This picture was sent to me by Terri, a friend of Margie and mine. In a world where there appears to be a lot of darkness, it can often feel uninspiring. I am often asked how people can remain positive in a world that seems bent on making sure we are surrounded by negativity. This is a really good question. It can be difficult. It used to be that you would have to to seek out negativity. This could be by opening a newspaper or turning on a television. Now the negativity follows us. It will even send us a little alert in our pocket. “Hello, negativity here. Come see what is wrong with the world.” It might not be that straight forward, but will disguise itself as a social media notification. Worse yet, everyone else is subjected to this same negative atmosphere and will be happy to walk up and share it with you. Many times you do not have to even ask.
How then, with all of this negative influence, can we hope to have a positive, and amazing, life? The answer is almost counterintuitive, we must give one. This isn’t a post about the law of attraction or a testament to the biblical saying of “As you sow, so shall you reap.” It does, however, give credence to both. I am going to give you two quick and personal examples of the application of this strategy in real life.
I have told this first story on this blog and in my second book, Living the Dream, but it bares a quick recap. There was a point in my life that I was facing the loss of a job, personal problems at home, a car that was breaking down and other life-altering problems. They began to consume me and I had a hard time seeing any solution. In an effort to get out of my head, I decided to put in extra time at a meal program I volunteered at. I did this despite the fact that I may very well need it in the not so distant future. Two things happened that day. First, I saw people in far worse situations than I was in with far better attitudes. Second, I realized that I had a gift to serve and to inspire others. By giving the people that came that day not only the gift of food, but of respect and kindness, I could see their burden lighten. In turn, that lightened my burden as well.
The second example is more current and ongoing. As most of you know, during the day I work for the United States Postal Service. This is an institution that seems constantly gripped with staff shortage, political upheaval, and a general feeling of stress. The employees are often pushed to do as much work as they can until they, or their bodies, give up. All of this often happens in a combative and stressful work environment. Honestly, this could be greatly improved with some communication and appreciation. Unfortunately, by the time someone is in a position of management they can be too bitter to offer much of this. The result? Workers and bosses find themselves fighting against each other all while trying to accomplish a near impossible job. This can all feel pretty hopeless on any given day. My solution? Be the one who brings the communication and appreciation. I am constantly letting people know they did their job well, or offering a bit of encouragement. Sadly, I am often told that I am the only one who does so. One of the greatest feelings is when you hear the lines of encouragement you offer repeated by those who have received them.
I like to think of a dark room. What happens when you flip a light switch? The darkness disappears. The same can be said with kindness. Start with just one person and soon that light and that kindness will begin to spread. You will help create a positive world around you.