How to Stay Positive No Matter What

Is it really possible to stay positive regardless of the circumstances?  Wouldn’t that be awesome if that were true?  I’ve met some really positive people, and I remember wondering if they were actually being honest or if they were just pretending to be so positive.  I remember a coworker who came to work the morning after her vehicle had been stolen, and she had the same smile and sunny disposition she always had.

So how can you stay positive regardless of the events you face?  Much can be revealed by how we react to the weather, traffic, and other rather routine events.  Listen to your own internal dialogue next time.  We have all dealt with adverse weather or traffic jams, and though they aren’t typically dramatic (absent the recent winter storm), we usually don’t let them get us down.  We just deal with them and look forward to another day.  We all know people, however, who tend to look at the negative side of things or who complain about nearly everything, including things they can’t control, which is the perfect formula for misery.

Our behavior and mood are reflections of our internal dialogue, which is based on our model of the world and our beliefs.  Those who seem negative most of the time, may believe that the world is a scary or mean place or that everyone is out to get them.  This could have a foundation in a more fundamental belief about their own worthiness, but the gist of it is that they see the world in a negative way.  So, the inverse is also true.  Those who are more positive have a positive, joyful model of the world and themselves.  The most positive and successful people also have what I believe is the most empowering belief  for having a positive perspective and leading a successful life.quo_edickinson

What would happen if we knew that when negative things happen in our lives, they actually result in a positive outcome no matter how negative the event seems at the time?  If nothing could happen that would result in a long term negative outcome, there would be no reason to have a negative outlook.  I realize this sounds far fetched, but think of it this way.  If you knew you were living the life you were meant to live and that everything that happened was so that you could realize your fullest potential and joy and dream, in every way, wouldn’t you look at life more positively, no matter what happened?  You would indeed! How cool is that?

When a Dot is More Than a Dot

Things are often not as they seem, and when we make assumptions about an event or another’s behavior, we may well be wrong and sorry.  How might a printing process teach us something about life?  When you take a very close look at a picture in a magazine, what valuable lesson might it reveal?

Many years ago, I was CEO of a leading packaging manufacturing company, and one of the operations we used was printing.  We acquired a state-of-the-art, eight color printing press so we could do process work, which is the printing method used to print pictures (whether for magazines, newspapers, packages, labels, etc.).  Most people know a little about this process now because every color, computer printer uses this method.  It is also the principal on which computer screens, televisions, smartphones, etc., create their beautiful images.

Take a look at a picture in a magazine or from your color printer with a magnifying glass or a loupe, and you’ll see that it is made up of many tiny dots of certain colors, organized specifically to generate the image.  One dot on it’s own will never make a picture.  It can only represent a dot.  Similarly, several dots, but not organized correctly, will create a blurry or even incomprehensible image.  What does this have to do with life?

Events happen throughout our lives, and each one of them represents a dot.  Each one, on its own, can only represent itself.  Sometimes we attach meaning to an event by making an assumption about its meaning.  When a similar event continues to occur, it becomes a series of dots and a more definitive meaning evolves.  Once there are a sufficient number of dots to create a clear picture, only then is it appropriate to attribute certain meaning, which is likely, by then, to be obvious.  You know that old saying about what happens when we “assume.”  Quite often, when we assume a certain meaning without proper consideration, we react rather than respond, and that can end up being the ultimate assumption.  Only when the dots are aligned in just the right way will the picture become unmistakably clear.

quo_mlkjrSo the next time an event, a dot, occurs in your life, take note of it and allow it to be just a dot, like a blip on a radar screen.  Save yourself from being wrong and sorry, the victim of a self-inflicted assumption.  If that dot appears over and over, if it occurs repeatedly, the truthful meaning will become clear, and when it does, you will be able to make the appropriate response, saving yourself and perhaps another from a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation.

We are all unique, and we see things through our eyes and with our filters.  I encourage you to remember that we are all more the same than we are different, and yet it is all of our similarities as well as our differences that make this world such an interesting place from which we can learn and grow.  When we open our eyes to all that is possible, we can realize the true joy of all that we share.  How cool is that?!

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Whether you believe in miracles or not, you have likely heard accounts of inexplicable events that some may have called, “miracles.” Is it possible that an accident could have been, “no accident” at all? How can an accident be, “no accident?” I actually believe that there are no such things as accidents, just as I believe there are no such things as coincidences. I believe there is purpose and there is a positive outcome in everything that occurs in our lives, even the painful things. And on more than one occasion, I have had that belief reinforced.

