No one will argue that negativity surrounds us. Government shutdowns. Politicians pointing fingers, giving their counterparts tongue-lashings, and plastering the airwaves with expletives. Terrorists strikes. Natural disasters. Health crises that threaten loved ones. Financial challenges that stretch and stress.
Dwelling on these things could make you want to duck your head under the covers and not get up in the mornings. But telling yourself just to “not think about it” is neither possible, healthy, nor helpful.
“As a person thinks, so he or she lives.” That Biblical principle has been reframed and quoted in different ways by philosophers, psychologists, therapists, theologians, writers, artists, and actors for centuries.
So if you want to change your personal experience in the midst of all the negativity around you, rethink how you’re thinking.
Create a list of good books that you’d like to read this year. Always keep two or three downloaded on your device or sitting on your nightstand so they’re readily available when you have a few minutes. If you need recommendations, ask friends, coworkers, clients, or your boss for their favorites. They’ll be delighted you asked and that will give you another topic of conversation to share.
Mark your favorite blogs and podcasts—those that motivate and educate you on topics of interest.
At the very least, read a daily meditation. You can subscribe to a favorite or two that will pop into your email box every morning to start your day off on a motivational thought or provide a new tip to improve your life in some way.
Stop listening to news 24X7. Sure, you need to be alert to what’s happening in the world—but do you need to hear about the murders, political shenanigans, invasions, and health crises every hour on the hour?
Be picky about the networks, pundits, analysts, “experts,” interviewers, reporters, and media you pay attention to. There are facts, spin, propaganda, and downright lies that make you weary and pollute your peace.
Your words shape your thoughts. Call something a “bad decision” rather than a “bad situation,” and soon you’ll grow angry at the boss who made that choice.
Do you have a “problem” or an “issue” to handle? Do you have an “obstinate client,” or a “client who needs a solution”? Are you “required to write a long, complex, cumbersome report”? Or do you “want to document an incident accurately to prevent any later problem”?
Is your family member “checking in” on you to be supportive or “checking up” on you to harangue and embarrass you?
Words frame how you think about things. Make them positive.
Give yourself time to be alone. Walk. Work out. Simply wait on a family member or friend without music, a phone, or social media to distract you. Dream. What are you goals? What would you really like to achieve in the next 10 years? Then back those goals up to 5 years? A year? This month? What could you do in the next week to get started?
Discover your purpose in life. Chances are, that purpose isn’t to pity, pout, or procrastinate but rather to focus on positive steps ahead of you.
Negative people can warp your thinking. Case in point: Ted (name changed to protect the guilty) and a few coworkers decided one morning to play a trick on their colleague Bradley—just to check out the power of suggestion. One by one during the morning, as they either stopped by his work station or saw him in the hallway, they commented on his health: “Are you feeling okay? You don’t look well.” “Hey, what’s wrong with you? Your face is really red. Do you have fever?” “You look sick. I hope you’re not coming down with the flu.”
By mid-afternoon, Bradley left work to go home—sick. That’s the power of negative suggestions and negative talk. Whiners, poor performers, and purposeless people can drown you in despair.
Surround yourself with people who inspire, encourage, and support you.
My friend, Chad Hymas (look him up YouTube here), was living a great life with a beautiful wife and precious young children until a farming accident left him a paraplegic. Despite the tragedy, he found the good in the situation and reframed his future. He now leads an extraordinarily satisfactory life as a motivational speaker, traveling the world helping others find meaning in their lives and achieve their dreams.
You may be disappointed in your current situation, but consider what good could come from the circumstances, people, or environment around you. Think on these things…
Thinking positively in a negative world leads to living well and doing good. And living well and doing good communicates your values and influences others far more than lectures ever could.
Learn more ways to reframe your thinking with Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire and Get Things Done. Download an excerpt by clicking here or on the image below.