Max Curtin ‘21 is a global commerce and economics double major with a Spanish minor from Manchester, New Hampshire.

MAX CURTIN, Editor-in-Chief—A positive attitude can make all the difference.

I’ll be the first to admit that I let things get to me way too much. I think a lot of us are guilty of this. Especially on the types of days where it seems like every little thing that could possibly go wrong does just that.

For me, it can be as simple as beating myself up over a bad test grade, or just dreading a rough patch of looming upcoming major assignments. Or — more often — I get caught up in trying to find the perfect balance between schoolwork, social life and my own self care. We all know the feeling. Realistically speaking, there’s never enough time for everything. It’s all about striking a healthy balance between everything, whatever that means for you.

But what I’ve realized is that the mental scope through which I view things in my life can actually completely shift everything for me. Namely, I can minimize stress, which is something I am always looking to do.

I can’t speak to how this works for anyone else, so I’ll go ahead and explain the kind of steps I take to maintain a positive attitude during times of adversity. Mind you, it’s one of those things that is way easier said than done. It’s also something I am very much still working on.

I’ll use the example of balancing work with my social life at Denison. This semester in particular has tested me far more than any other before — here are my three steps

Step One: Realize when I’m upset about something

This is a lot harder to do than it sounds. It’s actually really difficult for me to accept that something is getting to me, especially when I know that it’s avoidable. Admitting to myself that I’m upset about something allows me to prevent the snowballing effect I alluded to at the beginning of the article during those days where everything seems to go wrong.

Once I admitted to myself that I had become really stressed out about my social balance this semester, I actually felt significantly better right away. It sounds ridiculous, I know. But it’s true. Recognizing the issue removed a huge weight from my shoulders and allowed me to start actively working to fix the problem.

Step Two: Give myself perspective on the issue

It can really as simple as rationalizing the situation and understanding that the absolute worst-case scenario really isn’t all that bad. Often times, I have the tendency to blow things out of proportion before I have taken the time to work through things.

What’s the worst case scenario when dealing with balancing work and social life? Well, it’s twofold. For me, it’s a matter of my grades slipping or feeling distant from the people in my life that are really important to me. While neither of these options are ideal, they’re also not worth getting even more upset about. The times I feel the worst are when I fail to take this step and step away from the issue to gain some perspective, and to remember how small of an issue it really is in the grand scheme of things.

Step Three: Find a reason to smile

The absolute worst thing I can do is dwell over something, and yet I find myself doing exactly that. Constantly. Why is that? This step actually has nothing to do with addressing the issue itself; quite the opposite actually. By finding something else to smile about, I can remove myself from getting caught up in whatever it may be that I’m upset about.

The people around me give me every reason to smile. It’s just a matter of me taking the time to open myself up to them when I feel like shutting them out. Again, much easier said than done.

This is what works for me, at least most of the time. Find a system that works for you, because life is so much easier when we allow ourselves reasons to smile.

Max Curtin ‘21 is a global commerce and economics double major with a Spanish minor from Manchester, New Hampshire.