Positive thinking does not come naturally.
Some of us have to really work at it. For many, negativity becomes a way of life. Tweet This
My mother, Ruth Caruso, was a great person who loved her children unconditionally, but mom was a fairly negative person.
Mom’s been deceased for a few decades, but I often reflect on her life. Thinking about mom helps me extract useful lessons for my own life. These reminders help me stay positive and motivate others.
The truth is that mom had trouble looking at the bright side of things.
Married to a good husband and father, Ruth and Mickey Caruso raised four sons who managed to get through the first part of life without any serious drama. Yet, mom struggled being happy even when things were going pretty well.
Our family began to talk more openly about mom’s negativity when she had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized.
The family tried to help her, of course, but in many ways, mom was a victim of her own mindset. When she got sick, it was even harder for her to engage in positive thinking.
Positive thinking; The glass really is half full
When mom contracted terminal lung cancer in 1992, she was forced to realize that the prior, “negative” years would be the happiest days of her life.
I think mom found piece of mind before she passed, but her struggle reminds me that positive thinking is not easy for some people.
My generation came to appreciate “the good old days” when the The Great Recession hit in 2007. I heard many people complaining about “tough times” prior to the recession, but what happened between 2007 and 2009 really put things in perspective.
Certainly there are dangers to being overly optimistic. Hope, as they say, is not a strategy. But positive thinking has its own rewards, even if there’s no causal effect between optimism and success.
Alas, having a positive frame of mind is not easy, especially if you haven’t had a lot of practice. Many people defend their non-positive attitudes by claiming to be realists or passing off their negative as harmless cynicism.
Stephen Covey, author of the classic Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, encouraged us to “begin with the end in mind.” If your end game is to be happy, for example, then why not try being happy a bit in advance? Indeed, happiness is a good target to aim for all the time.
Happiness is a decision
It’s a lovely concept that others can make you happy, but it’s just not true. Money does not cause happiness, either.
Happiness is a personal emotion that operates like a binary switch in the brain. Simply decide to be happy and … voila!
A woman who hated her job once asked the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, for advice.
Zig suggested that the woman make a list of all the things she loved about her job. She said, “Aren’t you listening? I don’t like anything about my job!”
Zig said, “Well, do you like getting paid?”
The woman said, “Of course.”
Zig asked, “Do you like having health insurance?”
“Yes, I really need it!” the woman answered.
It wasn’t long before the woman decided that she not only liked her job, there were things about it that she loved. She loved getting out of the house every day. She worked with her best friend. She loved that her employer was helping her set aside a nest egg for retirement.
Here’s the really interesting part. Zig didn’t change anything about the woman or about her job. He merely helped her re-frame her thinking. This allowed the lady to shift her mindset. It’s simply unreasonable to hate a job that allows for so many things you like.
Perhaps it’s time to resolve yourself to a more positive mindset.
Hear that sound? That’s the sound of opportunity knocking. Be grateful for all the good stuff in your life.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Focus on the first part.
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