By Kim Xavier
I’m often asked, “Why are you always smiling and so happy all the time?” Well, I can promise you I am not always happy and smiling, but I do strive to maintain a positive outlook daily. I’ve had my own struggles with negativity. I can’t pinpoint when my mind totally shifted to the positive side, but I do know that it comes from implementing daily habits that have compounded over time. The same way we intentionally practice to build speed and accuracy, we can also take intentional steps every day to build a positive outlook that defaults to optimism.
I recognize that the very nature of being a professional stenographer can easily warp the mind of someone who is continuously exposed to the bad side of humanity — and captioners, I see you here too. But as a reporter myself who must fight the “Itty Bitty Negativity Committee” daily — and I win the majority of the time — I am passionate about encouraging every stenographer to find those things, big and small, that will help you create the day you deserve to have.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna — because I promise you I’m not always in a good mood —but it is pretty hard to ruin my day if I’ve started my day the right way. I’ve found that it all comes down to my morning routine. Mornings can totally make or break anyone’s day. We’ve all heard people talk about bad thing after bad thing that happened in a particular day. They woke up late, burned the toast, had a wreck, etc. That’s because days tend to have what I call “magic momentum.” That means, however the morning starts, it will snowball unless you are intentional about correcting the course.
If you struggle to fight off negative thoughts and behaviors that are dragging you down, give my JOY strategy a try. JOY is three things you can immediately implement each morning to begin improving, first, your days and, eventually, your overall mood and outlook on life. Remember J-O-Y!
Recognize the fact that you have hit the jackpot each day that you are able to open your eyes and form clear thoughts. Start every day with gratitude and acknowledging that you’ve been given another opportunity to make some choices about your life. You’ve got another chance to get it right!
My favorite way to express gratitude is by making a list of three people, things, and/or circumstances I am grateful for in that moment. I do this daily, even if my list remains the same for many days. This works best if I write it down, but it took time to get to that point. Just thinking of the three works as well.
Bonus tip: If there is a person on my list, I will send them a quick message to let them know how much I appreciate them.
Make your output a reflection of your desired input. If you want to have a pleasant day, then be pleasant to those around you … beginning with yourself and those in your own household. Speak words of positivity, kindness, and success over your own life and everyone who touches your life. Kindness is contagious, and the world needs more of it. Two of my go-to positive outputs are daily affirmations and compliments for myself and those around me.
Positive affirmations, written and spoken, are great ways to build confidence. I have found that the more I practice this, the more positivity I see around me. There are even empowering affirmations in my favorite songs, and as goofy as I may sound, I even make them up myself sometimes.
My second favorite “output” exercise is to challenge myself to smile and give a sincere compliment to the first three people I see outside of my home. If you’re thinking it, you may as well say it. Think about the last time someone gave you a compliment out of the blue. How did that feel? There’s no denying you can change the trajectory of someone’s day with a kind word or deed.
Say yes to doing more of the things you enjoy doing so that your mind and spirit can rest.
This one has been a game changer for me. For many years I made the mistake of rewarding myself with things I wanted or places I wanted to go only “once the work was done.” Sometimes I still catch myself doing it. It’s been the hardest bad habit to break and the one I fall back into most often because, in actuality, the work of the stenographic court reporter is never done. The next day of writing is always on the horizon, and there is always another deposition, another hearing, another trial, another deadline looming … another chance to make a paycheck.
Let’s face it: We are a bunch of hamsters on a giant money-making, people-pleasing wheel. But we have to take the time to take care of our most valuable resource: Ourselves!
The best way to take care of yourself is to surround yourself with positivity, whatever that looks like for you. Positivity takes practice, but when you do it right, you’ll begin to have back-to-back days filled with rest, inspiration, and creativity. Other positive people will be attracted to you. Negative people will begin to keep their distance, and you will begin to be perfectly okay with that.
It’s hard to turn a bad day around; so if you’re in a vicious cycle of bad days, begin today with just one piece of the JOY strategy, practice it until it becomes second nature, and then add another piece of JOY. Before you know it, you will be in a fantastic cycle of great days and creating the life you deserve to live.
Kim Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, is an official and freelance court reporter and NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate holder. She is based in Arlington, Texas, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.