Marie sat in the doctor’s office waiting for the doctor to reveal the results from her tests. She’d been feeling poorly for some time, but couldn’t quite put her finger on what was wrong. When the knock came at the door, she braced herself as she called for the doctor to enter. He walked in with a solemn grimace on his face, sat down in the chair opposite Marie, adjusted his glasses and shuffled through his paperwork.
“Marie, I’ve known you a long time. But that doesn’t make it any easier to tell you this—”
“Am I dying, Doc? What is it?”
“Well, that’s the strange thing, Marie. All your tests came back normal. But I have an idea as to what is making you feel sick.”
Marie’s heart raced. “What is it?”
“You, Marie. I believe that your negativity is poisoning you.”
Have you ever had a moment like Marie when someone looked you in the eye and told you how negative you are? Do you have people in your life who share an essential truth, whatever it may be, with you? How many people can you consistently count on to sharpen you with honest feedback about your attitude or habits of thinking and working and interacting?
The Choice of Negativity
Negativity starts with a choice. Maybe not a conscious choice and certainly not a wise choice, but always a choice. As you repeat that choice, negativity becomes an entrenched and conditioned reflex—a reaction to your circumstances and the people in your environment. The result is a toxic atmosphere that’s fatal to your spirit and quite possibly could gradually be poisoning you and those around you.
As you reflect, you may not be able to pinpoint a specific time that the negativity began. Maybe it started with your upbringing? Maybe it has grown from the books you’ve chosen to read, the shows you’ve chosen to watch, conversations you’ve chosen to engage, or from thoughts you’ve chosen to entertain repeatedly? Perhaps it took hold in a certain relationship. Positivity is not an accident and neither is negativity.
For negaholics, as time wears on, it’s easy to over-identify with this pessimism and cynicism and weakly accept it as being a part of who you are. When someone points this out, you will be likely to just shrug it off and say “It’s who I am. If you can’t love me for who I am, then I don’t need you around.”
But you do need these people around.
To stay positive, you need positive thoughts, positive people and positive exposures of every kind. The people who encourage us and sharpen us with constructive feedback move us another step closer to fulfilling our God-given potential. Those who leave us alone to rehearse and replay our grievances enable us to settle for less than our best. What kind of friends do you really want?
The friends who challenge us and patiently stick with us but insist that we make changes, that we upgrade our lives, will ultimately be considered the greatest of all friends. These are the people we might be tempted to push away because they tell us things we don’t like to hear.
Being negative is like voluntarily swimming in a stagnant pond of toxic water. If you continue to hold negative thoughts, participate in negative conversations, and feed yourself negative mental nutrition, the inevitable result is terminal negativity. But no one every arrives in this predicament by chance. Along the way, negative people reject the positive people in their lives and the ideas and habits they possess.
Who would ever knowingly choose to swim in a contaminated pond when their was a neighboring pool of crystal clear water available? Each day of our lives is filled with similar choices, where we can shape our future with very obvious decisions.
Choosing to be Positive
So what does it take to stop negativity cold turkey? Will you have to see the damage in your children or your spouse before you change? Will you weaken your career or forfeit your dream opportunity because of negative thinking? Today, start making different little choices to be positive.
After all, being negative and cynical is easy. It is the cheap outlook on life, taking no effort at all to produce. It is the default emotional reaction of the masses that’s in sync with the culture we live in.
Think about it. There is always justification for being negative and justification for being positive. It boils down to a decision on your part. Will you focus on what you have or what you don’t have? Will you focus on what’s missing or what’s present? Will you focus on your problems or your possibilities?
Each day we have the opportunity to swim where we want to swim. We create our own pond.
Life is a mixture of good and bad, but the world we live in is our choice and our choice alone.
Everyday we have a choice: embrace negativity, or embrace joy! Many people think that WHEN their life gets better, they will have more joy. But the truth is this: When you have more joy, you have a better life! The 40 Day Joy Challenge is an online course that produces better habits, stronger relationships, and greater joy in less than 9 minutes a day. Sign up to begin your journey here.