Negativity seems to be surrounding us every day.
Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino – there always seems to be something new and scary that hits the news just about every day.
Negativity also hits us at work with layoffs, benefit cutbacks, and other decisions that affect personal income.
People on the street don’t wave at each other like they used to back in the day. Smiles are becoming few and far between.
For many, the negative world has become the “new normal.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When you know how to stay positive in a negative world, you can take back control from the darkness.
You can decide that you will be happy.
You can decide that you will wave, smile, and be positive. Here’s how.
#1. Moments of Perfection
Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
We see the things that we’re looking to find in our world today.
With so much information coming your way, a negative perspective becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All you see are dark moments in a dark world and it slowly saps your hope away.
When this occurs, a change in perspective is all it takes to turn negativity into positivity.
Instead of looking for or expecting the negative, seek out the perfection which still exists within the imperfection of our world today.
Look for the helpers who run in to provide aid during a disaster.
Watch for the young father who stands in the middle of the crosswalk, telling his kids to stay in the painted lines to be safe.
Times and seasons will change, but that doesn’t mean the moments of perfection cease.
When you see positivity in others and in the world today, then you render positivity to others.
When you pursue positivity, it will inspire others to strive for it as well.
So how do we seek out these moments of perfection when the world seems so imperfect?
By avoiding negative influences.
By always finding something good in the people and events which happen, even when they seem so dark that it hurts your heart.
By giving thanks in all things.
By being content in your circumstances instead of looking at what others have and desiring it.
Every moment has something perfect about it.
Seek out that perfection and the darkness of negativity will begin to fade away.
#2. Pursue a Dream
Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Many kids want to be astronauts, presidents, firefighters, police officers, and doctors.
Each of us when we were kids, imagining what our adult lives would be, would picture a dream scenario and then seek to fulfill it.
Then life got in the way.
Maybe your grades in school weren’t good enough.
Maybe you decided that you could make more money as an IT specialist instead of as a firefighter.
You stopped wanting to be an astronaut when you discovered that your fear of heights was crippling.
Some people do achieve their dreams.
For many people, however, the failure to even pursue a dream creates a dark realm of negativity that always stays there on the horizon.
A question hovers: “What if?”
You can still pursue that dream. You can answer that “What if?” question.
Let me give you an example.
A friend of mine went to college on an athletic scholarship to play football.
In the first week of practice, he tore up his knee and had to quit the sport he loved for good.
The injury was so bad that he had to take 8 years to full rehab that knee.
Then he got something in the mail.
It was a request from a professional team to have him come for a tryout.
It was something that he’d always wanted to do, so he decided to do it.
In his words, that week was the worst week of his life. He injured his knee again.
The local press printed his picture in the paper for an opinion piece about why amateurs shouldn’t try to be professional athletes.
For 24 hours, the image of his injury played on ESPN. He sat in his home for a month and didn’t move.
Then another opportunity came his way.
He and his wife went for the next trial and turned it into a vacation.
They saw all the sites. They had expensive dinners on the beach.
On the final day of the trial, he was the oldest guy left on the field by 10 years.
In that final day, there was one moment of perfection where he says he executed everything perfectly.
In that moment, he realized that he just proved to himself that he could compete at this level.
He had answered that “What if?” question and was satisfied with where his life was.
Answer your what ifs.
You’ll be amazed at how removing that uncertainty will alter your perception of how positive your life happens to be.
#3. Give the Benefit of the Doubt
Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. Zig Ziglar
Would you describe yourself as a pessimist or as an optimist?
The fact is that you can be both.
When you encounter a situation, you can choose to be optimistic about it or you can choose to be pessimistic about it.
Every choice you make is based on whether you’re going to give the benefit of the doubt to that person or that situation or you’re going to trust yourself instead.
When we’re only willing to trust ourselves, it means we are fearful of letting go of our control over matters.
Although there’s nothing wrong with being in control, it does become a problem if worry and fear appear when others are in control.
It can be difficult to trust people, especially if you grew up in an environment where trust was lacking.
If you were forced to care for yourself and grow up too fast, then you’re going to see the world differently when compared to someone who had parents give them everything they needed.
It’s also true that when you give someone the benefit of the doubt that they can use your actions to cause hurt and pain.
By keeping control or by staying pessimistic, you can effectively limit how much damage others can do to you.
Yet playing it safe also has consequences to it. You become isolated.
The few friends you do have may only speak to you occasionally and will rarely ask a favor of you.
Your world becomes going to work, coming home, and even within your family you wind up one day feeling like you’re all alone.
The greatest rewards come when we’re willing to take a risk.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a risk – let’s be honest about that.
People will fail you. It happens. They will hurt you. They don’t always do it intentionally, but it happens.
Yet when you let go of that need to be in control, you open yourself up to more relationships.
You become part of the world instead of isolated from it.
You don’t wind up feeling like you’re alone, even in those moments when you really are by yourself.
By choosing to be optimistic about people and circumstances, fear and worry cannot have control over you.
In return, even though there may be a risks, you will find yourself feeling more positive about life every day.
