EEYORE SYNDROME REDEFINED

This is an exciting post for me to write. Why? In doing so I am able to share with all of you how wrong I was in my way of thinking in a certain are. Why is that exciting for me? Because when you learn life takes on a whole new exciting feel. This is beginning to sound confusing so let us get right into the story I want to share with you.

Above we have the loveable character Eeyore  from the children’s book series Winnie the Pooh. I must confess here that I have been, and continue to be, a big fan of this loveable bear. He embodies to me a lot of the traits I strive to have in myself. A laid back, go with the flow attitude, the ability to get along with pretty much everyone, a good imagination, and a generally positive attitude that things will turn out for the best. It is perhaps this early childhood influence that helped shaped the person I am today. Certainly his appetite and general physical build has also found its way into my life. Difference being as a general rule I do wear pants most of the time.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading one of the House at Pooh Corner stories, let me explain who Eeyore is. He is a donkey with an attitude the opposite of Pooh. He tends to see the worst in a situation and assumes most things will turn out bad, which for him they often do. This could be an early example of the Law of Attraction, but I do not wish to speak for the author’s intent.

Eeyore, although a good friend, is one of those people (or in this case donkey) that will find the single cloud on a sunny day. Do you  know someone like that? Maybe a friend in your life? When I encountered people in life with a sunshine challenged disposition I referred to them as having the Eeyore syndrome. It was my way of giving a not so nice character trait a less offensive title. This went on for about 25 years or so of my life.

Enter my friend J.D. who is not only an amazing singer, but a great aspiring author and a man who spends a great deal of life using the ability the Creator gave him between his ears. We were discussing Eeyore one evening at one of the shows Margie and I do. When I told J.D. how I think of negative people as having the Eeyore syndrome, he pointed out a great fact I had missed. In the stories Pooh, Piglet and all the other characters who have a generally more positive outlook still accept Eeyore. More importantly, they do so without trying to change him. They do point out the positive side of life to this lovable donkey, but then instead of trying to get him to think like they do, they just lead by example remaining positive in the face of the most challenging situations.

I had to take a moment and reflect. Not only did I miss this point in the story itself, but I had missed it in life as well. Often, when I see somebody who has difficulty finding the light in life, I do my best to show them a better way of thinking. Perhaps a better approach in the future would be to just accept them as they are and lead by example. By seeing my mistake, I now have a new and perhaps better way of reaching more people. That is why it pays to surround yourself with great friends and fabulous childhood stories!

Don’t think about it

Everyone has heard of the value of positive thinking. In fact one of the best books one can read is “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. That being said there is a problem with positive thinking. I believe it was Tony Robbins who said “The problem with Positive thinking is you have to think about it” What we need is a change in perspective. You must train your brain to think as many positive thoughts in a row. Our brains have been trained since birth to find the problem in any situation in order to fix it. This kind of thinking sure does have its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. First, it keeps us focused on what is ‘wrong’ with any situation in our lives, which in turn prevent us from focusing on what is right and beautiful. Second it creates neural pathways in the brain that keeps us focused on our problems instead of our blessings. It has been said that people routinely focus on the ten percent that is wrong in their lives to the detriment of the ninety percent that is right. Initially that sounds hard to believe, but just imagine having a toothache while on a vacation in a tropical paradise you have won and you get the idea. It is not our fault that we think this way. When we are young our parents teach us what not to do and how to address problems that may arise in life, which is surely good advice. Then in school far more intention is placed on correcting our deficiencies than growing our talents. The same holds true in the working world. So how do we change this life-long way of thinking? Start employing several of the ideas listed here especially the one in the post entitled ‘Start out easy’ which will help us focus on the positive aspects and events in our lives. Second, here is a fun game you can try with yourself. The first time I tried this is shocked me how ‘badly’ I did. That being said remember you are fighting against a learned behavior that has been ingrained over years, decades, maybe even longer. So be patient with yourself. The idea here as with all of my posts is to have fun while working your way towards a more amazing life. Here is the game. Try to think as many positive thoughts as you can in a row. These can range from “My what a beautiful garden” to “I am so grateful for my dog”. As soon as a negative thought pops up you must start over. You will be surprised at the amount of negative self talk going on inside your head. Again, be patient with yourself. When I first started this I thought to myself “Hey Mr. amazing life blog writer, Mr. happy book author, you’ve got this” My personal record for the day…five. Yes that’s right I could not get past the fingers on one hand. So why play this game? To depress us with how negative our thinking really is? No, to begin to retrain our brains to incorporate the positive as well as the challenging. Life is all about balance and dancing around like Mary Poppins is not going to help us learn and grow. That being said neither is sulking like Eeyore. One other interesting fact that I happened to notice is how insane some of the negative thoughts that honestly would pop up in my head without me even noticing. I think if counting how many times I called myself stupid, dumb and countless other things in my own head during this test I would’ve needed fingers and toes. Not only did I notice those thoughts as ‘ruining my streak’ but noticed how ridiculous they sounded. I made a mistake and was usually harder on myself than anyone else it affected was on me. So be patient with yourself, have fun with this and let’s see if you can beat five!