A Positive Attitude: Your Secret Weapon
Our perceptions of things dictate how we live our lives
Positive thinking can make you more creative, resilient, and successful
Learning from mistakes is imperative
Life is stressful. It can feel like there’s always some problem or issue that must be dealt with, and it becomes difficult to relax. Often this negative stress (or distress), can have a huge impact on our lives. It’s easy to pick up poor eating habits, start smoking, or commit to a life without sleep in response to constant negative stress. This is not a good strategy to succeed in the business world. Consider this, you have the power to better your life right now. The challenge is to change the way the you perceive and handle distress, and turn it into positive stress (or eustress).
I used to work for an energy company. My job was to table inside a popular home improvement retail store and get leads to sell our service to their customers. It was not my first sales job, but it was the most intense in regards to just how many customers I dealt with in a day. As I stood there, bodies whirled past, music and announcements blared over the intercom, and everyone was busy with something. As such, I faced a lot of rejection in my efforts. I mean, A LOT of rejection. Many customers were kind and friendly (regardless of whether they bought from me or not), though there was no shortage of those who would curse at, deny, or completely ignore me. In the beginning, it was soul crushing. It felt as though I was trapped, surrounded by people who hated me. There seemed to be no chance for success, and I was ready to give up.
In my darkest hour, it struck me. By accepting defeat and giving up, I would have a 100% chance of failing in my duties. If I were to face my dilemma head on then at least it was possible I would make some sales, no matter how likely. I wanted to do well in my new job and prove that I really had something to offer to the company. But, how could I triumph over this tsunami of negativity? Frankly, the customers didn’t like me, and I didn’t truly like them. However, in ponderance of my problem, I realized that in allowing the actions of other to negatively affect me I was really hurting myself. Furthermore, it was unnecessary to feel hostility towards customers that had been rude, because the truth is that they could just be having a bad day. Certainly, I’ve had bad days and been rather cruel to others...even my own family! How then, could I judge these people without really knowing them?
After some reservation I decided to take my own advice, and the results were astounding. I immediately saw improvement in my mood, and my performance. I wasn’t letting things get me down as much, and had been cleansed of my self defeating attitude. Customers liked me better. So much better in fact, that on a good day I would score as much as 16 leads for sales. I was given a raise, and a promotion to Team Leader. In my new position, I was tasked with sharing my techniques with coworkers to help them succeed, and I was even asked to give a presentation on staying positive. The art of positivity has been practiced for centuries by varied groups and people. Here, I will share with you my own techniques and meditations as well as those shared by others. These are the same that I shared with my coworkers, and that I still use today.
1. Realize, that we live in an amazing world
Have you ever considered the overwhelming beauty, power, and magnificence that the world around us has to offer? No matter who you are, no matter what your situation, there are things happening in the world that are astounding and positive. Flowers bloom, the sun rises, and stars light the night sky. In an interview with Time Magazine, the 14th and current Dalai Lama shares his wisdom, “ I always look at any event from a wider angle. There's always some problem, some killing, some murder or terrorist act or scandal everywhere, every day. But if you think the whole world is like that, you're wrong. Out of 6 billion humans, the troublemakers are just a handful.” In acting upon this thought, you will become more resistant to the wear and tear of everyday life and earn an edge in the workplace.
2. You can control your emotional outlook
Merriam-Webster defines emotion as “the affective aspect of consciousness.” Emotions are inherent, and are necessary for us in our everyday lives. They are signals our bodies produce to help us understand how to react in situations and navigate our world. In an article for Psychology Today, Ilana Simons explains “emotions have helped us survive. When we lived in the wild--with monkeys and mastodons and tigers--we needed emotions in order to react quickly to dangerous stimuli. [However,] It was the ability to reason about old and future selves (to set traps, and not just run from tigers) that allowed us to dominate the food chain.” This is a powerful insight. Often, our emotions can get in the way of our daily lives. It’s easy to have a bad morning, and let it ruin the rest of your day. Conversely, it is just as easy to become overly excited, and make unwise choices. This effect is evident in phenomena like as the gambler's fallacy, where people believe independent events that occur frequently now will occur less frequently in the future. Though, of course, it would be futile to ignore our emotions indefinitely. When we are able to compose ourselves, listen to our emotions, and then sort through them rationally, we are our best selves. In a recent tweet, celebrity life coach Tony Robbins sums the idea up nicely, “How we choose to direct our focus has a massive effect on how we feel.”
3. The way we act towards others, reveals how we feel about ourselves
The old adage “Bullys are the ones who are hurting the most” is absolutely true. When we feel vulnerable or uncomfortable with ourselves, it is a natural reaction to lash out at others. For a moment, just think about your own life. Have you ever felt nervous or scared, and acted aggressively as a result? The truth is that it is unfair to act in this way, as we burden others with problems that are our own. Even worse, we do not deal with our emotions in a healthy way and therefore prevent our own growth. If you take away anything from this article, it should be that before you can grow, you must accept yourself. However, this advice may be easier in theory than in practice. Some problems can be very deep rooted, traumatic, or related to mental illness. But no matter who you are, you have value and worth. Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor at PsychCentral took the time to share some practical goals to facilitate self acceptance. This includes celebrating your strengths, forgiving yourself, and performing charitable acts. You can check out the whole list here. Remember, You have the ability to take control of your life, and create something better.
“10 Questions for the Dalai Lama - Time Magazine Interview.” The 14th Dalai Lama, www.dalailama.com/messages/transcripts-and-interviews/10-questions-time-magazine.
“Emotion.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emotion.
Simmons, Llana. “Why Do We Have Emotions?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 14 Nov. 2009, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-literary-mind/200911/why-do-we-have-emotions.
Robbins, Tony. “How We Choose to Direct Our Focus Has a Massive Effect on How We Feel. Https://T.co/17ldpUoJNq.” Twitter, Twitter, 8 June 2018, twitter.com/TonyRobbins/status/1005187017532047360?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet.
Tartakovsky, Margarita. “Therapists Spill: 12 Ways to Accept Yourself.” Psych Central, 17 July 2016, psychcentral.com/lib/therapists-spill-12-ways-to-accept-yourself/.