Do you look on the bright side when things go wrong? Some call it seeing the silver lining or making lemonade out of lemons. I’ve also heard people say “let’s make the best of a bad situation” and even “grin and bear it.”
I often say “it is what it is” in conjunction with “this, too, shall pass” (and even recently wrote This, Too, Shall Pass — Echoes of Oak Trees).
Looking on the bright side has always come naturally to me. I do my best to make things go the way I want — such as ordering the best meal at a restaurant, planning the perfect vacation destination, choosing the right career, buying the right house, and even adopting the right dog.
Most things don’t work out the way I plan, though. We couldn’t have kids, which fine-tuned my ability to look on the bright side!
When things don’t work out, I’m the first to see the benefits of the new situation. My favorite sushi restaurant temporarily closed? A splendid time to try the new Lebanese restaurant. Stuck at the airport in Nepal because I messed up the entry visa for India? Perfect time to take a leap of faith and fly somewhere unexpected — and write an article called What to Do When They Refuse to Let You Board the Flight.
But yesterday something shifted. I realized that looking on the bright side isn’t working for me anymore. It doesn’t have the same effect. The shine has dimmed, the luster faded, the sparkles falling off.
The bright side is tarnished…and something even more brilliant is rising.
A Different Way of Looking at the Bright Side
Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
“Looking on the bright side or finding the benefits in a bad situation means that I am STILL relying on external events to make me happy! Changing how I think about a situation is not spiritual enlightenment. I am still dependent on circumstances for my happiness; they are still in control of how I feel.”
When things go as planned, you are happy (for awhile). If things don’t go as planned, you see the silver lining or make lemons out of lemonade. And maybe you’re happy (for awhile).
Either way, you’re allowing external events — and your interpretation of events — to control how you feel.
Until yesterday, looking on the bright side made sense to me. Today I believe that seeing how things worked in your favor or made you happy is not your highest level of being.
Instead of Looking on the Bright Side
How about bringing the bright side with you? Wouldn’t it be amazing, to be in the flow of deep joy, peace, freedom, love and compassion no matter what happens in the world — or in your life?
You’d be free. Light. Open, curious, awake, alive.
Imagine what it would be like to feel the presence of God in all situations. No more trying to make things happen the way you think they should. No more controlling, manipulating, striving, straining, fretting, gritting your teeth and elbowing your way forward. No more making the best of a bad situation, or even making lemonade out of lemons.
Are you allowing external events — or even past mistakes, regrets, failures, disappointments, losses — to control you? Maybe you’re letting fear and anxiety creep into your nights, judgement and dissatisfaction to darken your days. Maybe you’re forcing yourself to grin and bear it but the truth is you’re getting awfully tired of looking on the bright side.
Making lemonade out of lemons is hard work. Especially if you’re not a natural cook. And what if there is no bright side, or you’re too tired and beaten down to find the lemonade-maker?
Echoes of You
If you follow Christ and are familiar with Scripture, you may notice echoes of Paul in Philippians. Or maybe you were reminded of Jesus’s words about the Kingdom of Heaven being within you (Luke 17:21).
Or maybe you remember what Glinda said to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: “You’ve always had the power, my dear.”
This clearly isn’t a new idea, but it is new to me. As someone who always looked on the bright side, I had no idea there was something even better than the bright side. And it I carry it around with and in me!
The bright side is within me. It blows my mind.
What’s been blowing your mind lately?
Travel in Faith and Blossom
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