A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but how you feel about the rose depends on how you describe it. If you say, “I have to smell those roses,” you communicate a different message to yourself than if you say “I GET to smell the roses.”
There are so many great books and blogs written on the power of positive thinking. But for me, it is always hard to put these theories into practice. I read all this great stuff and then I have trouble assimilating it into my life. Recently there has been a rash of how-to books on the subject. Here is a hodge-podge of postive philosphies distilled into 7 practical steps:
- Identify the words you are using to describe your life to people. I had not realized how many times I have made myself a victim of my life! Not only in shouldering the burden of tasks I did not have to take full responsibility for, and extending myself too far, but also in the way I viewed what I was doing. Negativism always crept in. I was not smart enough, or fast enough, or I did not say the right thing. It took me a long time to realize that I was in control – I did not have to make myself into the victim of my circumstances.
- Change your dialogue with yourself. The one word change from “have to” to “get to” recommended by Michael Hyatt in How A Shift In Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude has reinforced the different perspective I want to have on my life. I am not the victim! I am privileged to live my life. I have taken the first step to eradicating the negativism that was hiding outside my conscious thoughts. This practical step leads to having a positive attitude. In my constant battle to overcome the negative thoughts that seem to be ingrained in my personality, I have become my own best cheerleader. I am choosing to frame my life and the work I do in positive terms. (I GET to write this blog!)
- Be Impeccable in your word. After saying positive things about my own life, negativism still spreads through what I say about other people. Check out the book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Author Don Miguel Ruiz first dissects the web of lies that has been created by society and then reveals the steps we must take to eliminate our needless suffering and find the joy already present in our lives. The first step is to only speak the truth. This step is harder and more all encompassing than it appeared at first blush. It is difficult to eschew the existing rubric and not try to make myself feel better by pointing out someone else’s failings. Other people’s success does not diminish my accomplishments. I should be happy for them. And lavish praise. As Maxwell Smart the bumbling secret agent in the spoof GET SMART would say, “If only we would use our words for Good instead of Evil.”
- Comparison is the theft of joy. It is easy to look around and see what other people have and find my life lacking. It is hard not to be jealous of another’s good fortune. But I realized I am only seeing a snapshot. I see an instant in the life of another and determine that in that instant they are smarter or richer or more accomplished or have sold more books than me. But I have no idea of their history; what kind of struggles they went through to achieve what I see. Nor do I know what troubles may lie in store for them.
- Find the fun. In shaping my world with the positive words “I GET to go to work today”, I open the door to thoughts of all the things I LIKE about work. As Mary Poppins says: In every job that must be done//there is an element of fun//you find the fun and SNAP//the job is a game. I realize there are many things I do like about work including the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. Further, I work (or dabble) in all kinds of fields, and I LOVE writing and gardening. Washing the dishes is a hard job to love, but again attitude changes the task. Cleaning up is a time for meditating on the great meal just eaten and the wonderful conversations shared.
- Find the bright spots. There is a great book (I can’t remember the name, nor where to find the memory enhancing and triggering exercises that would help me remember) that provides an in depth study of a few companies and institutions that were failures, The book examines how those companies were turned around to become successes. The management looked at what parts of the operation actually were working well – the bright spots -and then examined the factors that contributed to that accomplishment, however small it was. Rather than criticizing all that was going wrong, focusing on the bright spots provided models for successful business methods. A rubric and goals were established based on these small successes and the whole company improved.
- Increase the bright spots. Just like connecting the dots, identifying what made something in my life successful helps me translate those ingredients into other areas that need improvement. Since I probably can’t fill my day just doing all the jobs I love to do, I will take that energy and think positively about the jobs I don’t love. My goal is to find some joy in all jobs to make completing those tasks bright spots too.
© Jane F. Collen March 1, 2016 IndexCardCure small practical steps to a happier life