Staying on the Bright Side

By Jan Jackson

Focus on the positive they said. It will make you feel better. The glass isn’t half empty, it’s half full they said.

I not only bought into the think positive bit but I’m kind of famous for it.

I read, where you should keep a log for two weeks so you could check your “positivity.” Well, I don’t need to do that because to stay positive, I must check myself all day everyday – just to make sure I don’t drift into the ‘negative lane.’ It’s like paying attention when you drive along the highway. You have to stay on the right side of the yellow line. You cannot let yourself drift.

A family trait

I think I learned to look on the positive side from both my parents and grandparents who raised their families during the great depression. They could not afford to drift to the negative side for fear of not making it back.

My mother’s father used to build stuff. He was fast and he got it done, but he wasn’t really very good at it. When he was done, he used to say, “Well, this may not be pretty for nice, but it’s hell for stout.”

My father’s mother, raised and preserved the family’s food and when she served us a meager meal, she always prefaced it with, “Well, this isn’t much, but it beats a snowbank.”

When my mother had to live in a house with open studs for walls, she mixed flour and water to make paste and wallpapered the studs with newspapers to make it look nice. When I wrecked my dad’s car (I was 16) my dad said, “Well that’s OK, the ash trays were full anyway.”

My best example

One of my famous examples of looking on the bright side, was when my friend borrowed my company’s slide projector. She took it home and set it up on her dining room table and started sorting the photos she took in Ireland.

All of a sudden, the projector it wouldn’t stop speed-rotating the slides. She panicked, took it to the photo store to see if they could repair it so I wouldn’t find out she broke it and of course they would have to send it in, and it would take too long.

Into my office she came with the broken machine and confessed.

Without skipping a beat, I said, “Thank heavens it did that with you at your dining room table and not me in the middle of a slide show with 100 people in attendance.”

She rolled her eyes, and said, “I knew it! I said to myself, ‘OK, how is Jackson going to turn this into a positive? And you did it.”

It’s not for sissies

Staying positive isn’t easy and it’s not for sissies. It does help you get you through tough times – like right now – inflation, the political climate, the state of the world.

My mantra? “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” I chant that to myself. It keeps me from drifting across that yellow line.

Jan Jackson, is a retired tour operator, freelance writer and publisher of the Country Traveler Online since 2009. You may contact her at

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