I was saying at the end of my last post how useful it is to take time out on a regular basis to count one’s blessings, that being positive brings its own benefits, and this week I’d like to expand on that theme. Positive, hopeful, constructive thoughts move us forward, whereas negativity keeps us prisoner, stifles growth and poisons relationships.
Relentless negativity is wearing and destructive. In its presence, I tend to feel either a deadening sense of inertia and enervation or an urge to run away and escape the negative force: people who endlessly complain are hard to be around. As I’ve mentioned before, during my depression I lost a few friends. At the time, I was full of resentment but now I understand it wasn’t so much that they didn’t think I was worth the effort but that the weight of my negativity was just too much for them to bear.
Negativity breeds negativity; there is no doubt about that. However, it’s an annoying fact that positivity does not always breed positivity – or at least not as directly. What I’m trying to say is that bad things will always happen, whether we’re negative or not. I’ve lost friends during periods of my life when I was blooming as well as when I was depressed. When I’ve been applying for jobs over the decades, if I went into the interview feeling negative, convinced in advance that I was going to be rejected, guess what? They didn’t want me. But the times I’ve known I was perfect for the position and I’d love working there, I was turned away too. A negative attitude will practically always yield negative results, while a positive attitude will only sometimes yield positive results. It’s easier to destroy something than it is to build it.
This doesn’t mean it’s fruitless to be positive – far from it – but it does mean we need to take a broader view when it comes to looking at the outcome. If we don’t get what we want, it may be that we need to put a bit more effort into striving for it. It’s a cliché to talk about success being sweeter after a hard slog, but clichés don’t get to be clichés without having some truth and wisdom to them. Alternatively, it may be that what we think we want is actually not in our best interest. This is definitely the case for me with those jobs; I am so much happier being self-employed!
Between “Try harder/Don’t give up” and “It wasn’t meant to be/Things work out for the best” is another fruit of a positive attitude, which is learning from failure and strokes of bad luck and turning them to our advantage. As I’ve already said, bad things will always happen and no amount of positive thinking is going to change that. But we can change how we react, how we cope, what we choose to take from it.
One way to stay positive is to remember that, to a great extent, people see what they’re expecting to see. If you’re viewing life through a dark, gloomy veil, what you perceive will most likely be negative. On the other hand, once you tear down that veil and let in the light and warmth of the sun, suddenly the world looks more cheerful. I know this sounds trite but it’s based in scientifically proven fact and borne out by my experience. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon whereby, for example, if somebody close to you is expecting a baby, suddenly every third woman seems to be pregnant. Obviously, the birth rate isn’t shooting up; it’s just that your eyes have been opened to pregnancy, where before you didn’t notice. If you’re looking out for negativity, your senses will always be overloaded with it. Conversely, if you tune into positivity, you’ll experience much more of it than you did before.
Focusing on the positive makes life appear better. Since reality is so subjective, if we feel life is good because we’re looking at in a positive way, surely that means life is good? Certainly this has been my experience. On paper, my life is the same as it was five years ago, yet it feels completely different. Then I was struggling, miserable, stuck. Now I’m thriving, happy, purposeful. Nothing has changed except my perspective but, my goodness, my life is transformed.