I’m learning the power of positive thinking. It’s this thing Mike has me doing. For 26 years I’ve been setting low expectations so the outcome could never be worse than I imagined. I naturally approach a situation thinking the world is plotting against me. Long line at the ticket booth? They’ll run out before we get to the front! Didn’t book a place to stay in advance? We’ll have to sleep in the park! The cabbie didn’t turn on the meter? We’re going to get ripped off! (To be fair, that last one is typically the case.) But I can’t be my usual negative self on our trip — unless I want my return to the States to be for divorce proceedings.
Mike has been my rock on this trip. From my “I will not survive this taxi” moment to my freak-outs for bogus charges on our credit card, Mike has been there to calm me down. His smile and positivity keep me sane, and I know I need to do the same for him. We’re in this together, and I can’t let small things bring me down while he still has hope for the bigger picture.
It’s not that I’m instantly negative. I do the what-if scenarios, which don’t always have a positive outcome. But you can’t dwell on that, Mike tells me. Think positive thoughts and remember that in the end, things will work out, he says. Now you’re nodding your head saying, “Yes, yes, of course. Come on, Tara, this is Life 101!” But I know very few people who stay as positive as Mike. Actually, I can’t name one.
The majority of us are devastated by what turn out to be minor setbacks. We dwell on check-in times or bus schedules. If something doesn’t go according to plan, we believe the domino effect will take over and ruin our day, and perhaps the next few. I’ve learned two things during this trip (Well, I’ve learned much more, but these two make sense here.): 1) If something goes awry, you change your plans or plan a new adventure, and 2) If you stay positive, knowing that things will work out in some way in the end, nothing will ruin your day.
We’ve encountered our fair share of expletive-here situations that turn around 180 degrees and leave us with a renewed faith in humankind. And after three months of these instances, I get it. I understand that not being on that a bus won’t ruin my day; it just means I have to find a creative solution or cancel one hostel reservation and make another. And sometimes, when you arrive somewhere and are completely clueless, strangers are actually there to help. In the words of a Portuguese bus driver: “Everything is ok. Breathe. There’s no rush. Take your time. Everything is fine.” I didn’t even know I looked stressed.
So Mike has me on this three-step program to combat stress and burnout. Step 1: Take a deep breath. Step 2: Smile. Step 3: Believe in your smile because we’re traveling around the world, and nothing will be as memorable as this year.