#4. Choose Gratefulness
The worst times can be the best if you think with positive energy. Domenico Dolce
Gratefulness is an interesting concept.
We often feel grateful when things seem to be going our way.
Think about it.
You’re grateful about a promotion. You’re grateful about a big pay raise. You’re grateful that you get to spend time every day with the most amazing spouse or friends in the world.
When was the last time you were grateful about the fact that a child died of cancer?
Or that terrorists blew up an airport?
Or your boss told you that if you didn’t get your work done on time, you’d be fired?
Or for that divorce?
Now when cancer takes a life, yelling “Yay cancer!” or when terrorists strike you say “Awesome construction on that bomb!” is ridiculous to the utmost extent.
Let’s be clear: when tragedies and disasters strike, it is healthy to be angry, pessimistic, and experience grief – in those initial moments.
It’s the aftermath of these terrible things that happen in this world where we can find gratefulness.
We can be grateful for the positive impact a child had on so many people as they fought so bravely against such a terrible disease.
We can be grateful for the heroes who save lives when unabashed evil comes along.
We can be grateful for the reminder of a good paycheck.
We can be grateful for the opportunity to find someone who will love us for who we are and not for the person they thought we should be.
It can be extremely difficult to choose gratefulness.
Yet we can choose to have a willingness to sacrifice for others.
We can choose to be humble and content.
#5. Give Freely
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow Helen Keller
Giving freely can take on many forms.
You can give someone struggling for work a few extra bucks so they can buy lunch.
You can put a $20 bill in the church offering plate.
You can put your spare change in the donation box that sit at so many checkout stands.
You can give a waitress your credit card and pay for someone’s dinner just because.
There is a certain joy which comes from giving to others that cannot be replicated by anything else in the world today.
That joy is even greater when you give without drawing attention to yourself.
The fact is that when people give to a charity or volunteer their time and then promote that fact to the world, they aren’t trying to help others.
They’re trying to help themselves.
Sure – people benefit in the short-term with the extra help or extra cash, but the purpose of giving people those things is selfish at its core.
Selfish charity is never as affective as work that comes freely from the heart and expects no reward.
Think about it: let’s say two people are asking for donations to help underprivileged children.
One person has a jar for you to put cash into because they’re out tutoring, while the other person is banging a gong and shouting at everyone that passes by.
Who gets your donation? Does either one get a donation? Why?
Giving freely is inspired by those who seek no recognition for themselves.
Its one desire is to produce results.
In return, you can rest assured that you have made a small, but positive change in the world in that moment and sometimes that’s all you need to get through a tough day.
#6. Avoid Negative Habits
You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind. Joyce Meyer
There are certain habits which are always negative, but many of us have these habits and don’t think twice about them.
When we gossip, complain, or try to tear others down, we might justify those actions by saying that we’re building ourselves up in return.
We’re not. When you tear someone down, you’re tearing yourself down as well.
Insulting people, lying to people, or even spreading rumors that might be a half-truth at best are all ways we embrace negativity every day without realizing that’s what we are doing.
And because misery loves company, when we see others indulging in these negative practices, we find ourselves following along because we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that two negatives can turn into one positive. It cannot.
A positive life is impossible to achieve if your mind is focused on these negative habits.
Now if you can ignore these negative influences and stay focused on positive actions, then go for it.
Be the light in the darkness for others to see and maybe you’ll encourage positive changes in them as well.
If you struggle to ignore negativity and you feel the desire to participate, then get into the habit of leaving that situation.
If someone is willing to talk negatively about others to you when they’re not around, then there’s a good chance they will talk negatively about you to others when you’re not around.
Negativity is like yawning. It can be highly contagious and you don’t realize you’re participating until you’re already doing it.
Avoid these negative habits as often as you can and you’ll discover positivity might be right around the corner.
#7. Be Faithful
Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James
We meet our physical needs. We meet our emotional needs. Why don’t we place the same emphasis on our spiritual needs?
Each of us has something which we believe that empowers us to be a little better every day.
For some, it is religion or faith. For others, it is the need to help other people to improve humanity.
Even having faith in scientific principles can be just as powerful as any other belief.
So often we fight over these beliefs because the nature of modern spirituality is to prove that your belief is right and the beliefs of others are wrong.
In some ways, humanity has always been that way.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be this way.
Be faithful not to some theology or dogma or system of ideology, but to yourself.
Believe that life can be positive and you will begin to create positivity.
Have an open mind and listen to other belief systems and your beliefs will become stronger for it.
Listen, learn, laugh, and love.
In these things, we can all be faithful and positive no matter what it is that we believe is right for our spiritual needs.
There will be times when we will want to embrace negativity.
There will be times when you have no desire to feel happy. This is natural.
This type of negativity only becomes a problem when you allow it to continually dominate your life.
Sometimes we need to feel angry and negative to inspire the changes we need to make in our lives.
Choosing negativity every day, however, is not healthy.
It is a destructive darkness which will rob you of everything if you allow it to remain in your life.
If you can stay positive in a negative world, then you can fight back against the darkness and take control of your life.