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Positive thinking proves to be powerful personal ally

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As 2011 began, I knew I had some tough personal choices to make immediately to start off the year. These choices were life-altering and I knew I needed to find a way to gain the strength through the effects of these choices.

Enter positive thinking.

I knew the choices I was making were going to require a positive attitude as a result of positive thinking. It's a process I've gone with through much of my life and it's proven to work for me.

For example, early in my life, I made a decision that the people I associate with on a daily basis would be good for me. Someone once told me, "If you surround yourself with good people, you will do good things." In many ways, that statement has held true, but there is more.

When I joined the military 19 years ago, positive thinking helped get me through basic training and technical school successfully. It helped me get set up at my first base overseas after I was newly married and as I became a father of four.

As life grew for me, positive thinking also helped me become more confident in my abilities to do my job as an Airman. I believe it has helped me in being a good supervisor to my Airmen and has aided me in setting an example that if you "look at the bright side" of life and work hard, good things will happen.

Now I can truthfully say there have been plenty of times where I wasn't feeling so "positive." As a matter of fact, there have been many times where life got tough, but in the end, it took a positive attitude and some support from the positive people I surrounded myself with, and I got through it.

My wife, for example, provides a positive influence every day. If I am acting or saying something that seems negative, she'll sometimes say, "What's wrong Mr. Negativity?" The statement often triggers a laugh from me because I know she is sending me a message. The second I hear that, I know I'm traveling down a not-so-positive path and need to change my attitude.

At any time, you can go on the Internet and search "positive thinking" and you'll get all kinds of how-to guides on positive thinking and related information. But I can tell you, first hand, that taking the "high road" and doing what you think is right "positively" will affect your life.

I also believe positive thinking fits in with being a more "resilient" person. When you have a positive attitude, the "tough and scary" things you face in life just seem a bit easier to deal with. To prove this, I'll give you another example.

Recently, my family and I went on a three-day road trip that ended up being just over a 1,000-mile round trip. On the first half of the trip, we were towing a trailer behind our vehicle. Toward the end of that leg of the trip, the trailer broke down.

For most people traveling, a broken trailer on a road trip can be a big problem. We just took the "positive" approach to dealing with the issue at hand. Once the problem was realized, I went to work to get it fixed and wouldn't you know it, a person I never met before stopped to help me get it fixed. Within a couple of hours, we were back on the road to our destination and I had a new friend. In all, a bad situation turned into a positive experience.

On our second leg of that road trip on the way home, we ran into bad weather. And not just any weather. We went from clear skies to blizzard conditions to freezing rain to black ice on the roadways back to clear conditions. Accidents were everywhere! Through the entire time the driving was stressful but we knew if we took our time, measured our risks and kept a positive attitude, we'd be just fine, and we were.

I can give you many, many more examples, such as how being positive has gotten my family and me through seven overseas deployments and the after-effects of what I've gone through following those deployments. I also could tell you stories of how it has helped me to help other people. The bottom line is that thinking positive has been a powerful personal ally in my life.

Those "tough choices" I mentioned before were just that, tough. In early February I had knee surgery for the first time. At the same time, I decided to stop smoking.

Weeks later, my knee is healing well and I am smoke-free for the first time in nearly a decade. Most of all, I am happy I have made those choices, and thanks to positive thinking, there is no bounds to what I believe I can do.

In your life, I encourage you to think about thinking positive. It helps me every day to the best in my service to my country, to my family, and most importantly, to myself.