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Practicing Healthy Behaviors

102nd Intelligence Wing Chaplain, Lt.  Col. David Berube

102nd Intelligence Wing Chaplain, Lt. Col. David Berube

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Many of us grew up with the Tales of Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger.  And let us not forget about the grumpy and gloomy Eeyore, the grey donkey who thinks the worst in any given situation.  Although loveable, he represents the pessimist among us, viewing the world through brown tinted glasses.  In uncertain times, it is easy for even the most hopeful individual to give into the temptation of negative thoughts.  And although the storybook characters in Winnie the Pooh didn't allow Eeyore's mood to influence theirs, in the real world, dissatisfaction and unrest can spread quickly through a group and cause great disharmony. 

So, how does a group stay focused on their mission without allowing the distractions of uncertainty infiltrate their midst?  How is the Eeyore factor disrupted? 

While there is no "quick fix," consider these five things to help you stay positive in the midst of adversity.

 Be Honest: Are you angry, frustrated, sad, or fearful?  Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, you are not gaining any ground?  By acknowledging our feelings we often free ourselves from their negative impact.  When we bury them, feelings have a way or resurfacing in unexpected and unhealthy ways. 

 Don't Contribute to the Negativity:  I don't know about you, but participating in conversations where the focus is on dissatisfaction often leaves me feeling drained of optimism.  Do you complain to your family each night?  If so, that's a clear indicator that a change is in order. 

  Recognize You're Human: Let's face it, everyone occasionally experience situations in which you uphold decisions you don't entirely support. No one in life gets their way every time.  And sometimes, it's not about waving the proverbial white flag, but in how you do it. Words, actions, non-verbal behavior, and tone of voice matter. A question I often ask myself in these types of situations is, "Are my actions (or reactions) going to get me what I want?" Maintaining professionalism, yet remaining authentic adds to your credibility and trustworthiness.

 Make Your Criticism Constructive: Don't just complain.  Be ready to offer solutions to the problems you are pointing out.  Offer to help to implement them. 

 Be Grateful: Focus on what you appreciate - about yourself, others, and life in general.  Adversity can remind us that while things may be tough, we have so many blessings - health, a place to live, people who love us, and much more.  We may realize we're stronger than we thought we were, we have more support than we knew, or we're able to learn important lessons about ourselves and life.

The Eeyore factor is present in times of adversity as well as in times of stability.   We have the choice of contributing to its advancement or its cessation.  Stay strong.  Support each other.  Take care of yourself.  Thanks for all you do.  Until next time...