This morning I came into work, sat down at my desk, and inexplicably had a brief flashback to the person I was five years ago — a person who was always angry and negative. I contrasted that with the person I’ve worked hard to become: someone who looks at life optimistically and views each day, and each challenge, as an opportunity.
I generally say that thinking about the past is useless, and also dangerous, but I was happy to actually have this “flashback”, because it reinforced what I’ve learned and what I say often in my book. The path to a happier life begins with making the CHOICE to have a positive perspective.
Please keep in mind that only YOU can make this choice. In the depths of my negativity and depression, I was surrounded by positive people — family, friends, colleagues. But it didn’t matter. I had chosen to be negative, and none of the surrounding positivity was rubbing off on me.
When you find yourself disliking your life and not looking forward to every day, and being cynical and sarcastic about everything, take a step back. Very likely, you have allowed your outlook to become negative.
How do I gain a positive perspective?
Gaining a positive perspective, or restoring one, starts with being thankful for all the good and positive things in your life. If you feel very negative, it is probably because you have started to take these things for granted. Everyone who has regular meals, a roof over their head, clothes to wear, and the ability to see, hear, and walk, has a lot of things to be thankful for. Those who have families, friends, music to listen to, books to read, movies to watch, have things to be thankful for. Make a list of these things, and add to it. What are your favorite foods? Your favorite songs? Be as specific as possible. You will find that the list goes on and on.
Developing this “attitude of gratitude” is simple. And simplicity itself is part of gaining a positive approach to your life. Most of us go through life with a lot of non-essential things around us that we allow to alter our perspective and bring us down. Some people are in a bad mood on Monday because their favorite football team lost. Watching the news in the morning is actually a very detrimental way to start your day.
Start removing these unnecessary causes of stress. Focus on the things that you can control, and on being prepared for the things that you cannot by having a positive perspective.
Bear in mind also that being positive involves being able to embrace change. Negative people, ironically, dislike the concept of change, yet they expect their lives to get better. Well, how can your life get better if you won’t allow it to change?
Take this festive Christmas season, and look around you, at all the happiness that this season creates. Be thankful for each smiling face, each positive song. Once you make that decision to be positive, you will find a wealth of things to like about life, and about YOUR life. There will always be difficulties, simply because life is difficult. Having a positive perspective enables you to deal with these difficulties in the best way that you can.
–Tom McKinley is the author of self-help book, Winning the Fight to be Happy