“It is so gray outside.”
“The traffic was terrible.”
“That sounds too good to be true.”
Negativity is so pervasive in our society; it is as natural as breathing. The subtle differences in what we focus on can really affect our thought patterns. This, in turn, leads to more negativity. It really is a vicious cycle, but one that we can break in a simple way.
When we spread negativity, it is not just ourselves that we affect, but our wider circle too. Our friends, family, co-workers, and especially our children. Kids really do absorb everything we say, especially if it is about them. This makes it so important to keep our focus on the positive wherever possible. The good news is that there is a really obvious way to tell and a really simple way to move forwards.
How to tell
In very simple terms, if you are spreading negativity, then negative people will surround you. Have you heard the saying, “misery loves company”, and wondered why? Basically, people do not like to be told they are wrong. If someone wants to have a good moan, they will choose a fellow moaner to complain to, as this experience will validate them.
How to turn it around
This does not require a fortnight at a mindfulness retreat in Bali – sorry to break it to you. It does not require extensive regression therapy or a shamanic ritual in a rain forest. And you do not need to dance through the streets singing show tunes and sprinkling glitter.
All it takes is a little shift in your awareness and the willingness to form better habits. This is something you can easily work into your daily life. Does that sound too good to be true? Uh-oh, that could be the negativity talking. Allow me to explain.
Our outside world is a mirror for our inside world, and vice versa
What we see with our eyes is not really the truest representation of reality. Everything our eyes take in is filtered through our brain, and we have a certain degree of choice as to what we mentally attend to.
This is not about choosing to turn a blind eye to bad things. It is about ‘seeing’ everything, but ‘focusing’ on the good in a situation, wherever reasonably possible. And conversely, when you expect to see more good, you will.
It is about seeing that it is a gray day outside, but being thankful it is not raining sideways. It is about seeing a ‘too good to be true’ situation as a possible opportunity. Not with reckless abandon, but with well-informed hopefulness.
Have you tried gratitude journaling? I did this for a month and it helped me to form better habits. Every time I thought about something that was bringing me down, I would list three things I was grateful for. I know it sounds simplistic, but often the best answers are the simple ones.
If you have a lot on your plate at work you could also try the ‘ta-done’ list, a technique described by Lisa Nichols, famous for her contributions to the Chicken Soup For The Soul series.
When your to-do list is bringing you down, write a ‘ta-done’ list of things you have already achieved. It is another simple trick to refocus from the negative to the positive, and it really works wonders.
Have you tried any of these techniques? Let me know your favorite ones in the comments below.