Recently, I saw the quote from Mary Lou Retton that, “Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.”
Now I will say the opposite is also true if you are a negative, the-world-is-against-me type of person. Guess what? If that’s how you are, the world will be against you. Why? Because you are a making it hard to be around you. Yes, you are causing the few people who can abide you to find other options for dinner, the movies or a day at the lake.
We all have a few friends who see the world through smudged, dirty glasses, and from their perspective, everything is on the downward slide. They feel like they never get a break, they make the call and no one calls them back, they do the work, and no one says thank you, they offer to do a good deed, and no one takes them up on their offer, so the cycle of their frustration continues. They believe they have much to offer and yet no one seems to care.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out when you or your friends became negative people. You most likely didn’t start out that way. Granted, if your parents were always bellyaching about the world, their job and their friends, you might be predisposed to view the world with hesitation. But you are not your parents, and you can change your attitude from negative to positive if you are willing to work on yourself.
I’ve noticed that negative people never seem to believe they are the cause of their misfortune. One would think that after a few months or years of always being left on the sideline, that perhaps they would come to see that the problem isn’t with the rest of the world; the problem lies with them.
Those are the times I wish a light bulb moment of clarity would click on. Unfortunately, it seems that our negative friends are so used to sitting in the dark they have lost the know-how or the willpower to flip the light switch on for a positive beam of inner light.
By now you have heard every late night want-to-be motivational speaker tell you that if you smile the world will smile back at you. And while that might be true if you’re handing out jars of Nutella or Hershey dark chocolate candy bars or Mallo cups (my favorite) to friends, family and strangers, unfortunately, the real word doesn’t usually work that way.
That being said, I stand by the line, Sometimes you have to fake it until you become it. Happiness and optimism help you see the bright side of life.
I’ve also found that the strongest foundation for lifetime success and happiness is built on gratitude. It is hard to be a negative person when you are sincerely grateful for the goodness and kindness of others (even if they fall short of all your expectations). Being grateful for what has been done is a great start on your happiness meter.
In my book, gratitude is one of the key ingredients of happiness and optimism.
This summer many of our young people will take mission trips or some sort of good deed adventure to second and third world countries and some to big cities and the boondocks. And the one thing that always thrills me is when they get off the bus or plane from being away and the eyes-wide-open effect of the abundance of all they have here at home. For some kids, it is life-changing to see how others live and for others it is a renewed appreciation for family and friends and–let’s be honest–the things that make their life easier like clean water, air-conditioning, food that looks and tastes familiar, a soft bed and a familial sense of safety.
Hard to be negative when you stop and think about all you have been blessed with. Granted, you may not have all that others have, but you most likely have enough, and because you can, in a sense, breathe easy, optimism affords you happiness and that in turn will most likely bring good things and good people to you.
I like the Merriam-Webster definition of optimism: an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.
The thing I have found about optimism is this: When you stay positive and have a good or kind word for others instead of dumping your misery and woes out on your friends, the good people will stay and help you through the hard times. But that is only developed when you push past the negative and constantly seek the light. Is it easy? No, not by a long shot. You know that life hurts, people hurt, lost opportunity hurts but nothing hurts you more personally than your loss of optimism.
A while back, I was at the store and ran into someone who receives my newsletter and podcast. When they saw me they immediately started in on how bad their life and luck were, and within minutes I was deluged with stories of their sad sack life and all the people who had cheated, hurt and abandoned them and what did I think they could do about it? Honestly, at that moment all I could think of was a line from one of my favorite motivational trainers, Jim Rohn.
“When dealing with people, I generally take the obvious approach. When someone says, “This always happens to me and that always happens to me. Why do these things always happen to me?” I simply say, Beats me. I don’t know. All I know is that those kinds of things seem to happen to people like you.”
I don’t know why that line makes me laugh. Maybe because it is true Eeyore, “Those kinds of things seem to happen to people like you.”
And while I did not have an answer for the person in the store, I’ll admit my sadly lacking words of wisdom were, “Hopefully things will get better for you.” Really, what else could I say standing next to the watermelon? Not sure that was the right time or place to tell them to knock it off with the negativity and tales of woe and give me a list of ten things they were grateful for, although, in hindsight, that might have been a better answer than what I gave.
So how do we help our friends change for the better or at least become more optimistic? If we believe that if you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you, then we need to gently remind them that they have most likely had success in the past, and if it has happened once, it can happen again (albeit with a significant attitude adjustment). And really, what do they to lose by trying to see the good side of life.
Jim Rohn also said that “…the attitude of other people affects each of us and the attitude of each of us has the capacity to affect all of us.” And I would remind our friends that the negative vibe that they give to others could be the only thing standing in their way to affect the goodness of others who would love to help them get on their feet and start walking in the direction of their dreams.
I have found the key to moving my negative friends to the positive is by not letting them dwell on their negative issues. I will, within seconds of their bellyaching, move the conversation to other lighthearted topics. I also have started inviting others to our engagements so they can’t take over the conversation with their emotional neediness and in some cases, I have just had to limit my contact. It is not that I don’t care; I just don’t care to listen to problems without the slightest thought of a solution.
The fact is, for us to be strong, we need to stand guard and protect ourselves from the atmosphere of negativity. We show wisdom when we do not allow those with a negative predisposition to burrow into our lives and cause us to question the optimism and happiness that we have worked hard to develop in ourselves.
Many times, the best way to show love and concern for others is to love them from a distance and to be a guiding light as they work to find their way to success.
The theme for today has merit; it also has truth. So by keeping to the optimistic side of the street, I believe that happiness, and good things and good people will appear and we’ll all be better off.
“Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.