I was listening to a great speaker friend this weekend, Nikki Bush, who shared the story of her home invasion in Johannesburg. It was a life-changing experience on its own, but she went on to explain that in the six-minute invasion, her husband had been murdered. It was a jaw-dropping story, yet she had the most beautiful way of sharing how to be resilient. I was in awe of her ability to find the positive in a horrific situation.
On the other hand, I was focusing on what was going wrong in my life, and I instantly felt guilty about worrying about my vacation home in Fort Myers. I had been closely watching Hurricane Ian, the evacuations, and the eventual destruction when Nikki’s story had me put down the phone and listen to what she was sharing.
While I was thankful we were safe, and our home suffered minimal damage, I was immersed in all that was wrong with the hurricane. I focused on the negative for me, my community, and the local businesses. I was self-absorbed and distracted.
It is human nature to focus on our own negative experiences, and although I can see some good things that will come as a result of Hurricane Ian, I am a little too close to the fallout right now. It is horrific to see, and there is much death and destruction everywhere.
So, I spoke to Nikki about her approach and attitude. She shared she has had five years to move past the anger, frustration, fear, and unknown. When it happened five years ago, she could not see anything positive in her life. It took her a long time, and some days she still struggles, but she is determined to focus on the positives.
I understand that, and it made me feel better about my self-absorption in the negativity.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”C4Z5t” via=”yes” ]Do you know how to stay positive, even when things seem negative?[/ctt]
Having a positive lens on life is a choice. Nikki was able to move forward and make that choice. I know that although it has been only two short months since my mother died, I’m now able to see the good things that have come as a result of her death. I’m glad she isn’t suffering; I’m glad she never knew she was dying of cancer. I’m glad she isn’t wasting away in a hospital bed. She wouldn’t have wanted that, and although I didn’t want her to die, I knew that was the best for her.
But we do need time to make that choice to find the positives because I certainly couldn’t make it in July when she died, which means that it is okay that I can’t do it now for Hurricane Ian either. I know that in time, we will see the good that comes from the bad (much like we did after 9-11).
Choosing to look at the positives in life isn’t always easy, but it is something most of us can work on.
- Force yourself to find one positive thing for every negative thing you naturally see. For instance, I know that as a result of the destruction, many jobs will be created to compensate for those lost jobs.
If you are in a job you hate, can you say that although it isn’t a positive experience, at least you are getting a paycheck until something better comes along?
Recognize when you say something negative and then force yourself to find something positive. Some of your answers will make you laugh, and some you won’t believe, but they will help you get in the habit of seeing the bright side of things.
- Keep a positive environment. There is so much negativity in the world these days that it is tough to stay positive. Someone is always complaining about the weather, the government, the price of gas, or the increased 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 positive people who see the good things in life, or are you spending time with negative people who seem 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 examine it to see if your news feeds send you more negativity or positivity. Adjust as required.
- 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 will always 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 driving, that you’re frustrated because you’re not going the speed limit, and that you’re worried you’re going to be late for 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 construction will soon improve your route. Also, construction is a lot better than someone having had an accident—at least no one got hurt, and everyone is going home tonight.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”U6geL” via=”yes” ]Staying positive, even in negative situations, won’t always be easy. It will always be worth it.[/ctt]
Staying positive, even in negative situations, won’t always be easy. Sometimes it won’t even be possible in the moment. But even if you are successful only half the time, you will be 50 percent more positive than before you tried.
I was motivated by Nikki’s resilience. She taught me that there are things that we can do to see the positive side of anything that happens in our lives. It won’t be easy, it will take time, but it is possible.