people who stay as positive as Mike. Actually, I can’t name one.

Tara in Porto at Port Wine Festival

Life goes on. And those bad situations? They got better.

The majority of us are devastated by what turn out to be minor setbacks. We dwell on check-in times or bus schedules. If something doesn’t go according to plan, we believe the domino effect will take over and ruin our day, and perhaps the next few. I’ve learned two things during this trip (Well, I’ve learned much more, but these two make sense here.): 1) If something goes awry, you change your plans or plan a new adventure, and 2) If you stay positive, knowing that things will work out in some way in the end, nothing will ruin your day.

We’ve encountered our fair share of expletive-here situations that turn around 180 degrees and leave us with a renewed faith in humankind. And after three months of these instances, I get it. I understand that not being on that a bus won’t ruin my day; it just means I have to find a creative solution or cancel one hostel reservation and make another.  And sometimes, when you arrive somewhere and are completely clueless, strangers are actually there to help. In the words of a Portuguese bus driver: “Everything is ok. Breathe. There’s no rush. Take your time. Everything is fine.” I didn’t even know I looked stressed.

So Mike has me on this three-step program to combat stress and burnout. Step 1: Take a deep breath. Step 2: Smile. Step 3: Believe in your smile because we’re traveling around the world, and nothing will be as memorable as this year.

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15 responses to “Finding the Good

  1. Tara, I find you to be a very positive person with confidence in everything you do. True, don’t let the small things and set backs upset you. Life goes on and you adjust accordingly. You are both on your own agenda this year. Make the best of it.

  2. Smurf, I am not sure what you mean that for 26 years you have set LOW expectations for yourself, you have always been a very positive person … You have always excelled at everything you set out to do. For example you always did great at softball then awesome at basketball and even better at academics, not to mention your job at the post or your boot camp classes, NEED I GO ON >>>>>!!!!!!
    I am not what you intended from your comment but YOU are and always have been a very positive achiever and excel at all you set out to do !!
    We Love YOU !!! DAD !

    • Thanks for the kind words! But… that’s not what I meant. I don’t set low expectations for myself. I set low expectations for situations that can have a negative outcome. Thinking that a situation might not turn out the way I want it to has nothing to do with excelling in life. This is about things I have no control over, not the things I do, like work, sports, etc. Big difference 🙂

  3. I love this post! When we were traveling abroad in school, we relied on the “next bar to the left” theory. If something went totally wrong, we would go to the next bar on the left from where we currently were and have a beer and come up w a new plan or way to fix it!

  4. You guys are no longer in DC so live like the people around you are living… slow and easy pace, things can wait until tomorrow. You have a plan to get back to the states next July, so enjoy the life you guys are experiencing… you will have great memories of this time in your lives when you look back.

    Make everything into a positive moment and those memories will be fantastic to share with others, who can not live your experiences in person.

    Yes, you hit it right, I sometimes think of Mike as a rock also, because he never moved fast enough to clean his room as a kid! : )

  5. Hey, great post! I am much like Mike in that I figure things will always work out – but, I do think of risks so a little like you too, Tara! The thing is that you are both enjoying it and you will very fond of all these stories once it is all said and done for years to come!

    • It’s when the situation is turning sour that I have a hard time thinking it’ll work out ok. But after so many experiences now where everything turns out fine, it’s a lot easier to have a positive outlook. I’m still learning though 🙂

  6. Tara I strongly disagree with you, You are an amazing person who has achieved so much in her 26 years. You are extremely bright and have succeeded in all your endeavors. Mike definitely has the right idea, things always work out in the end if you keep a positive attitude and that beautiful smile on your face. Enjoy your journey with your loving husband and just roll with the punches, everything will work out in the end!!
    Just think of ALL the great memories you two will have shared.
    Love Aunt Robin

    • Thanks, Aunt Robin. Unfortunately, that’s just the way my mind works, so you can’t disagree with me here 😉 Like I told my dad from him comment, this has nothing to do with me being able to be successful at something, it’s just difficult for me to think positive when a situation is turning negative. But I’m working on changing that through patience and positive thinking. It’s a big year for learning new things!

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