The Power of a Positive Attitude

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Do you think you’re a positive person? A positive mental attitude can improve your health, enhance your relationships, increase your chances of success, and add years to your life.

The fact is, most people are bombarded by negativity each day. Sure, it’s easy to cast blame by saying you’re surrounded by negative people. The reality: A lot of the negativity is self-inflicted…influenced by the company you keep and your personal perspective on life’s realities.

Take a minute…

Think how often in the day you’re besieged by people who argue over money, worry about the possibility of failure, complain about someone’s actions, criticize mistakes, mistrust someone’s intentions, blame others to avoid condemnation, envy someone for personal achievements, and gossip about trivial garbage. (No wonder we’re exhausted at the end of the day.)

Let’s take a closer look at the negativity that we face every day…

Arguments. Many arguments are the result of poor communication, the lack of open mindedness, or the clash of opposing values and principles. People also argue to force their viewpoint on others or just to let off steam.

Worry. Others worry about losing control. They desire certainty in an uncertain world. These people feel that worrying is productive, even though they’ll be the first to tell you that they’re driving themselves crazy because they can’t get these thoughts out of their head.

Fear. Some people fear the unknown. Just as pollution damages the environment, fear is toxic to individuals and companies. Fear encourages people to withdraw, keep information close to their vest, hide mistakes, and refuse to take risks. Whether their fear is caused by something real or imagined, perception is reality.

Blame. Criticizing and insulting people in front of their peers, challenging their competence, demanding impossible deadlines, and cutting them out of the information loop are tactics that create negativity. Furthermore, when something goes wrong, people often look to others to cast blame. The result is that everyone watches out for #1 — themselves.

Complaints. The reason many people complain all the time is not necessarily because they’re unhappy with their lives or circumstances. The fact is, compulsive complainers don’t even realize that they’re complaining. Perpetual complainers grumble out of boredom or a desire to turn an awkward moment of silence into a conversation starter. Or sometimes, people complain just because it makes them feel better to vent.

Criticism. There’s a difference between constructive feedback and biting criticism. While constructive feedback is offered with good intent, constant and biting criticism can lead to stress, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem.

Mistrust. How much time is wasted and how much ill will created as a result of mistrust? People spend endless hours second-guessing intent, peering over shoulders, and creating elaborate approval processes to check and recheck.

Jealousy. When is enough, enough? We live in a society where many people aren’t satisfied with their own accomplishments. If our neighbor buys a new toy, if our colleague receives a promotion, or if the TV celebrity flaunts a new design, we want it too. The problem is, after the excitement wears off, the finish line moves as well. Whether it’s affordable, deserved, or needed never comes into question.

Gossip (our national pastime). People gossip to fit into a group, fill a void in conversation, prove that they’re in the know, take revenge on a person, put someone in their place, or merely to gain attention. Gossip is a disease spread mouth to mouth. It’s one of those distractions that keep us from focusing on our own lives.

It Pays to Be Positive

There’s a direct correlation between a positive attitude and better relationships, superior health, and greater success.

A positive attitude can boost your energy, heighten your inner strength, inspire others, and garner the fortitude to meet difficult challenges. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can increase your life span, decrease depression, reduce levels of distress, provide greater resistance to the common cold, offer better psychological and physical well-being, reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and enable you to cope better during hardships and times of stress.

Here are several ways to adopt a positive mental attitude:

Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with people who are positive, supportive, and who energize you. Remember, if you get too close to a drowning victim, he may take you down with him. Pick a positive person instead.

Be positive yourself. If you don’t want to be surrounded by negative people, what makes you think others do? Learn to master your own thoughts. For example:

  • When you visualize a goal, it makes you more likely to take the actions necessary to reach it. Visualize yourself winning the race, getting the promotion, accepting the award, or landing the new account.

  • Control your negative thinking. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

    • See the glass as half full rather than half empty.

    • Anticipate the best outcome.

    • Stay the middle ground. Don’t view everything in extremes — as either fantastic or a catastrophe. This will help you reduce your highs and lows.

    • Mistakes happen. Negative people blame themselves for every bad occurrence whether it was their fault or not. Don’t let this be you.

Consciously resist negative thinking. Be cognizant of and mentally avoid negative thinking. This will help you modify your behavior.

Be nice to yourself. Unfortunately, some people say the meanest things to themselves. If you criticize yourself long enough, you’ll start to believe it. This negativity can drag you down over time. It may be time to fire the critic and hire the advocate.

