By Matt Hearnden
A couple of days ago my parents and I were talking about when my mum had cancer.
I remember crying when they told my 11-year-old self. I think I cried because I didn’t know what it meant. And, you know, that word. “Cancer.”
My mum said that, because she had cancer, one of her old friends, one of her best friends, a friend who she’d fallen out with and hadn’t spoken to in years, sent her some flowers.
My parents were touched. They reached back out to them.
They’re friends again.
She’s one of my mum’s best friends again.
Because my mum had cancer.
I was writing a book and I was about to send it to people and I realised I was about to send them the draft version.
Hmm, I thought. I thought I was sending the final version. I’ll just delete this version and attach the final version.
But the final version wasn’t there.
I felt a tiny panic. It wasn’t there but it had to be somewhere. Right?
I looked. I searched. I bargained with my laptop.
Nope. Gone. Forever.
I’d spent weeks on that fucking book. There was some valuable shit in there. And now there was only this draft version, this joke, this rubbish.
I was angry. I was sad. I was done.
“I’m not writing it again,” I thought. I couldn’t write it again. I couldn’t bring myself to start at the bottom. Not again.
But then I remembered the message from one of the best books I’ve ever read.
The obstacle is the way.
In the moment, in all of my emotion, I didn’t want that to be true. I wanted to make excuses for myself and I wanted to believe those excuses because then I could relax and not take on this challenge that was right there to be destroyed.
I breathed. I breathed again. What else can we do?
And then I thought “what would happen if the obstacle was the way?”
I thought “well… I’d write the book again. But I’d make it better.”
I could make it better not DESPITE it being deleted. I could make it better only BECAUSE it had been deleted.
The slightly more experienced, the slightly calmer, the slightly wiser me was about to get a chance to rewrite this book.
How could that possibly be a bad thing?
How could that not be a good thing?
I started again.
The introduction was about how deleting the final draft of the book had allowed me to make the book even better.
It was about how I enjoyed writing it even more the second time because I knew I was making it a better book.
Because I knew I was a better person.
Nothing is negative or positive. We just think it is because we think that we’re somehow smarter than 14 billion years worth of universe and of course we know that something is good or something is bad and we will not be convinced otherwise thank you very much!
I don’t think the phrase “just be positive!” works.
I think this is what works:
“Is it ok for you to be positive?”
If it’s not a complete, total, 100% yes, it’s a no.
What’s stopping you from being positive? Are you scared that you’ll be proved wrong? Are you worried that you won’t be protected?
How does being negative work for you? Are you happy? Do you have what you want?
Do you not believe you deserve any better than to be negative?
Would you tell your best friend to be negative?
Would you tell your kids to be negative?
I have a positive approach to life because it’s ok for me to have a positive approach to life.
There’s no trick. Maybe you were hoping for one. For the “one thing” you could do to just think positively!
The “technique” is to be honest. It’s to be vulnerable with yourself. It’s letting yourself know that you’re afraid… but that on the other side of that fear is relief.
And then maybe you’ll realise that anything can be positive.