One such occasion was a few years ago when I was driving to an early morning appointment.  I was hit by a van coming in the opposite direction that was out of control and heading right for me.  I was able to avoid a head-on collision but wasn’t able to avoid it altogether.  I was knocked into a spin, my outside mirror smashing agains my window as I watched the van hit me, and I heard the awful sounds of metal on metal.  I was able to get my car stopped and backed up to assess the damage and to see if the other driver was okay.  There was significant damage to my car, from the front wheel all along the driver’s side, to and IMG_0214including the rear wheel, which was actually broken. I was lucky to have not been hurt more seriously than a bit shaken and sore. The woman driving the van who hit me was not hurt either, thankfully. As fortunate as it was that neither of us was hurt, that was not the miracle. Or was it?

The woman apologized for hitting me and we both assured the other that we were okay.  With tears in her eyes, the woman exclaimed that had I not been there at that exact moment, she would have hit a telephone pole or rolled over from the soft shoulder and into the plowed field off that narrow road. Her front left tire had blown out, and she wan’t able to control her van.  Split seconds made all the difference. She called me her angel, that day. All I knew was that I was meant to be there, at that exact time. My day and my car were sacrificed so that she would be safe, and I was left with an important lesson that I could share with others. So what was that lesson?

If there are no accidents and no coincidences, then what are those events in our lives that we can’t explain? When you notice a day where the humidity is low and the sky is the most beautiful, deep blue, or you hear a song on the radio that picks you up or brings a tear to your eye, or you were thinking of someone and then at that same moment, they call or you get a Facebook message from them, or a soft rain falls to nurture all the plants, or when you wake to the dawn of a new day, are those miracles? quo_edickinsonWe all have a choice to learn from all events and to live the lives we want.  We are not victims unless we allow ourselves to be.  I believe the true miracle is life, and that by showing up, fully being present in each moment, you are living a miracle.

The Difference You Make

Have you ever met someone who seems to be especially kind, yet humble?  Have you ever noticed that the most kind, helpful, and considerate people are also often the same people who have no idea how much they positively impact others?  Some of those special people are all around you, within your circle of friends or coworkers, and in your own home.

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I believe that each of us has a greater impact on those around us than we know.  I believe that each of us contributes to the greater good without even trying, just because of who we are and that we are here.  We have learned that even a simple smile can positively affect another human being.  We know that a kind word to a stranger can make a significant difference to a person’s mood, and likely well beyond just that moment.

What if every day, before you walked out your door, you asked yourself, “What can I do today to make this world a better place, one person at a time?”  What if you viewed each person you came across as another soul who may need a kind word or a smile, and that when you offered just that moment of kindness and joy, you helped make the world a better place?  How great would it make you feel to know that by such a simple act of kindness, you made someone else’s day better?  Maybe you remember a day when you weren’t feeling all that great, and someone smiled or said something nice to you and it gave you a lift that made that day a bit brighter.

I know people who have no idea how important they are to others.  For some, it’s because they feel they are just being themselves, or they are mothers and that’s just what they are supposed to do.  Others are teachers or nurses and their calling is to serve, to be helpful and considerate and compassionate, and they are just doing their jobs.  The reality is that they are special people for that very reason.  Being kind and considerate and compassionate is just natural for them.  They are naturally special and make this world a better place.

What I know for sure is that you are one of those special people.  You make a difference and are making this world a better place, just because you are you.  You care about others, and you help others feel good about themselves by showing them some special qualities they possess or by helping them shine in some way.  What that clearly reveals is something about you.  What that clearly reveals is that you, yes you, are special too.  How cool is that?  Very!

Please and Thank You, No!

The first lessons of good manners, and other than “Mommy” and “Daddy,” often the first words we teach our children, are “Please” and “Thank You.”  We teach them to ask nicely with a, “Please,” and to always say, “Thank you” when someone has done something kind or given them something.  The word, “No” is often the first word they remember us saying to them, repeatedly and usually with some conviction, which is why they seem all to eager to repeat it back to us, seldom to our amusement.

Hearing our children calling us “Mommy” or “Daddy” gives us parents great pride, and their following that up with an “I love you,” can bring joyful tears.  At some stage, the good manners of “Please” and “Thank you” can seem strangers while having fun with their friends, thankfully becoming reacquainted as they grow up.  What else have you noticed about the words, “Please” and “Thank you” and “No?”

