Farm stress: Your today will define tomorrow


We’re reminded of the negative side of farming at every turn right now: in the milk check envelope, at the livestock sale barn, in our checkbooks, at the lenders.

Kind of reminds me of the saying: “If you can’t complain, you can’t farm!”

But dwelling on the dark side won’t help brighten your situation. We need to be realistic, yes, but we need to maintain a positive attitude now more than ever. That’s because negative thinking saps the very life out of you.

There was a goofy song we used to sing at summer camp: “Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, stay on the s unny side of life. Yee-haw! And you’ll suffer no pain, as we drive you insane, just stay on the sunny side of life.” At which point you broke into a knock-knock joke, then bounced back to the now-annoying chorus.

Grain market guru Marlin Clark reminded us of that sunny side in his column last week (“Winter blues with Sgt. Schultz market” Feb. 26, 2009), quoting Robert Browning: “God’s in his Heaven — All’s right with the world!”

It’s not easy to find those silver linings, but they’re there. A man’s son joined the military and missed many holidays and family gatherings because of his deployment. Talking to his son, the man said, “I’m sure you’re disappointed that you can’t be here.”

“Dad, I’m disappointed,” the son replied, “but I’m learning, in the Army, you don’t gripe about the pitching, you hit what comes across the plate.”

Even on the most difficult days, we need to hit what comes across the plate. To focus on what we can do, not worry about what we can’t. We need to step up to the plate believing that what we do matters, because it does. That belief, that optimism, and even a little forced enthusiasm will be enough to lift you.

Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say, “Today is going to be a good day.” (Even if the first week it comes out of your mouth as: “Today is going to be a good day … for someone else.” Eventually, you’ll drop the last three words.)

Remember that there is a sunny side, a flip side. “I’m glad the tire blew here rather than on that big hill.” “My knee aches this morning, but I can still get around.” Or, as the saying goes, enjoy the scenery on the detour.

When things are gloomy, it seems like even the little things are magnified into disasters. Find those who are positive and spend more time with them, their energy will be contagious. Spend more time with your loved ones and family, even if it’s via e-mail or phone call. Friends and family are your support system — use them. If you try to carry your burdens by yourself, sooner or later, the load will become unbearable.

I close with this recent note from Farm and Dairy readers LeRoy and Sara Ann Yoder of Illinois, who served as a reminder to me that we should always choose to be positive:

“We are hoping for a better year in 2009,” the Yoders write. “Isn’t that the farmers’ way of life? Always on the positive side that things will get better.”

To that, I add “amen.”

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