04/07/2009 02:26 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

3 Tips for Positive Living

And How to Tell Others What You Are

I'm all about positive thinking and positive attitude. It's what got me here, with my personal story from prison-to-poetry-to product development. You can read more about that in my previous post (and in my bio here.)

While not everyone has my wild life story, everyone is a hybrid of some kind. Yes, you are too. Pretty much we're all a mix of something. Maybe it's just not obvious to the outside world. Being a mutt is not always a racial or ethnic mix. Remember that the human condition is to have variety and multiplicity within.

Keep this in mind: Aren't we more than what we look like?

If you are multiracial, though, you know you've been asked a million times, "What are you?" Or if the askers are trying to be vague, and still pry, they'll say, "Where are you from?"

Do you answer, "Oh, I'm from the East Side," or "Down South," or "From Seattle"? I've tried that, even though I figured out what they meant right after they asked it.

We all know the real question that lurks is, "What the heck are you? What's the mix? What's the mish-mash?"

Well, if you don't know, what's to say? Many of us don't know all of our genetic ancestry. And if we do know, are we obligated to announce this to the world? I say we can tell others as much or as little as we want.

If your identity is questioned, try to smile and just say, "I'm from Earth," then grin an extra quarter inch and return the question. "And where are you from?"

Here's poet and playwright, Derek Alton Walcott's take on his ancestry of West Indian and mixed Black, Dutch, and English descent. From The Prodigal: A Poem:
I who am poisoned with the blood of both
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?

Poisoned? Yikes, that's gloomy. Sorry about that. This is supposed to be an uplifting blog. But hey, if Derek Walcott says it, then better ponder it. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

If this just sent you further into gloom, here's three tips to turn your day from doom to the boom of uplifted living.

Tip #1
Speak Up and Out

Speak out no matter what. And not only if you have an audience. If what you have to say matters, then your audience will gather. Just like blogging.

Especially if you think your voice won't be heard, that's an important time to speak up. Loud and clearly. You never know, someone might be listening.

Look what just happened after forty-three Presidents. Barack Obama spoke up, lots of times, and the U.S. of A. listened. All of the sudden, the air got lighter, the water tastes better. For most people, anyway.

Tip #2
Take the High Wire Walker Attitude

A good life is something akin to acrobatics. You might wobble, but do whatever you can to get to the other side.

Tightwire is the art of maintaining balance while walking along a tensioned wire between two points. Highwire is the same as tightwire but at much greater height. In French, it's called Funambule; Jultagi in Korean. In China, 'Dawazi' or high wire walking has a 430-year history.

Tightrope walkers sometimes use balancing poles and may perform their feat without a safety net. That adds to the excitement for us on-lookers! Just imagine the thrill on a wire 2100 feet over the Yangtze River. Wish that'd been me! I'm a thrill seeker from my core.

The biomechanics of high wire walking go something like this. Acrobats maintain balance by positioning their center of mass directly over their base of support. They shift most of their weight over their legs, arms or whatever part of their body holds them up during their act.

My point? Take the attitude of a high wire walker. It helps to look inside and find your center. Flex and flow, find a base of support, shift a little when needed, and hold on. It never helps to be rigid in life. Dig deep and seek balance. And don't wait four hundred and thirty years.

Tip #3
Explore your beliefs

Does this mean get out the dog sleds and hit the Antarctic tundra to explore like Ann Bancroft? Not exactly. Speaking of explorers, after two hundred years, don't you wonder if Chris Columbus might rise up from the dead one day to reclaim what he thought his rightful place in history as the "discoverer of America"? Think how mad he'd feel about losing his "gold medal."

Learn from this history. The only person who can really give you a gold medal is yourself. You decide what you want your legacy to be, not let it be set by others.

First, you have to believe in the value of yourself. It all starts there. Get to know what you believe in. Keep with the basics, and stay with ones that really matter. Family, health, good in the world. Discover your true beliefs, and then stand behind what you believe.

After that, give back to the world. Giving to others is much more fulfilling than yearning for more for yourself.

Think for a minute about all the things you might wish were different. How many times have you said to yourself, "I wish I..." You fill in the blanks.
• Had more time.
• Made more money.
• Could find a way out of this?

I wish, I wish, I wish. Enough of the me-me-me!

Just back up a minute. Aren't you lucky that you even have eyesight to read this? Or that you even know how to read? I'm being serious here. Approximately one billion adults in the world are illiterate. 26 percent of the world population. That's a fact, and a disturbing one.

Be grateful for what you have. Every day, take a moment to recall three things that you feel lucky for. And whatever you do in your life, take some time to be a "high wire walker" -- do something that thrills you -- and make sure you do it with as much gratitude as you can.

Along the way, please tutor a child in reading or an illiterate adult in your city.

And then get some thrill out of living.

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This is another Musing for Mutts Like Me.

Find me here:
Email: deborah.kjs [at] gmail [dot] com

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