I’d like to be optimistic, but it’s not that easy. The economy’s terrible, the election’s coming up this year, people are still losing their houses, …
Here’s how I do it.
You may have some friends or colleagues who are “toxic people.” You know the type: For every positive sign, they can recite five negative ones. They relish in the opportunity to point out the black cloud behind the silver lining.
And, let’s face it, there’s a certain amount of perverse pleasure in complaining. It’s easy, and doesn’t carry the risk that you might actually have to DO something.
But the end result, over time, is that you take on the attitude of a slave. Other people have the opportunity and right to do things, and all you can do is to respond. You’ve lost all your freedom.
That’s no way to spend your life.
So the first challenge is to limit the amount of time you spend with these toxic “friends.” If three minutes a day is all you can take, then listen for that time, don’t participate much, and walk away. Maybe they’ll learn and adjust over time, but it’s not your job to try to “fix” other people.
Do the same with the media you consume. I had a podcast that I listened to faithfully for several years, and really enjoyed. But it was all about complaining and pointing out faults, not about coming up with useful solutions. I started noticing that after listening, I would become cynical for the rest of the day.
Because I don’t want to be that kind of person, I had to give up the podcasts. Guess what? I’m more positive now.
The third thing I do is to actively look for – and celebrate – positive signs. Last week my son had two high-value interviews, after having none for a year. Let’s consider that as a sign that his industry is turning up, and that he’s shifting his focus to get a little more serious about the job search. A year’s worth of new experience has helped as well!
I’ve been getting a sense that there’s more optimism here in January 2012 than there was in January 2011. Measurable? Not really. But I’ve been doing my part to tell people that this has helped me to be more upbeat, in the hopes that I can spread it around a little more. It seems to be working, little by little.
A couple of months ago, on one of my blogs, I mentioned my little experiment with changing the standard hallway exchange: “How’s it going?” “Fine.” This actually means nothing in our culture, other than acknowledging the other person’s existence. It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m “fine”, it’s just the standard response.
I changed my response to things like “wonderful!” or “excellent!” in order to see how people would react. And they noticed, yes, but more important, it changed my outlook on the day. I found that by telling someone I was having a wonderful time, that it actually increased the chances that the day would indeed be wonderful. Because I was working to make it that way.
And don’t we all want wonderful days?
|Carl Dierschow is a Certified Small Fish Business Coach and author of the career management guide, Mondays Stink! 23 Secrets to Rediscover Delight and Fulfillment in Your Work. He is a career coach for those going through interesting transitions, and works with small business owners who need to create breakthroughs in achieving their business goals. Find out more at www.Dierschow.com and www.SmallFish.us.If you are interested in individual career coaching, group coaching, or other resources which might help you with difficult choices, please contact Carl at email@example.com.
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True. One of the most important traits that we can nurture in ourselves is optimism. And one of the best ways to do this is to celebrate your strengths. We have to play out our strengths, not correct our weaknesses. Focus on what you do well and you’ll see you’ll achieve more and be much much happier.