Many of us forget that we have a choice in how we view the world. Imagine how different our experience would be if we believed the world was full of interesting people and lots of opportunity instead of filled with people who are out for themselves. It would feel much different wouldn’t it?
Knee-jerk negativism can be seriously detrimental to your mental and physical health. Spend time listening to the conversations around you during your work day. I guarantee you that 99% of them will be fear-focused—fears about what may happen, what’s not working, interpretations of what the actions of others may mean, and reiterations of what isn’t possible. Whether these ideas are accurate or not, you go through exactly the same emotions you would if they were true. Negativity drains you. Literally.
When you’re surrounded by negativity it is difficult, if not impossible, to see opportunities. You’re so conditioned to looking for the bad that you automatically filter out anything that contradicts that idea. It’s not surprising, especially when you look at those who influence our world, and in particular, the media. It has become increasingly focused on negativity, partly due to the advent of the 24/7 news cycle where bad news draws much higher ratings than good news.
Because there is so much information coming at us and we have so many demands upon our time, we don’t always think about the perspective of those who are providing information—whether they’re newscasters, peers, friends or family—it just seems easier to believe whatever they’re saying. Do so at your peril. (How’s that for drama?)
It takes effort to remain positive and open in the face of relentless negativity. But it can be done. It’s a habit, like any other. The first step is becoming conscious of your environment and the influences you allow into your mind. Consciously challenge them and think about the perspective of the people providing information before you choose what you want to believe.
Are coworkers who constantly focus on what isn’t working trying to justify why they’re not succeeding? Are they looking for reasons not to try different things? Are they threatened by the very idea that trying hard could achieve results? Or is it just a habit with them?
Negativity is an energy vampire. Emotions, attitudes, and perspective are contagious. Be careful what you choose to focus upon so that you can reserve your energy for people, activities, and ideas that fill you up, not deplete you. The upside is that not only will you benefit, you’ll be able to spread your positive energy to others.