It was a hushed morning.
My six family members were sound asleep, taking full advantage of “there’s-no-need-for-an-alarm-cuz-we’re-on-vacation” time. I would have loved to take advantage of “sleeping in” myself, but my body had a different plan that morning, waking me at the first sign of sunlight.
“Oh well,” I thought as I fought through a yawn with a good ‘ole morning stretch. “That just means I can capitalize on some silence and solitude.”
I grabbed my Bible, book, and a warm cup of coffee, and I made my way to the patio deck overlooking the ocean. It was my favorite spot in the AirBnB flat we had rented for our stay in Puerto Vallarta. I never grew tired of the expanse of ocean it put on display.
After settling into the comfy lounge chair, my eyes devoured the light pink and orange painted skies that kissed the blue-toned mountains in the distant shoreline. As I watched seagulls glide effortlessly over the powerful, churning sea below, I heard the glass door quietly slide open behind me.
I turned to watch a groggy Sean (my husband) claim a seat next to me, steamy cup of coffee in hand.
“Another rainy day,” he pointed out as he looked out into the sky.
“Oh, yeah. I guess it is.” I noted.
It was indeed raining. Yet again.
But up until that moment, I hadn’t even noticed.
A Trip to Prove: Life’s Not All Sunshine & Rainbows
You know the saying, “Life is not all sunshine and rainbows”??
Well, my family’s 2nd Annual Vondross family trip last week served as indisputable evidence to validate this argument.
Let me explain.
The Vondross side of my family recently picked up a new tradition of traveling during February to escape winter for a beat and spend some quality time together in a fun (and warm) location.
This year’s destination: Puerto Vallarta.
We had picked this spot intentionally, hoping to soak in some rays of sun to help dissolve away our winter blues.
Unfortunately, the weather gods were against us this year. Rather than being graced by Puerto Vallarta’s usual sunny weather (the norm, this time of year), we were instead offered up cloudy (and sometimes rainy) days.
The weather was a far-cry from the “ideal” beach weather we had hoped for. And the lack of sun and smashed expectations provided the perfect opportunity to make for a pretty crummy vacation.
However, while we would have all preferred to our trip to be filled with plenty of sunshine, we still ended up having a wonderful time, despite the gray weather.
We managed to do so by taking advantage of some, what I like to call, rainbow thinking.
Embrace the Rainbow (Thinking)
Rainbow thinking? What the heck is that?
Well, rainbow thinking is an adopted mindset that’s set on seeking out the rainbow rather than focusing on the rain. It stems from a phrase I love to latch onto when confronted by gloomy days:
“If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”Dolly Parton
The truth is, we can’t control the storms of life: whether they hit, when they take place, or how harsh they are, or how long they’ll last.
We can’t control the storms. However, we can control how we ride out the storms.
Rainbow thinking helps us think and see in color, despite all the gray that may surround us.
For example, during my time on the balcony last week (which I referenced above), I hadn’t even noticed it was raining…before Sean pointed out the obvious.
I hadn’t noticed, because I was focused on the wonderful gifts the morning had to offer: the crashing waves, the beautiful ocean, the calming bird calls, the peace and quiet with God…just to name a mere handful.
My perspective at that time was focused on what I was thankful for, which distracted me from what was negative about the situation.
Would I have eventually noticed it was raining on my own?
But the point is, that wasn’t what I was focused on. If I had been, I think my experience would have been much, much different that morning.
Seek out the Rainbow, Don’t Focus on the Rain
When faced with stormy circumstances, it can be tempting to focus on how we wish things were different.
It may feel natural (and justified!) to complain about how things are not living up to our expectations or standards.
On our vacation, for example, my family and I felt tempted to stay stuck on the fact that the weather sucked. Man, how we craved some sunshine.
But, we were intent on making the best of the situation. We couldn’t control the weather, but we could control our attitudes.
Instead of being a bunch of Debby Downer complainers the entire time, my family and I opted to find ways to have fun together, despite the rain. We didn’t allow some unideal weather rain on our parade and steal from our experience together.
This “seek out the rainbow, don’t focus on the rain” approach is something I have learned to adopt in my everyday life.
I noticed how complaining about the storms in life never, ever serves me.
“This sucks, this isn’t fair” kind of thinking never adds any value to my life, nor does it change the circumstances I’m up against. If anything, complaining and having a “Negative Nelly” attitude only detracts from my experience and sucks the joy right out of my day.
