The Power of Practicing Positivity with Clay O’Brien Cooper
Clay O'Brien Cooper on striving to be more successful and enjoying what you do during the journey.

Early on in our youth, we all tend to be optimistically minded. At that stage of life, the world is new, everything’s an adventure and we’re wanting to embrace each new stage of life, in part because we perceive the changes as freedom. There’s an excitement and enthusiasm for life, and our brains work in a positive way.

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That’s how I was until I hit my first burnout, which came once I’d achieved my goal of winning world championships, had kids and a place to pay for. My mind started to change the way I looked at what I do for a living. Roping turned into work and became a grind, and I kind of lost that youthful exuberance of optimistically looking at life.

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It was through God, good people and searching for how to get that optimism back that I finally realized it was something I had to work on. People get stuck in a rut where they’re no longer looking at the glass as half full, and start seeing it as half empty. It’s just a stage of life most people go through. But you have to turn it back around, and get up in the morning with the intent of looking at life positively. Reset your goals, and choose to be happy.

Negativity creeps up on us if we aren’t careful, and it’s easy to fall into bad habits that are not productive. But if we get up with joy in our hearts and make a daily game plan from a perspective of excited, energetic optimism, we can go after our goals with a go-get-’em attitude. What I’ve found is if I don’t make a point of doing this intentionally, it doesn’t get done. It takes work to live life with intent and purpose, but it’s worth it.

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I’ve noticed that successful people seem to have boundless energy and positive attitudes. Part of that comes from them creating the daily habit of getting up with goals and happily going about achieving them. Having a life and career that’s fun for you is a pretty great reward in itself. This mindset has opened my eyes to enjoying the little things, including working on my horses and my roping.

Walking through each day with this outlook also helps me realize that positive people are such a gift. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve sort of eliminated negative people and gravitated more toward the positive ones. No one wants to be dragged down.

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As ropers, there is so much to be grateful for in our walk of life. We get out in nature with cattle and horses, and work on all aspects of our performance in a pretty cool setting. These days, I find myself thanking God a lot at the end of each day for another great day, even if it was a pretty simple one. A positive mindset helps me see the good, pull out the richness of what I get to experience and really just soak it all in.

A positive attitude has helped me be happy through this unprecedented time, where the coronavirus kind of shut the world down. I’ve been having a ball working with my horses and trying new things with my roping. I’ve enjoyed the simple routine of my days, and the fact that I’m so fortunate to get to do what I love.

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As team ropers, we’re all so driven and always striving to improve and be successful. We’ve all been grounded recently, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I haven’t looked at staying home as a hardship. I’ve looked at it as a blessing, and have felt happy and productive. We all want to strive for more and be successful, myself included. Results are what I’m looking for, too. Let’s not forget to enjoy the ride and recognize that the journey is a big blessing in itself.

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