When people tell me to just 'be positive' or to 'see the bright side' or other well meant advice, it does not really do much for me.
What does more for me, if I tell myself a story and place myself INSiDE the story. It goes something like this:
When I feel overwhelmed by things in life, when the problems (or "challenges") start to feel like a ton of rocks and there is no fun at all in life, then I tell myself a story that I told myself in 1987:
"I remember in Kobe, Japan, in 1987 standing on a hillside at a Shinto Shrine overlooking the city and the sea and playing mind games with myself of pretending I was visitor from another planet and I had the choice to bail out or stick it out with humanity & go down with the ship if it came to that worst case scenario. I felt this love and commitment to the beauty and good things in human beings . I decided to see "it" through all the way, to take the risk of humanity destroying themselves or of struggling through to a new greater freedom. Weird stuff really but it kind of makes sense in view of the things I have learned since. Basically it was an affirmation of life and willingness to continue - how much else it was & in what way and in what context is hazy.
The way I actually decided was to imagine myself in a perfect world where I had all I wanted and then I asked myself if I was happy to just enjoy happiness there ?
Then I thought I`d get bored there and would go in search of adventure ( like the Fool of the Tarot) and where would I go ? I’d go to this life, this planet, & I’d be right where I am NOW ! So in fact I was a visitor from this perfect world... having an adventure of life right now, right here.
I imagined also that since Ultimate Reality (god, source, Buddha, whoever...) is perfect and that one day everything & I mean everything will be all right and so this perfect world would always be there, waiting for me. No matter what happened, it would be there, so enjoy life and do the best you can and smile... :-)
.... anyway something like that was what went through my mind as I stood looking out over the city of Kobe, from the Shinto Shrine on the hill... in 1987"
When I feel frustrated with the society I'm living in, frustrated by the bureaucracy and the stupidity (of course I never contribute to any of those ha ha ha ) then I tell myself this story:
I come from a place of no restrictions and as a game I'm trying to expereience different ways of living. So I tell myself that I am a traveller from another country. I am here to living in this country to experience life from just THIS perspective.
It feels a little like being a game designer: Let's create a world where the people don't see and know anything except what is written down for them ... etc...etc... Then I enter that world, in fact that worls is where I am right NOW. (funny coincidence that)
I got this idea above from having lived in different countries. When I lived in Laos for some strange reason I did not mind the restrictions, the things that were less than perfect in my eyes, because I had come to experience a different country and I was a curious visitor. The same attitude helped me in Japan: I was there to experience life from a Japanese perspective, and I accepted things that I would never have accepted in my home country.
Then I realized: I had no home country, every country, every society has its unique 'take' on things, its set of restrictions and freedoms and it is part of the game of life to play by the rules of the current game.
Thai people have the concept of 'sanuk' = fun, enjoyable. They make everything they do bearable and 'sanuk' in some way. They add the little curly bits and the small extras and suddenly things ARE bearable. If you have ever lived in the Kingdom of Siam, or Laos you will know what I mean.
These are the ways of HOW I "enter" a story - or a 'mood' as Carlos Castaneda calls it.
I found that story lets me get into the 'mood' better than simply trying to follow simple advice like " be positive " or "cheer up" .
When a friend was trying to decide what to do, I wrote a story for her here. Stories give people more room to move, they give a three dimensional perspective. Advice is like a picture, a story is like a sculpture, you can walk around it and see it from different angles.
There is a great essay called "On Desert Islands" which talks about the life attitude sense of adventure by Dororthy L Sayers, I'm trying to find it and want to quote bits of it here.
More on Dorothy L Sayers here.