The pervasive negative news about hatred, killings, racial, gender, and religious divides has created a depressing cloud over our heads. Another outlook is desperately needed. I checked our Declaration of Independence and was reminded that we fought over the right to life, liberty and happiness.
I have decided to assert my right to happiness by consciously looking for what’s good. I’m uncovering many moments of joy, but also guideposts that point the way. They are not Pokémon Go characters, but real world situations.
1. Choose the Positive
My journey is forcing me to switch my thinking. Just like the physical workouts we do, it takes practice to feel good, but I am learning to flip a negative into a positive.
Example. Before going to Bhutan recently, I had lots of to-dos and deadlines stressing me. My blood glucose meter started flashing. A battery change was needed, but it wasn’t easily replaced. After many failures, I was furious. “I didn’t need this now,” I muttered. Then I realized how lucky it happened here and not there.
2. Connect With People
During a recent hurricane, I was flying home when the Delta pilot announced the winds had taken down the radar system and we would circle a bit or land elsewhere. Power was eventually restored and we landed in terrible turbulence. Upon landing, the passengers spontaneously applauded. As we departed, the pilot came out and shook each of our hands. We grinned with gratitude. I bounced off that plane beaming and focusing on what a great landing we had! That pilot had turned around my awful trip into a positive memory.
3. Be Open
Our community’s Giving Challenge, which raised a phenomenal $13.4 million in 24 hours, got our local agencies creatively outreaching. I stopped by the Bishop Planetarium and unexpectedly got a lesson in openness. Jeff Rodgers, planetarium and education director, described how 16 4-year-olds were unexpectedly being housed at the museum because of an overflow at Ballard Elementary School.
This represented both a challenge and a glorious opportunity for the children and the museum to share the museum’s resources, and to test some of their Backyard Universe concepts with real children. Traditional space for ongoing and new programming had to be modified, along with creating an activity space for these youngsters.
Now when I see the museum’s front yard being torn up to create the VPK Outdoor Leaning Space, I don’t see gravel and ugliness. I see youngsters learning, helping staff make the Backyard Universe more wonderful and their learning to become more hands-on. How fortunate the Manatee Early Learning Coalition, the Manatee Education Foundation and the South Florida Museum board and staff teamed up when an unexpected “problem” of student overflow occurred.
4. Put Fun Into Causes and Buildings
The new building that houses the Manatee Community Foundation contains a community room. That space is for local groups to meet, connect, deliberate and develop community solutions to needs. I was amazed how during the Giving Challenge, it also became a hotbed of community goodwill, as MCF staff and community leaders slept over coordinating campaign details, and recognizing donors and ambassadors for their generosity.
Local restaurants helped feed the guests, while parents brought children who delighted in discovering that there were free books available thanks to the United Way and the Early Learning Coalition. There was a costume area where millennials and others snapped selfies! Balloons were everywhere and the costumed Hernando Desoto Historic Society brought its ship to greet everyone.
This was the first year Manatee County had space to bring together the generous donors and needy charities to celebrate as one. Everyone left feeling good, even giddy. Raising money for good is serious; it can also be fun!
Look around. Please share what you find that highlights what is good in our community.
Jane Plitt, a Bradenton author and ,