Forty Things I Learnt Before Turning 40: Lesson Thirty-Two

Mitch Robertson
5 min readAug 21, 2021


I’ve learnt to use effort and energy wisely. A real mind shift moment for me was discovering the notion that like attracts like, contrary to the belief of opposites attracting. It’s something that my visit to a psychic medium and reading ‘The Secret’ revealed to me. It was this realisation that really affirmed to me one of my core values; optimism.

During the Covid-19 chaos, I watched the Global Citizens concert, where a range of my favourite music artists performed songs of hope or that inspired happiness with the aim of sparking a chain of positivity during the dark and trying time. Afterwards I saw that Kasey Musgraves reposted to Instagram the last line of her song ‘Rainbow’, “It’ll all be alright.” Someone commented, “Will it though Kacey?? Will it??” To which she replied “YES. Believe.” I absolutely loved the authority and conviction in her response, as I’m forever the optimist. I am always looking on the brighter side of life, searching for the silver lining and choosing to see/find the good in people or a situation, because — why not? Having faith is better than feeling hopeless right?

On this same day, I did a guided meditation using the Calm app, which ended with the thought to “Use effort wisely; that this is the path to true mental mastery.” It bought me back to Kacey’s reply on Instagram and my own philosophy or approach to life, about focussing on the good or positives around us and how we need to be mindful of what we choose to put our effort into. We could easily put effort into hurting or bringing others (sometimes even ourselves) down, but what will that yield? I believe effort is better spent on being positive, seeking solutions rather than catastrophising problems.

One of the first Principals I worked with in a school, gave me a piece of advice that I still carry to this day. “Don’t come to me with a problem if you haven’t also come with a solution.” I’ve always kept this in the back of my head and has definitely promoted a solutions based approach to challenges in life.This assists with avoiding the overwhelming feeling of drowning or falling into a downward spiral of negativity and having more control and faith of overcoming difficulties.

Brene Brown puts it very simply when she says, “You are responsible for the energy you bring into the room.” It’s something I’m very conscious of daily, especially at school and in the classroom with my students and colleagues. I figure, the most effective way to lead and foster learning is through positivity. You are more likely to learn if you have faith in your abilities. Whether it’s in or out of the classroom I choose to lead with optimism, adopting a faith that things will work out and become better when a positive energy is used.

I have to say that this positive attitude has taken work and wasn’t always something I harnessed. I remember in the early days of Facebook a friend commented on one of my status updates, “It’s Facebook, not Whingebook.” I was really shocked and taken a back, but then when I reviewed my previous posts, I could see I was complaining about all sorts of things; the weather, traffic, situations at work. This comment was a huge slap in the face and a wake up call for me. I didn’t want to be thought of as a whinger or someone who focussed on negatives.

From this moment, I really worked hard on changing that mindset and what I chose to focus my energy on. So I began to establish daily habits of positive thinking. One of which, was at the start of the day, when I got out of bed in the morning, for each step I took, saying a word, “I. Am. Grateful. For. Today.” Or some other positive affirmation to start the day. Then at the end of each day, before going to sleep, recounting three things I was grateful for from the day. They could be simple things, like getting all greenlights on my way home from work, to bigger things like getting tickets to a concert. Over time, I started to find I was able to attract more positive things in my day to day life. But in reality, they were probably always there, I had just trained my mind to notice them more.

A book that helped put me on the path of positivity is Esther Hick’s ‘Ask and it is Given.’ In it she says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. The only way to consciously deactivate a thought is to activate another. In other words, the only way to deliberately withdraw your attention from one thought is to give your attention to another.”

An Instagram post I saw recently from Prince EA really highlights the importance of choosing wisely what you focus on. He says, “If I had to narrow down the single most important factor that determines how a person’s life turns out…it would be ‘Input.’ In other words, everything you put into your mind will determine the result of your life. When I say “everything,” I mean “EVERYTHING.” Protect and guard what you allow into your mind as if you life depends on it…because it does.”

It can be hard to remember that there is always good in any situation and it takes practice and effort to do so. But I’ve found that it’s worth it. And when you practice finding the positives during those smooth sailing days, it makes it easy to identify them during the difficult times that inevitably will come along. Kacey Musgrave’s song ‘Rainbow’ is a true reminder of that.

’Cause the sky has finally opened
The rain and wind stopped blowin’
But you’re stuck out in the same ol’ storm again
You hold tight to your umbrella
Well, darlin’, I’m just tryin’ to tell ya
That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head