Making lemonade out of life’s lemons

My grandparents used to make the best lemonade. It was the first thing I grabbed from the fridge when I got to their house, right alongside the leftover pasta, a staple in that kitchen. Everything tastes better at grandma’s, right? But this lemonade was just my favorite thing.

Lemonade is sweet. And delicious. Savory. Perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day. But it comes from something very, very sour. So sour it can hurt the inside of your mouth if you’re not careful. How can something so sweet, come from something so sour? I know basic chemistry: add sugar. But in our daily lives, we can’t take a mean word said to us or a failure or a rejection from a loved one – all sour experiences – and just pour sugar or fairy dust on them to make them better. Sprinkling sugar or fairy dust on any of those things would create a mess and attract ants, neither of which would make the situation better.

So how can we do it? How can take something that turns our mood sour, into a smile?

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. –Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things. –Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Fill your head with the truth. You’re going to have to work pretty hard for it, but it’s your own sanity, your own emotional wellness you’re fighting for.

The best way I have found to turn your sourness into sweetness – through myself, my students, my friends, my family, and even through the counseling theory I find to be most useful – is turning your thoughts toward the truth. Toward things which are noble, pure, lovely. Things that are to be praised and celebrated.

Practical application:
– Put post-it notes or index cards around your home, etched with Bible verses, song lyrics, quotes or mantras, permanently planting these good and true thoughts in your mind.
– Call on a friend, and speak out loud the sourness you’re experiencing. Speaking it releases it from its dual residence in your heart and mind, and gives you and your friend room to fill those now-empty spaces with the sweetness.

Sometimes life is one big dish of perfectly baked chocolate chip cookies. Perfectly sweet, all ingredients perfectly proportioned, not one crumb out of place. And when life is like that, it’s easy to see the sweet side of life because we’re a living, breathing example of it.

But sometimes life is one big bowl of lemons. Sour. Unappealing. Unappetizing. We have to work extra hard to turn it around. But it’s worth it. Oh, how it’s worth it. Living in a positive state of mind has been linked to improved physical health, better relationships, and a higher satisfaction with life in general. The folks at Happify can tell you more, but I love this research because it proves that being peppy or joyful isn’t some fluffy thing that unaware, naïve individuals force down other people’s throats. Joy and pep are under the same state of mind: Positive Thinking, worth living under for the myriad of benefits it offers your life.

Complaining about the sourness is easy. And you’ll throw a stone farther than you’ll have to go to find someone to help you justify your complaint. But life’s lemonade is so much sweeter, so much more refreshing. And worth the effort.

May you experience a sweetness of life today.

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