Always Be Positive

It’s a worthy aspiration, but many would say that it’s over-optimistic because our moods are determined by circumstances largely outside our control. There’s no doubt that it’s often difficult to be positive, especially if we’ve recently experienced a traumatic or sad event like the loss of a loved one or a business failure. Indeed, we should seek professional help, if circumstances induce serious depression. In most cases, however, a negative mood is more a nuisance than an illness. The cause is usually vague, yet the effect an unrelenting, rumbling sense of unease; unpleasant, like an upset stomach. Its demotivating effects alone make common problems seem daunting. It may not warrant medical intervention, but if we had some system for turning a negative mood positive, our lives would be transformed.

A good mood improves our professional and social lives, not just because we feel mentally and physically well, and have more energy, but because mood has an important side effect: it’s contagious. When our mood is positive, it lifts the mood of everyone we deal with – family, colleagues, customers and suppliers – which further boosts our own mood, improving every aspect of our life. When our mood is good, we’re better equipped to handle stressful situations, we enjoy our leisure time more fully, and our social relationships are more satisfying.

All this may be self-evident, yet it raises a question that has important implications: Without external intervention, can we control our mood? Unless we suffer from a serious medical condition, the answer is an unqualified “yes.” The biggest problem for many of us is that we don’t believe it, and so, don’t take even the first step towards gaining control. That’s a pity because it doesn’t require a great effort and the payoffs are enormous.

Controlling our mood begins with a daily routine – a habit (see my blog about the power of habits: “The Winning Habit”). Ideally, the routine should be done before we communicate with anyone else. That means immediately we get out of bed. I call this process “positive priming;” others may use different terms. Its purpose is to get into a positive frame of mind before facing the world. Priming is vital whether our contact is face-to-face, by phone or in writing because our mood is conveyed by how we look, how we speak and even how we write.

The specific priming method varies from person to person. Some people read inspiring, wise quotations (see my blog “Magic Words: How Slogans Transform Your Life”); some prefer poetry, others humor. Whatever the method, we should be fully relaxed before starting. Ironically, we’re not always fully relaxed when we get out of bed; jumbled thoughts of our persistent problems, plus remnants of our dreams are nearly always there, all vying for attention like a class of excited children. That’s why pre-priming relaxation techniques like meditation or listening to classical music are useful. They don’t eliminate noisy thoughts, but they push them to the back of our mind, where they no longer make such a din. That frees up a space at the front of our mind for more relaxing and pleasant thoughts, the kind induced by priming.

Regardless of how positive we become, however, it’s unlikely that everyone we encounter during the day feels the same. Rather than let another person’s bad mood contaminate ours, we should treat it as a double challenge. First, it tests our resolve – how deeply embedded our own good mood really is. Second, and more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to subtly shift their mood from negative to positive. We can do that in a number of ways, especially by not reacting to their negativity, even if they’re antagonistic, and by being overtly understanding and even complimentary. It’s amazing how a glum, even aggressive person responds to that approach. Initially, they’re somewhat thrown by our resolute good humor and the fact that we don’t “rise to their bait.” Then slowly, without realizing it, their mood softens.

The more we practice being positive, the more it becomes a habit, and the more people perceive us as “a sympathetic ear” and want to deal with us. That satisfying shift dramatically enriches our professional and social lives, not to mention theirs. The pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, William James (brother of novelist Henry James), famously said, “Our greatest discovery is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.”

Jeff Robinson

Contrarian’s Mind

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33 thoughts on “Always Be Positive

  1. Harry Garfinkle says:

    The article Always be Positive gives everyone who reads it a healthy way to proceed in our daily life. It does take some effort to develop this positive approach and it is a very valuable tool in dealing with people in our personal,business and working contacts.Following the slogan of William James will insure that we always put our best foot forward.The world we live in today has many chalenges for us to face and this positive attitude will insure we make the best decisions possible.

    Like this

  2. Quora says:

    What is the best way to stay positive?…

    ALWAYS BE POSITIVE It’s a worthy aspiration, but many would say that it’s over-optimistic because our moods are determined by circumstances largely outside our control. There’s no doubt that it’s often difficult to be positive, especially if we’ve rece…

    Like this

  3. Tashia says:

    Thank you for sharing this info! I will browse your blogs about the power of habits and inspiring quotations. I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and productive life!

    Like this

  4. Curvin says:

    No matter how hard our life can be, we must remain positive. Worrying will not take us anywhere. The benefits of carrying a good mood can be massive. We must infuse ourselves with the positive energy that can give us the courage to change our destiny.

