Why is it that many people think to be positive means to live in a world of "fluffy clouds" where everything goes right and there are never any problems? For this, as we all know, is rubbish. The world simply is not like that. Problems happen; people make mistakes; we screw up at times; as the saying goes s*** happens.
It means to live a life where you seek the best in any situation. It means recognising that bad things happen but they don't have to stop us living and being who we want to be.
Take a look at this excerpt from Barbara Fredrickson's book "positivity"....
"The morning sun streams through your bedroom window and wakes you from a fitful night's sleep. After a long string of grey and rainy days, you appreciate seeing blue sky; but soon enough you realise the alarm didn't go off. You're disappointed because you've been meaning to wake up extra early so you can have time to yourself before the kids wake up and the morning race begins. With what little time there is, you decide to skip your planned exercise routine, spend some more time in bed and write in your journal......
I can't believe I let myself down again by forgetting to set my alarm. How am i ever going to take charge of my days (and my life!) if I can't make this simple change? Without exercise, I'm going to feel like a slug today. Ugh. I'd better focus on why I write in this journal in the first place: to think about my larger goals and connect them to what I do each day. Is this really working? is it worth my time when I could be sleeping? what I really should be doing with this extra time is checking for fires on e-mail or reviewing my ridiculously long to-do list. Isn't our water bill past due? Where is it anyway?
At this point you get out of bed, go to your computer and open your e-mail; discover that a co-worker needs input from you before she can submit her proposal, and she needs it by this afternoon. You'll be stuck preparing material for her all morning.... and so on and so on. Things go from bad to worse as you rush to get the kids to school, drop them off late, arrive late to work feel suspicious of everyone, that you just know they are talking about you behind your back, colleagues who smile at you raise your suspicions - why are they smiling? what do they know that I don't? you respond negatively to any attempt to cheer you up and snap at your friends and boss. Could this day get any worse?
Does any of this sound familiar? If you are like most people you probably recognise this kind of morning all too well and the negative thought patterns of:
Before we know it negativity has invaded all your self talk and your judgments. It bleeds into your relationships and exchanges with your children, partner, work colleagues and friends. Making matters worse, unchecked negativity breeds health damaging negative emotions - anger, contempt and depression - that seep into your entire body. You can feel your simmering bitterness eating away at your stomach, raising your blood pressure and turning your shoulder and neck muscles to stone. Even your face feels hard and tight, which may be why others steer clear if they can.
So let's roll back time and do a retake of that same morning, this time with positivity....
"you wake up to the morning light streaming through your bedroom window, feeling well rested. You notice your alarm didn't go off. You're disappointed because you meant to wake extra early so you could have time to yourself before the kids wake up. You look out the window and think oh well, at least it looks like the weather's going to be beautiful. Your disappointment melts, I've got a little time to myself. You decide to skip your planned exercise routine and go straight to your journal. You write:
My body must have known I was oversleeping and woke me up so I can take care of myself. I'll need to be creative about fitting in today's exercise....I know, I'll go over to the park during work and take a power walk. This new journal has been so important to me. It gives me the space to reflect on what's working well in my life - to feel grateful for all I have. It helps me keep perspective on my larger goals - making a difference with my work, helping me be more loving to my family.
You spend the next ten minutes writing about why you work. Just then your youngest daughter, who is nearly four years old, wakes and calls for you. You wonder what she needs and go to her and give her a long good morning hug and kiss. She tells you she has missed you.
The morning routine is always tight on time, but you're finding that when you come to it calm and well rested it goes much better. When you arrive at work you see your email asking for your input - you decide to invite your colleague who has asked for the help to join you on your power walk so you can give her the information she needs.
You can see that even with the same events, the same bad stuff, dealing with them becomes much easier when you have a positive attitude.
Positivity feels good; positivity changes how your mind works; positivity puts the brakes on negativity.
Rest assured that no matter how good you are at negativity, you're also capable of positivity. Read Barbara's book for more. It is a fantastic read.
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