Is the glass half full or half empty? Does your environment affect how you view the glass? It certainly does, and that’s why you need to be surrounded by positive people. The effects of positive thinking can be astounding.
If you’re a Saturday Night Live fan, do you remember the character, Debbie Downer? No matter how festive the occasion, Debbie always found a way to bring any party to a crashing halt. She was frequently sharing negative facts and statistics which usually caused those around her to become depressed.
Many times, I enjoyed a good laugh at the absurdity of what Debbie said and when. Probably you did too.
Funny as Rachel Dratch was with that character, those skits can help you to understand an important life lesson. You become the people you are around, whether positive or negative.
Even if you are generally upbeat and happy, it will not take long for a negative environment to bring you down and make you sad and depressed.
Don’t let that truth get you down. The good news is that by surrounding yourself with happy and positive people, you will see the effects of positive thinking. You will likely also notice a marked improvement in your view of things.
Quote of the Week
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs
Learning the Effects of Positive Thinking
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I began to see the power of other people’s mindsets on me. I wasn’t blind to the fact that negativity breeds negativity, but I wasn’t willing to look at my life and see what type of influences I had in my everyday world.
For the most part, I am a happy person. Ask the people who know me, and they will tell you that I’m generally smiling or laughing no matter how bad I feel. There are times when I complain and vent with the best of them, but overall, I strive to keep my conversations and interactions positive. As much as possible, I make a conscious effort to smile and be a pleasure to be around.
It was also in my thirties when I finally found a way to cope successfully with my mental illness. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was also during this period when I began struggling with chronic illness. That diagnosis wouldn’t come until nearly ten years later, though.
Taking stock of my life, I began to realize that my speech and behavior were being affected by the people I was spending time around. Even my motivation to do projects at home was being negatively impacted.
I was becoming a negative person, and I wanted to know if I could improve through the effects of positive thinking.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, is there anything you can do? How can you stop that trend?
In time, I decided to try a little experiment. For three months, I limited my contact with the people I knew that are generally negative.
The impact was undeniable. I found myself laughing more, being more productive, finding more enjoyment in everyday life, and even sleeping better.
Seriously. It was that big of an impact.
Now I’m not saying that I then proceeded to cut every negative person out of my life. That would not have been wise or kind, especially since some of those people mean a great deal to me.
There is one friend, and I will not use her name to protect her feelings, who was then by far the most negative person I knew. She was my Debbie Downer. No matter what good came into her life, she always found fault and complained incessantly.
One time she was in the process of moving from one house to another. A group of her friends got together and helped her move the bulk of her things so that she would not have to hire movers.
Those of us who were not available to help then got an ear full for weeks after about how things were not moved carefully enough or how they were not placed in the right place in her new home. Not surprisingly, there ended up being a lot of hurt and angry words to follow.
Even with all of this, we remain good friends. Nearly twenty years have been invested in our friendship, and that is not something that should be quickly tossed aside. At the end of the day, we both know that the other will be there if ever needed.
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I’m happy to report that my friend has changed dramatically over the years. While she is still prone to slip into a negative tirade, for the most part, she has found ways to be more positive and less vocal about the negative aspects of life.
In the time in between, there were times I found it a necessity to avoid her. It was the only way I could maintain the effects of positive thinking.
Living with chronic and mental illness often leaves you down and discouraged or just plain frustrated with life. Talking to my friend on those bad days made me feel even worse.
I can’t say for sure that it was my setting boundaries that helped my friend to change. We did talk about her negativity and why there were times I didn’t take her phone calls or answer her texts. Whatever the case, I am very proud of her for the changes she’s made since.
When you are setting boundaries, it’s equally important to look at your choices of entertainment in addition to your friends. Are the movies and TV shows you watch dark and depressing? Is the music you listen to full of anger? How do you feel after spending time reading a book or browsing social media?
Just like people can hold much sway over your mental state, media and entertainment can do the same. Be sure to choose wisely.
Negativity is like poison, like squeezing a drop of ink into a glass of water. The more ink you add, the more clouded the water becomes.
There are times when that poison is not so easy to see. You can become accustomed to the way a person talks or acts, and that “normalcy” can be accepted.
However, just like the ink changes the water, you are being changed as well. The effects of positive thinking will help you to clear that water again.
How can you identify the need for change in your life? Ask yourself a few questions.
- Are my friends generally laughing and smiling or complaining about something?
- When we go out to eat, do we talk about how much we are enjoying the meal or are items sent back and complaints made to the wait staff?
- How do I feel after spending time with my friend? Am I happier and more positive or is life dark and gray?
If you see some unhealthy trends in your current circle of friends, it may be time to take action. For better mental and physical health, you need to limit the negative in your life.
Making Difficult Choices
Not all of my friendships survived my transformation. There were a few negative individuals that I did cut completely out of my daily life. It was a hard choice because I care about all of my friends, but when I saw how my mental wellbeing was being impacted and that they had little or no intention of changing, there was no choice but to end things.
Though those choices were painful, the effects of positive thinking have been worth it. Not only have I found myself happier and more productive, but I also have the added benefit of much less drama in my life.
It’s a funny coincidence that negativity and drama seem to go together. Perhaps that’s a good topic for my next post. In any case, coping with illness makes putting up with drama very difficult. It’s essential, then, to have as little as possible.
For most of my working life, I have worked in some sort of customer service industry. Usually, it was the type of business where I got to see the same customers on a regular basis. Frequently, there was the opportunity to spend considerable time with them.
That environment gave me another chance to test my theory about the effects of positive thinking. I began to watch closely as some negative customers came in or called into the office. After the interaction, I watched to see if the attitudes or behavior of my colleagues changed as a result.
Again, the results were undeniable. The days that started with the negative customers were much harder days and much less productive overall.
On the other hand, I wanted to see if positivity could make a change. Each morning I made it a point to walk in with a smile on my face. I would greet each of my workmates and often say it was going to be a great day.
It sounds like a really simple thing to do, but it really did change things. The days that I didn’t try or just didn’t feel well enough to be happy and smiling, there was a very different atmosphere in the office.
This week, take the first steps to identify the negativity in your life. Spend a few minutes in honest, self-evaluation and really contemplate how you are influenced by the people in your life.
It’s important I warn you, though, that you may find the worst negative influence in your life is you. If that’s the case, what can you do?
Resolve to start today to change that. If Debbie Downer pops up into your mind or in the words coming out of your mouth, stop her as soon as possible. Smile, and find something positive to say or do.
Many people, myself included, find that practicing gratitude helps them to stay positive. If you need some encouragement to be more grateful, be sure to read the post Spotlight on Gratitude: 15 Inspiring Quotes to Make You Stronger – Part 1
In conclusion, personal improvement is an ongoing process. You will never master everything, so it’s important to keep working on yourself. Find the areas in your life you need to change, even if that means changing who you spend time with or where you go. Then again, if you learn to cultivate the effects of positive thinking, the people around you may change for the better as well.
The effort is worth it. You will see benefits both mentally and physically if you get the ink out of your water. As you make progress, please come back and let me know by leaving comments below.
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