I believe there are naturally positive people and naturally negative people. I have been told by others that I am a positive person. I have no formal education regarding ‘how to be positive’ – merely my personal observations in life. My first real teacher on how to be more positive was my friend Katherine. Many years ago when her son was a toddler, she observed how he would get easily frustrated when something he was trying to figure out didn’t work. I’m sure you’ve all witnessed small children throw some inanimate toy and say, “Stupid _______”. She would instantly pick up the toy and say, “Darling, the toy isn’t stupid. Here, let’s try this again.” It was through observing Katherine with her son that I started to frame my awareness of how we all have negative and positive thoughts about daily activities; and it’s how we approach those activities that will shape our attitude, our beliefs and our ultimate success.
Many of us, by nature, think of the negative first. That’s okay, if we’re aware of it. In fact, negative thinking can keep us out of trouble. In a stressful situation, it’s very likely the first thoughts will be either negative or emotional. Those are ‘self protection’ thoughts and they are not bad thoughts. If, however, one is stuck in those thoughts; the results are unlikely to be positive. If we’re aware of it, then we can consciously turn it off and think about the situation positively. We’ve all lain in bed at night reliving some mishap of the day. The secret is to recognize that you’ve got this never-ending Ferris wheel happening in your thoughts and to mentally tell yourself to stop.
If you cannot think positively about that particular situation then try thinking of something else….and keep doing it. For some people saying prayers helps – saying thanks for the positive things that happened in your day and perhaps asking for some guidance with unresolved issues. My friend Elizabeth, a staunch atheist, would say that if you fall asleep thinking about all of the aspects (both positive and negative) of a problem, you will wake up in the morning with potential solutions. She believed that your brain worked through the problem as you slept.
In my years working as a consultant, our focus was on positive and negative language that affects the reaction of the listener. This is relevant with everyone. If you think negatively, you will likely speak negatively. If you speak negatively, you will likely get a negative reaction. Let me give you a simple example. As consultants, we listened to hundreds of telephone calls. We found that many company reps were saying, “You have to mail us the form.” Often, the reaction was negative. “Why should I have to do that?”, or “How long will it take?” or “Why can’t you just issue the cheque?” We suggested to this particular company that they’d have less resistance if they said, “If you mail us the form, we can issue the cheque right away.” Bingo. The resistance was minimal. People didn’t “have to” do anything and they understood the benefit immediately.
We may or may not have control over what happens to us. We do, however, have control over how we react. Only you have the power create happiness. Maybe that happiness will come from changing your own situation. Maybe it will come from helping others change theirs. Likely you won’t be able to master your personal challenge on your own. Over the last five years, I have had the good fortune of many positive friends and professionals who made my journey easier. I have surrounded myself with positive people. I continue to surround myself with positive people. Build your own support network of positive people. Whatever your journey is, know that you can be strong and that there are others out there who will help you.