We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~Carlos Castaneda
Negativity. Pessimism. Defeatism. The proverbial glass half-empty. We all experience moments in our lives which cause us to look at the world with the feeling that “everything is awful.” A person close to me, who tends to be pessimistic, particularly when things don’t go his way, is going through a personal crisis right now and, just yesterday, did in fact say “everything is awful.” And, not in the way we all normally grouse about this or that, but with total conviction. Everything is awful.
As someone who has generally been more optimistic, more hopeful and more focused on how to cope with, and embrace, adversity and change, I truly believe in the power of our own mind to alter our mood and influence our outlook. I am also blessed with an amazing network of people, both family and friends, who feed my heart and soul with all the energy and magic of human connectedness (you know who you are and my gratitude is great). So, it’s frustrating and sad to deal with people I care about who steadfastly choose to settle into despair and who choose isolation from others, when I know the power of thought and intention and the strength of the people in our lives during times of need.
Think about it. In your own life, you know people like this, too. And, if you think about it some more, you’ll realize that, often, these people seem to attract the very adversity and challenge they believe the Universe is set on foisting upon them! As they see it, things happen to them and “I can’t help it” is their rallying cry. More than one self-help guru has put forth the notion that while there are many, many things in this Life we cannot control, the one thing we are always in control of is how we choose to react to these things. Our reactions and responses begin inside ourselves and “I can’t help it” is merely a distraction from possessing our ultimate power as a human being–the power of critical and complex thought, the power of choosing how to behave.
I don’t like to be seen as someone who preaches or lectures but I do have the desire to help people and try to be inspiring. I have found, however, that the response that often follows an attempt to shine a light on things for the more negative individuals is the despondent, “Whatever.” “Whatever” means all kinds of things–I’m not listening, I don’t care what you just said, shut up, I’m right, you’re wrong, I don’t want to talk to you anymore–and not one of them is good. “Whatever” stops communication in its tracks. Game over. Incidentally, today I am going to announce the complete eradication of “whatever” from my discourse (unless, of course, I am doing my Valley Girl impersonation).
My father went through his own personal crisis many years ago and, during this time, embraced the teachings and philosophies of Dr. Wayne Dyer. I resist much in the self-help world because I feel it can be hackneyed, trite and formulaic, but I find Dyer’s views approachable because they so simply reveal the power of thought and intention in our lives. This morning, as I thought about my friend and his mindset, I marveled at how hard-wired negativity really does seem. It’s tempting to believe that some people maybe truly “can’t help it,” and I was struck by the tragic irony that the people who bemoan the lack of a positive outcome possess a thought pattern that will relentlessly discourage it. Dyer’s newest talk, ‘Wishes Fulfilled,’ is airing now on PBS and this morning, as I looked up the listing times, I ran across this short, concise snippet of one of his previous talks. He admits that his hook, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” sounds cliché, but then he talks very directly about the logic behind this catch phrase. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch it because it’s simple and wonderful inspiration for a Monday. It also fits in perfectly with what I have been telling my children for years… Life is a 16 oz. glass. That’s a fact. I don’t know what’s in it–water, wine, coffee or tea–but I do know that every single one of us only ever gets 8 oz. Well, you know the rest. Drink up, friends.
TRY THIS WEEK: Push back a funk. Change your mind.