Method #1: Put More Attention on the Positives than the Negatives
You have plenty of reasons to be a pessimist. Just look at the news! Political battles, stock market fear, war, crime, riots, bankruptcies . . . take your pick.
If the world’s problems are not bad enough, consider your own problems with money, stress, relationships, work and progress toward your goals. It can seem like everything is going wrong. Yet, maybe the biggest problem is in your mind.
Fortunately, you CAN change your mind. You can switch your game from a bad thing into a good thing by paying more attention to the positives.
If your attention is stuck on negatives, maybe you can at least move up to 50/50 with half of what you think about is positive and half is negative. If you can do that, you can boost the positives a bit more to 51% and higher. Once you do that, you ARE lightening up.
1. One simple way to see the positives is to ask yourself, “What is right about __________?”
You are being sued by a former partner Zeke and life has gotten very serious. So instead of stressing out, you ask yourself “What about this lawsuit is actually good?”
After thinking it over you find one answer. “I’ve figured out to not do business with vain, selfish people who think only of their personal glory.”
As you have only lightened up a little you ask yourself the same question. “What about this lawsuit is actually good?”
You soon think of a few more answers. “My lawyer is awesome.” “Zeke doesn’t want the business, just money, so I’ll end up with a terrific business.” “Even if I lose, Zeke can’t touch my retirement account.” “Zeke can’t create anything new, so I’ll get busy on some new ideas he will never profit from.”
You feel lighter and less concerned. You get busy on an exciting new project. You can’t stop smiling.
2. Another approach is to use the “but” technique.
When something is stressing you out or making you too serious, add “but” or “however” to the problem and add a positive statement.
“I might be sick . . . BUT I love this bed.”
“My wife and I had an argument this morning, . . . HOWEVER we are excited about our vacation to Hawaii next month.”
“My car won’t start . . . BUT the weather is nice today.”
3. Label all the negatives as “temporary” and all the positives as “permanent.”
Like a footprint in the sand, most negatives wash away if you let them. Likewise, you can make positives into permanent aspects of your life.
Your neighbor Joe’s dog barks all night. You can consider this bad condition will never change OR you can expect it will soon end.
“Joe is a nice guy and I’m sure he doesn’t want me to be bothered by his dog. After all, it’s only been one night. I’ll ask him about his dog the next time I see him and we’ll sort it out.”
Or “I can accept the barking as part of this neighborhood and not let it bother me; now I can sleep no matter what.”
Or “That dog is pretty old, so this is a temporary problem . . .”
As another example, your retirement fund investments drop by 25%, you may think, “OH NO! &*#+@^%! I’ve been saving this money for 20 years and now it’s disappearing. I’ll never be able to retire!”
Yet you change your mind and consider the loss to be temporary, as something that has no real impact on your future. “I’m not retiring for 10 years, so why worry? It’ll recover at least once by then. I won’t sell my investments.” Soon, your savings total reaches its highest-ever level.
As a final example, you hate your cravings for sugar (or cigarettes, alcohol, etc.). You decide the craving is temporary and replace it with a permanent habit. “Each time I want something sweet I’ll get on the treadmill for a five-minute brisk walk.” Your craving disappears each time. You make this exercise solution into a permanent habit. Because you consider the craving a temporary problem, and the brisk walk a permanent solution, the craving eventually stops.
Add an Action Step
What can you do to put more attention on the positives than the negatives?