2018-06-18 Issue 55 Fundamental Behavior 25 Be Positive
‘You have the power!’ That is how this week’s Fundamental Behavior starts. Each of us is empowered to choose our attitude. I believe it. As with the other 24 Fundamental Behaviors, the power to be positive is an active choice we can make, nurture, and develop with practice. I really like thinking about how I have the power to feel optimistic and enthusiastic, and that I am not reliant on someone else’s actions or approvals to dictate that. I hope you feel the same way, and I hope you make the choice to be positive.
I do not think being positive or optimistic means we try to fool ourselves or others into thinking that bad things do not happen, or that problems do not exist. Being positive does not mean we wear rose colored glasses to alter our perception of reality. Walt Disney stated, “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” This is coming from a man who: 1) was fired from his job at a newspaper because he ‘lacked ideas,’ so he started an animation studio; 2) had his first animation studio fail and go bankrupt, so he moved to California to start another one; 3) lost his first successful animated character, ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,’ and his animation staff to Universal Studios, so he created another one (Mickey Mouse).
Walt Disney had many reasons to NOT be positive. Instead, he chose to be optimistic and energetic, and by doing so influenced those around him to help make Disney the global phenomenon it now is. That is because being positive is contagious. Once you choose to be positive, others around you will become ‘infected’ by your approach. It is said that positive thinking has a ripple effect on those around you, like when you throw a rock in a pond. Unfortunately, being negative is also influential and contagious. Studies suggest that positive attitudes can influence people to a factor of 3: (1) Being positive will make you happier and healthier, (2) It will positively influence those immediately around you, and (3) It will even impact those who later are around the people you influenced. Unfortunately, being negative is also contagious, with a ripple factor of 4 to 7, so stay away from the Dark Side!
There are practical things we can do to improve our chances of being more positive, and these include:
a. Separate fact from fiction – we are genetically wired to protect ourselves, which includes seeing threats that may not exist;
b. Avoid negative self-talk – almost no situation is ‘always,’ ‘never,’ ‘worst,’ or ‘ever,’ so these words are rarely useful;
c. Limit your time reading/watching ‘the news’ – the news is a business that is now open 24/7 and is designed to get you to watch advertisements. It succeeds by showing the extremes of the human condition to create alarm and may not accurately reflect life as it truly is;
d. Get more sleep – enough said;
e. Get more exercise – enough said;
f. Smile! – enough said.
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