Rainbow thinking, on the other hand, helps me flip the script when I notice my mind turning dark.
Stormy thoughts serve as a cue to remind myself, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Rather than focusing on how much I hate the rainy circumstances…
Instead of pouting about my situation and how I wish it were sunny…
I resolutely decide to throw off my selfish self-pity and seek God’s help to take on a positive, uplifted spirit and perspective.
- I embrace curiosity, asking God what He may use the cloudy circumstances to teach, grow, or change me
- I take hold of hopeful expectation, knowing God may grant me a rainbow in all this rain
- I pull on a positive outlook, determining to focus on the good in the stormy situation vs. complaining about how much I hate the clouds
It’s not always easy to see in rainbow-colored vision. And quite frankly, it’s not always something I feel like doing when I’m in the eye of the storm.
But, in my experience, I’ve found seeking out the rainbow is always the path to contentment, joy, and peace.
Put On Rainbow-Colored Glasses
Rainbow thinking helps us make the best of circumstances that at face-value can seem pretty terrible.
And it also helps us break through stormy thoughts that may be circling in our own minds.
I don’t know about you, but some days I can feel extremely weighed down by critical thoughts.
- The demands of the day ahead seem overwhelming (or uninspiring)
- I don’t like what I see in the mirror
- I feel unqualified for the challenges God has for me
- I catastrophize fears about the days ahead
You get the picture.
I find if I allow my thoughts to wander as they please, they can take me in a pretty terrible direction. The stories they tell me can sound sad and depressing, such as, “No one likes me, I’m so ugly, I’m such a mess, I never win.”
A cacophony of stormy thoughts like these can darken our days. If we allow these scripts to replay over and over in our minds, we’ll begin seeking out evidence to support these downcast perspectives.
We’ll begin to see only rain and miss out on seeing those beautiful rainbows.
Friend, this is why it’s so important to take on some rainbow thinking.
We experience what we seek.
- If we’re focused on how gloomy the weather is, we’ll find evidence to support our misery.
- If we’re zoomed in on what we don’t like about ourselves, we’ll feel like we’re not enough and don’t measure up.
Rainbow thinking, however, provides us with the opportunity to tear our eyes off of the negative thoughts or circumstances and intentionally set our sights on the good.
We Can Choose to See Past the Gloom
Friend, each day has joy to be found.
Even on rainy days, we have a choice: we can complain about the rain or we can opt to remember that we can’t have rainbows without the rain.
So, Friend, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a storm, put on your Warrior Face.
Turn your eyes up, stand tall, and say with conviction,
“Game on! It may be cloudy today, but I know there is a joy to be found today. So, I’m gonna seek out that joy-filled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just watch me!”
Take on this Warrior stance and refuse to allow the storms of life to cloud your thoughts.
Don’t let a little rain spoil how you experience your days. Set your sights on God and ask Him to change your perspective about the rain.
Because there’s a rainbow somewhere in that rainy situation, Friend.
You just need to be willing to seek it out.
To help you embrace rainbow thinking in the days to come, I encourage you to try this challenge on for size.
It’s a daily exercise to help you 1) set your mind straight first thing in the morning, 2) reset your thoughts mid-day, and 3) realign your mind at the end of the day.
SET IT STRAIGHT (AM ACTION STEP)
Set your thinking in the right direction first thing in the morning.
Before rolling out of bed, name 3 things you are grateful for.
When we are focused on gratitude, it helps train our minds to seek out the good, rather than focus on the bad.
RESET (MID-DAY ACTION STEP)
Take a 5 minute pause mid-day (for example, over your lunch break) to ask yourself, “How is my thought-life going?”
Tune into yourself and ask yourself some questions, such as: “What have I been thinking about? Do I need to make any adjustments?”
Reestablish a mindset that’s grounded in truth. Decide to have a positive approach to the remainder of the day, despite whatever challenges you’re up against.
REALIGN (PM ACITON STEP)
At the end of the day, realign your mind with truth-filled, positive thinking by acknowledge 3 wins from the day.
These acknowledgements don’t need to be huge wins. The small things still count.
Even if your day was pretty crummy, there are still wins to be acknowledged. For example, maybe you didn’t kill the presentation at work (maybe it even flopped). But, perhaps you can still acknowledge (and applaud yourself for) the fact that you showed up and learned something valuable.