Set realistic, achievable goals. There’s nothing wrong with setting a high bar — unless you beat yourself up for not achieving your goals. The key is to build confidence by setting realistic goals and by hitting a lot of singles rather than swinging for the fences.

Keep it in perspective. Life is all about prioritizing the things that matter most in your life and focusing your efforts in these areas. This means that trivial things that go wrong every day shouldn’t get you down. Learn to address or ignore small issues and move on. It’s time to sweat the big stuff.

Turn challenges into opportunities. Instead of letting challenges overwhelm you, turn them into opportunities. (Rather than hitting the wall, climb over it or go around.)

Count your blessings. Be grateful and give thanks for the special things in your life rather than taking them for granted. Some people do this by giving thanks around the dinner table, keeping a written journal, or posting one special item each day on Facebook. Remember, some of the greatest possessions in life aren’t material. Take every opportunity to make a wonderful new memory.

If you want to achieve happiness, better health, stronger relationships, and continued success, you may not have to look any further than the mirror. “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.”* Do you see the glass half full or half empty? True happiness may depend on how you view the world and who you look to for inspiration. It pays to be positive.

*Author unknown. See http://anse.rs/iatZYn

Additional Reading:
Don’t Quit: Making Winning a Habit
The Winner’s Edge
Make It A Habit
Seeing the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses

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Comments

  1. Marc says

    Absolutely, positively true! As I dive into a new job search with both feet, I’ve gained lot a positive momentum just from having a great outlook, confidence and an open mind. Id like to think I have always been a half-fuller but now its extremely beneficial as every day something new has given me insight, inspiration and something new to consider. Although its not swing for the fences time yet, I am hitting a lot of doubles and singles each day and it feels great. It’s going to take a lot more than three outs to get me to sit down in this life.

  2. Kathy says

    Good Morning! Yes it’s a sunny morning and I am starting the day with
    the reading of another insightful and uplifting blog from Frank. I have always been the type to believe things will turn out for the best and that every
    morning is a fresh start. Those negative thoughts do take over at times
    and it’s good to remember the power is within us to be positive and change
    things for ourselves. I’ll enjoy the challenge to remove the unwanted in
    my life. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Susan says

    Thank you, Frank, for the very concrete “to do” list supported by experience and research. Definitely will be shared.

  4. Rossana Weitekamp says

    Another quotable gem: “Gossip is a disease that’s spread mouth to mouth”. Love it!

    I’m one of those worriers, especially now as we wait for letters from college admissions offices. But I’ve decided to be “nice to myself” and let the worry/frustration out in yoga. People have to remember that they live with themselves 24/7. Be sure that person is happy!

  5. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Marc / Kathy / Susan / Rossana / Ed

    Thanks so much for your comments. Much appreciated!

    Marc, it’s so much easier looking for a job when you’re UP. I have no doubt that this story will have a very happy ending. You’re a real winner!

    Kathy, it’s funny that we each have the choice to see the glass half full or half empty, and some people choose half empty. What’s with that?

    Rossana, I remember the college admissions process like it was yesterday. Looking back I can tell you that it works out for the best. It really does.

  6. Lauriana Zukowski says

    Frank, this article is excellent. I recommend people print it out and read it every day as a reminder. People tend to be drawn to positive people. Worrying has no positive upside for a person, and can’t change the situation. In fact, it achieves nothing but negative results. Gossip is another destructive behavior. Avoid situations where you know there will be gossip. If it starts, tactfully change the subject. If that doesn’t work you can excuse yourself politely. It’s easier than you think.
    I love how you ended with “count your blessings”. This is so important. It is amazing how this can help shape a positive attitude rather quickly!
    Thanks so much for these wonderful reminders.

  7. Meredith Bell says

    This is such an important post that I could read it every morning as I start my day. Each of the steps you outline for becoming more positive need to be reviewed on a regular basis so they become a natural part of our thinking.

    It’s so important to become aware of that inner critic and the negative messages we bombard ourselves with…and to replace them with uplifting, affirming words so we build our confidence from the inside out.

    Thank you, Frank, for once again addressing an important topic so clearly, and for providing specific steps people can take to develop a positive attitude.

  8. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Lauriana / Dan / Meredith

    Thanks soooo much for your comments.

    Lauriana/Meredith — While you say that you could read this post every day, I could read your comments every hour. Thanks

    It’s funny that we can control our happiness just by changing our perspective. (Isn’t it worth a try?)

