Insider Exclusive: Staying Positive, Even When Things Seem Negative

Insider Exclusive: Staying Positive, Even When Things Seem Negative

By Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF

A friend of mine bought a new condo recently. When we went to see it—and it was beautiful—he pointed out everything that was wrong with it, and what he didn’t like. Instead of focusing on the things that were right about the condo, he focused on the things that were wrong about it.

Are you like that? Do you focus on the things that are right about what you have and what you do, or do you focus on what you don’t have or don’t like about what you have?

I see a lot of people who do that with their job. When I ask if they like their job, most people don’t gush about all of the great things. They don’t say, “I love it! It’s so close to home; the boss is so pleasant and easy to work with, they give us free coffee and a fair bit of flexibility.” Instead I hear, “It’s pretty good, but I do have to work overtime, which I’m not paid for. And I’m at the bottom of the list to get my vacation-time approved, which means I never get prime time off like Christmas or summer, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get promoted here.”

They focus on what is wrong with their job, not what they like about it. The same way my friend did with his new condo.

Having a positive lens on life is a choice. You can choose to see what is working well, or you can choose to see what isn’t good enough.

                                  "We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
                                                                          Anais Nin

I choose to see what is right about my life. I’ll bet you want to see that too but don’t always know how.

When I pointed out to Phil that he was focussing only on what was wrong with his new condo, he immediately back-pedaled and said he wasn’t trying to be negative, he was being humble. He didn’t want people to think he had a perfect life, a perfect home.

Now, just so you know: no one really thinks your life or your job is perfect. We are all aware that there are things that are not exactly the way you want them to be. You don’t have to point out what is wrong with your life, to other people. We all know that the lovely, perfect images we see on Facebook aren’t a well-rounded look at your life, or anyone’s for that matter.

And to Phil’s point, it’s true that we shouldn’t brag about what we have or what we do, either. I wouldn’t want Phil to say, “This is the best condo in the city. It is far better than your house, or anyone else’s.” Any more than I would want a friend to say, “My company and my job are better than yours!”

Choosing to look at the positives in life isn’t always easy, but it is something most of us can work on.

1. Force yourself to find one positive thing for every negative thing you naturally see. For instance, if you are frustrated that you are on the bottom of the list to get your vacation approved, find something positive about that, like the fact that an off-season vacation would be less expensive and less crowded. If you don’t like that your workspace cubicle is in the open, you could, instead, focus on the fact that that allows you to create better relationships with your co-workers.

Recognize when you say something negative and force yourself to find something positive too. Some of your answers will make you laugh, and some you won’t believe, but it will help you get in the habit of seeing the bright side of things.

2. Keep a positive environment. There is so much negativity in the world these days that it is very hard to stay positive. Someone is always complaining about the weather, the government, the price of oil, or the cost of living. Spend time with positive people and have positive conversations. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you spending time with people who are positive and who see the good things in life, or are you spending time with negative people who seem to be stuck in the muck?

Ask yourself who the three most negative and three most positive people in your life are and consider how much time you spend with them. Are you with more positive people than negative people or vice-versa?

Think about where you get the bulk of your information (social media, online news, television, etc.), and really examine it to see if your news feeds are sending you more negativity or positivity. Adjust as required.

3. Learn to breathe and refocus when things go wrong. Just because you weren’t successful in keeping a positive mind and attitude once doesn’t mean you are always going to be that way. Catch yourself when you stray, take a deep breath and refocus to be more positive.

Traffic is something that many people find frustrating; drivers often have a hard time staying positive when they’re in the middle of a traffic jam. You may find that you are listening to the (typically negative) news while you’re driving, that you’re frustrated because you’re not going the speed limit, and that you’re worried you’re going to be late to wherever you’re going.

Take a deep breath. Forgive yourself for starting to panic. Refocus. Find a positive in the negative: traffic is slow because of construction, and that construction will soon make your route much better. Also, construction is a lot better than someone having had an accident—at least no one got hurt and everyone is going home tonight.

Staying positive, even in negative situations, won’t always be easy. Sometimes it won’t even be possible. But even if you are successful only half the time, you will be 50 percent more positive than you were before you tried.

Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF, is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame, trainer, and author based in Ottawa. She helps organizations feel motivated and educated through her interactive, reality based, and fun training programs and keynote speeches. If your company needs a boost, then Rhonda will get you ON THE RIGHT TRACK. 1-877-213-8608

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)