    Like this

  5. SMart says:

    Excellent article. Yes, when individuals are happy, they generate a feeling of cooperation amongst those they surround them. On the other hand, a person with a negative attitude seems to constantly sap the energy from others. Positive people live longer and happier lives. The happier you are, the more productive you will be.

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  6. Brendan says:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information. As a Buddhist practitioner, I agree with the views exprssed in the article. By falling into the trap of negative thinking, you are starting to follow a very unnecessary and painful path.

    It is very easy to fall into this trap because of our negative past experiences and current personal problems. Negative thinking drains you of positive energy, as it keeps you in the past, and unables you to look at the future in a clear and comprehensive way.

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  7. Vane says:

    I love your site! Being positive can help us to prevent and minimize the effects of stress, which can have very negative consequences, as it can decrease levels of motivation in employees. This, in turn, can decrease productivity. Lifestyle plays a very significant role in this respect. Therefore, taking the necessary steps to control our mood is essential to experience both professional and personal growth.

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  8. Marlon says:

    I look forward to reading more of your articles. Your blog is awesome.

    With the current economic recession, maintaining a positive attitude can prove to be very challenging. People need to start being more appreciative of the positive aspects of their life and those around them. Being in a bad mood can only make them feel more miserable.

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    • Hi Marlon and thank you. Love your comment about the current economic mess and I agree with you. Once the psyche changes and we start to become more positive the tide will turn…All the best.

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  9. Winston says:

    Feeling positive about life can improve the way employees interact with others. It is a fundamental aspect of teamwork. If employees feel appreciated, they will be more motivated and will undertake tasks more effectively. Feeling appreciated and recognized is a very essential human need, as psychologists like Abraham Maslow highlighted in their studies.

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  10. Bushaw says:

    Without a doubt, one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject of positive thinkings. Increase your morale, start developing effective communication and interpersonal skills with others, and you will see how your life changes for the better! Both at home and at work.

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  11. Juliane Ritt says:

    I agree with the article %100. Attitude affects all aspects of life, including the workplace. A bad attitude, however, could be detrimental for both individuals and the organizations they work for. Maintaining a good attitude enables employees to maximize their working potential, as being positive enables them to accomplish tasks in a faster and more accurate manner. In addition, they help the company by helping to create a healthy work environment, as moods spread fast in organizational settings.

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  12. Darnell Arcia says:

    When people are in a good mood, they have a more positive attitude and greater optimism. All managers and leaders should consider this. There is a need to incorporate positive thinking into organizational culture in order to have motivated employees that can complete tasks more appropriately. Fostering an environment where cooperation between team members is crucial to achieve success!

    Like this

  13. [...] Exercise has the additional benefit of reducing stress, but it’s a good idea to practice other relaxation techniques too, so that we can feel energized and rejuvenated to face the world in an optimistic mood every day. I’ve written a separate blog on that subject, so I won’t elaborate here. The blog  is called “Always Be Positive.” [...]

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  14. [...] Good habits are powerful enablers. (See my separate two blogs: “The Winning Habit” and “Always Be Positive.”) We owe it to ourselves to break the chains of mental and physical clutter. When they’re broken, [...]

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  15. MelanieLM says:

    Moping doesn’t accomplish anything, and spreading negativity makes people not like you, even if they don’t know you. It seems ‘uncool’ to be positive these days, and yet people hunger for it. I find some people seem to feel guilty about being positive and upbeat, which I find sad. The best way to give others permission to be positive is by demonstrating that habit yourself.

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  16. Taranu Cosmin Andrei says:

    About this article I have to say there should be the perfect balance between realism and idealism. Yes, you have to be positive, indeed, but at the same time you have to be aware of the circumstances which surround you, otherwise you will not solve anything, you have to cope with the circumstances with calm.

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  17. Debbi S. says:

    In my quest to bring more positive attitude to my life, I’ve purchased a Motivational Quote per day desk calendar. I read the quote in the morning, then flip the page over and write my to-do list on it. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I can flip it back over and read it again, like a mini-mantra for a positive day.

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  18. Anya R says:

    A great article to remind us that We can eliminate Negativity that surrounds us in our daily routine. Colleagues, family, friends all surround us with gossip, complaints & negativity. One of the main aspects of great leadership is to develop a habit of positivity & to assure that it shines through in everything you do! Life is full of messy situations & people that are filled with negativity. Lets not forget, that life is also filled with many amazing things, so lets stop concentrating on the pathetic/little/negative aspects of life, and start developing & sharing a Positive Outlook!

    Like this

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