  9. Judy Krings says

    Positivity opens doors and minds to well-being wonders. Love this article that reminds me Positive Psychology currency buys me joy and elevation. Kudos!

  10. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Judy/ Pramod

    Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

    If you have a moment, take a look at my post called, “Seeing the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses.” It’s a different twist on living with a positive attitude.

    Have a great day!

  11. Laureen says

    This is excellent Frank and so very true. If one thinks in terms of a thought and analysis it as coming from love or fear (which you mention), one can start to change ones thinking one thought at a time. If the thought is from fear, then discard it. The ego is the great con master of the mind and many fall pray to it. I thoroughly love the way you are able to articulate yourself and present a brilliant concise article that anyone can understand and appreciate.
    With admiration
    Lau

  12. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Laureen

    Thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken. The best way to become a positive person is one thought at a time. It’s a game of inches. Have a great weekend! Frank

  13. terry del percio says

    Hi Frank – another great post.

    There are not many things more important than a positive perspective. Great leaders are positive people that exude hope and a belief that just about anything is possible.

    I think there still needs to be a better way articulated to help people learn how to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. How does one actually change their tendency to see the glass as half full? Somehow just telling them they need to do it doesn’t seem enough. I use a “gong” in my office. Whenever a client falls back into their negativity by a comment, I ring the gong. I’m hoping that they will eventually have an “inner gong” that will go off to change their negativity habit.

    I’d love to hear other ways to get at this!

    Thanks, Frank, for raising an ever-important issue.

    Terry

  14. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Thanks for your comments Terry. You’re absolutely right. It’s very tough to break a bad habit. The gong is a GREAT idea. Many years ago I took a positive thinking seminar. Our homework assignment for the week was to say “cancel, cancel” every time we had a negative thought. It was really eye-opening.

  15. Beyond Horizons says

    Great post!
    It is ultimately your mindset that dictates your actions. And having a positive mindset will result in your actions and speech being more positive. And people often underestimate the power of positive words and actions.

    On a relevant note, I read a post by Dan Rockwell called ‘The 4 to 1 Rule Will Change Your Life’ (http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/the-4-to-1-rule-will-change-your-life/). It also talks about incorporating positiveness in the way you think and express.

    - Sindoora (http://www.beyondhorizons.in)

  16. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Granch / Sindoora

    Thanks for your comments and for the reading suggestion.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Best,

    Frank

  17. Jeanilyn says

    Sir, Thank you so much for the wonderful article. I really really love to read and absorb it to my mind and it can really help me to boast my thoughts into a great one… thanks again! Hope that you can create more…More blogs to come… God Bless! Be happy and nice always…

  18. motivationstuff.com says

    Somehow, many people find it easier to think negative rather than thinking positive. When stock prices falls, people always think it is end of the financial world. This world really need more positive thinking people to make it a better place. Great reminder to all. Cheers. :-)

    • Frank Sonnenberg says

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      It’s like the saying goes, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” It’s your choice how you want to view the world.

      Have an awesome day!

      Best,

      Frank

  19. AbdAllah says

    Thanks Frank for this great blog. Seeing things positively & being optimistic are important for your health & to achieve your goals. I always advise my staff to deal with challenges as great apportunities for learning and having additional experiences.

    • Frank Sonnenberg says

      Hi Najiba

      I’m so glad you like it. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Best,

      Frank

  20. Diana Di Gioia says

    Frank,

    It is Diana from DAARSTOC! I truly admire this article – so much so, that I have it printed out and posted next to my desk at work. I expect to put up more articles from you as I find them enlightening and inspirational.

    Thank you so much for all that you do!

    -Diana

    • Frank Sonnenberg says

      Hi Diana

      It’s great hearing from you. It’s SO important to have a positive attitude. I’m glad you find the post useful.

      I hope to see you back at DAARSTOC this fall.

      Have an awesome weekend!

      Frank

  21. Tammy Goffredo says

    Good Afternoon Frank,

    I just wanted to Thank You for this timely article that came across my LinkedIn account today.

    I struggle with alot of what you wrote sometimes on a daily basis and no matter what I have tried, this article speaks volumes to me and perhaps can be the change I need!

    Please continue with your awesome work!

    • Frank Sonnenberg says

      Hi Tammy

      I’m glad that this article resonated with you. I can assure you that many people struggle with the ups and downs of life. I find it helpful to read or listen to motivational material that add a new perspective. My goal in writing this piece was to take it one step further by adding action steps.

      Thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate it.

      Have an awesome day.

      Best,

      Frank

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