Were you ever so displeased with your child saying, “No,” that you may have said something like, “Don’t you tell me no?”  The message that may send children is that they have no power and should never say “No” to an adult.  There are other interpretations, but they do learn at a very early age that “No” is not a word that they may regularly use.  Though we may not want our children to tell us that they will not clean their rooms, we do want them to know that in some cases it is perfectly appropriate for them to say, “No,” which may make it more confusing for them.

“No” is one of the most powerful words anyone can ever say.  As an adult, are you reticent to saying, “No” when asked to do that next project at work or a favor for a friend?  Might that be the result of what you learned as a child?  Were you always trying to please your parents (or to not displease them)?  Has that carried into adulthood where you find yourself wanting to be “nice” and to please others, even to your detriment?

SuccessWhat if the next time someone asks you to do something, you pause and give careful consideration to what is really best for you, and if you decide that you really don’t want to or don’t have the time, tell that someone, “No.”  Now, imagine how wonderful it feels because you haven’t added that “one more thing” to your already busy life and you can actually breathe and do something just for you!  Sometimes, our greatest successes come from our saying, “No,” because it frees us to do that which is most important for our joy and wellbeing.  How cool is that?

What if You Knew What You Didn’t Know?

You may read the title of this post and wonder what in the world I mean, and that would make for a well thought out headline.  After all, the purpose of a well-written headline is to get the reader to read what’s below.  But what if there was really much more to it than that?

We go through our busy lives, often on cruise control or autopilot, and at the end of the day or the end of the week, we may not remember much of what happened and little about what really mattered.  Has that ever happened to you?  What if we could change that without effort, by simply deciding to do so?  What if, as soon as the day following reading this post, or even immediately, from the very next moment, you lived your life more consciously, more aware, and more grateful? Would that make a difference?

How many times in your life have you looked back and wondered, “What if…..?”  Usually when we do that, we are feeling a bit sad or guilty or somehow regretful, which is not healthy or helpful going forward.  I’m not saying it isn’t good to determine what we can do better or differently, but I am saying that feeling guilty or regretful simply keeps us stuck in the past rather than helping us move forward.  So what happens when you don’t know what to do better or differently or how to reach your goals or to be happier?

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What would you do if you did know?  What would you do if you did know how to be happier, how to reach your next goal?  You see, I believe that you actually do know, because you have an innate ability to tap into the many resources in and around you, and the only thing that holds you back is the fear of not knowing, or of making a mistake, or perhaps as or more likely, the fear of getting exactly what it is you want, i.e., the fear of success.

So the next time you are thinking about how you can change your life and your internal voice keeps saying you don’t know what to do, ask yourself, “What would I do if I did know?”  I can just see you now, getting a smile on your face as the answer hits you and you immediately begin to put the answer into action.  And then the ball just starts rolling, and rolling….  How cool is that?

More Than A Hollywood Philosophy

It’s hard to believe how time flies by.  Most of us have certain memories that seem from long ago while others seem like they were just yesterday.  One of the most interesting things to me is that some things can seem like a long time ago as well as having happened just yesterday.  That’s all the time we have for that, though I could go on forever.

Have you ever noticed that when someone says something that catchers your attention, you seem to think about it again, seemingly “out of the blue?”  Isn’t it amazing how the mind works?  Having had an interest in the mind and behavior for most of my life, I have studied many theories and philosophies and have come to the conclusion that there is so much more to learn.  I also know that I have learned many valuable lessons and practices that serve my clients and me quite well, and that, even the most practiced need reminders from time to time.

The mind processes language in a variety of ways, which along with our emotions and other related factors, determine how we react or respond (behave) in given situations.  Some words are simply ignored by the mind, which can cause us to misunderstand an intention spoken by another.  When that happens, it creates a mutual misunderstanding, which can cause a chasm between those involved.  Not good for rapport to say the least.  They may “try” to do better the next time, but that could makes matters worse.

When at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?  Wrong!  Trying has never accomplished one desired outcome.  Trying is simply making an attempt.  Why do you think Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” to young Luke Skywalker?  Because Yoda knew, as any good Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner knows, (and in Yoda’s case, a Master Practitioner), that the mind understands “try” to mean, “to make an attempt.”  To “try” at anything will never get you what you really want.  You must do!  Even Nike® understands you have to “Just Do It®” because they know that to “Just Try” would never cut it for Michael Jordan or anyone else they were going to sponsor.

So the next time you hear yourself saying, “I’ll try….,” catch yourself, smile because you did, and then tell yourself to go do whatever it was you were intending to do. Imagine yourself succeeding, and then imagine yourself having succeeded. It may take some practice, but you will find that you can accomplish anything you want to when you do.  How cool is that?