Look at the news on television, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Are you aware of how easy it is to feel scared, apathetic, negative, disgusted or incredulous with what's happening these days, especially in politics and big business?
In general, do you find fault in everything? Dwell on what's wrong? Focus on the half-empty glass? Complain about things you don't like, repeat stories about how others did you wrong, or zoom in on worst-case scenarios?
The price you pay for your pessimistic attitude is draining your life of the miraculousness of being alive. And it's draining everyone else around you as well.
Have you become a wet blanket, failing to acknowledge what's working or punishing others when they say or do things you don't like? If so you are unknowingly or knowingly creating alienation and insecurity in those around you. You are not spreading joy, love, or peace.
What Exactly Can We Control?
You can believe you don't have a choice in how you interpret the current state of affairs. But let me offer an alternative.
Our world and the people in it are the way they are, not the way we think they should be. And sad but true mostly their behavior is out of our control.
What is in our control is how we feel, think, and react to what we observe.
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You do have a choice. You can frame situations as positive opportunities or negative roadblocks.
So what do you choose? If you bitch and moan, that's the reality you create for yourself. If you choose to look at the bright side, being grateful for all that you have and seeing the positive things in your life - people, creature comforts, food to eat and shelter - then you will not get bogged down in depression, frustration, and anxiety.
Realistically speaking, there is quite a low probability that you or your child will be the victim of a terror attack. Fretting about it won't reduce the threat.
A positive attitude doesn't mean you stick your head in the sand. It means you care about the quality of your mental and emotional state and choose to focus on the positive. From this stance you still can do what you can to make your environment the best it can be. You can act from a state of wholeness rather than reacting from the skewed perception brought on by your sadness, anger, or fear-fuel negative attitude.
How to Change
- When you want to complain about something, just stop! Revert to silence or look hard until you find the silver lining and voice that. It's a practice, but a fun one. Look at it as a game. You can get good at it.
- If you can't find anything good to say or you're down in the dumps, physically release your anger in a constructive manner by going some place safe and pounding pillows, stomping around, or yelling nonsense words.
- Overlook what you don't like and focus on finding constructive solutions to obstacles. Accentuate the positive.
- Voice appreciations daily - Give at least two appreciations a day to those in your daily life. You can appreciate characteristics people possess or actions they perform.
- Offer praise for jobs well done, or at least highlight parts of tasks that were accomplished. Remember the formula for successful child (or adult) rearing is giving 20 pieces of praise for every 2 pieces of "feedback."
- Mentally find something positive about everyone you encounter or every situation you find yourself in.
- Persist with voicing the good regardless of whether others do the same.
The Merits of Focusing on the Positive
With every challenge life presents, we have the ability to find the silver lining. Some situations present us with a lesson, an opportunity to find the positive, in what appears to be a seemingly unacceptable circumstance.
A client, Sara, presented a fine example of this when she related the following dilemma: She had just received the news that her 21 year-old sister was pregnant with a guy she had met only a month ago. Sara was also told that her sister and boyfriend intended to keep and raise the baby and would be moving back in with her parents.
Sara was furious at her sister, the guy, her parents and the whole situation. However, she realized her anger was interfering with her ability to be a supportive sister. She first needed to deal with her anger by getting rid of the negative emotional energy in a constructive and physical way.
This only took 15-20 minutes of pounding on a pile of old phone books with a 20” flexible plastic hose in her garage. As she pounded, she just made angry sounds and yelled, “I’m so mad.” After she completely exhausted herself, she was ready to accept the reality of the situation. “Yes, my sister is indeed pregnant and going to be a mother. I have to accept it because it’s happening. It’s a done deal.”
After repeating these phrases for a few minutes, the realization struck her that she needed to accept this reality so she could support her sister and for her own peace of mind. She also realized that by being a loving sister and aunt, she had new and positive possibilities to look forward to.
The Upside of a Positive Attitude
When you focus on what's working, on what's good, you spark feelings of love and moments of connection in yourself and others. Not only that, you'll feel better. And the benefits don't stop there. You'll find that you'll naturally speak and act more kindly.
This shift will make you more attractive for others to be around, and you'll look better too. You'll find life easier and enjoy accomplishing whatever is presented. In addition you'll feel more gratitude and that feels good. Most importantly, you'll like yourself more and relish your best friend, your constant companion, your mind.
©2011, 2016 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by the Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Click here for a video demonstration of the Shiver and Shake Process.