In the past several weeks I have been reminded several times about the impact of positive and negative influences on our lives. It can be heard in conversations and seen on peoples faces. It can even be recognized, to some extent, in e-mail and text conversations. We have all experienced the effect of being around someone that has a tremendous positive attitude. They are uplifting and motivational to others around them. These are the people most of us enjoy being around just because of the way they make us feel inside. And, we have all experienced being around negative people. They usually surround themselves with drama and tend to suck the enjoyment out of life. We usually feel emotionally drained after even a short conversation with them.
In my short 58 years on this earth, I have learned from both education and personal experience that it is much easier to be a person with a negative attitude than a positive one. It can take real effort at first to keep a positive attitude and outlook on life. This is not to say that you should never have a down day or even a period in your life that is not pleasant. Life happens and can create significant stress and unhappiness for all of us. The loss of a job can cause significant stress and unhappiness. The loss of a loved one can cause a prolonged period of sadness. However, events such as these don’t need to control our overall outlook on life. We can still maintain a positive and upbeat attitude in spite of the loss or pain around us if we choose to. And, it is a choice for most of us. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. For those that may not have the ability to maintain a positive attitude, professional counseling is available to help resolve issues.
The big question is; How do you create and maintain a positive attitude? The first step is to recognize that you don’t have a positive attitude. If you consistently find the bad or negative in every situation, rarely smile, rarely if ever believe in the best in people or rarely have a kind word to say about anyone or anything, you probably have a negative attitude. If, on the other hand, you can see the bright side of most situations, often smile, regularly give compliments and usually see the best in people, you probably have a positive attitude.
If you determine that you have a negative attitude and want to make some changes in your life, here are some simple options to consider. Some of the changes are internal and some of the changes are external. The internal changes start with a change of mindset and rather than looking for problems, recognize the good (or potential good) in people or situations. Another common recommendation is to start the day with an attitude of gratitude. Nothing has a greater impact than starting out your day being thankful for what you have. If you don’t initially see anything to be thankful for, be thankful for the little things in your life. Or, consider being thankful for the challenges you are facing that will be making you stronger and wiser in the days, weeks or months to come.
External changes can be just as challenging. It is important to recognize and acknowledge external negative forces in your life. It could mean changing jobs if you are unhappy with what you are doing for a living or whom you are working for. It could mean removing “friends” that put an emotional drain on your life. It could also mean that you have to distance yourself from family if they are a significant negative influence in your life. While you should never want to intentionally hurt someone, you may need to distance yourself from those that are inflicting physical or emotional harm on you.
Changing from a negative to a positive attitude takes work and a lot of focus at first. Sometimes this is a minute by minute and hour by hour effort. As you progress the effort needed will be less and less. Vigilance must be maintained though because of the ease with which you can slip back into the negative mindset.
The big payoff of a positive attitude is the ability to lead a happier, more enjoyable life. Be the positive influence in someone’s life today! Share a smile or a kind word with everyone you meet.
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