I find that even the most happy, grateful, and thankful people I know still have buttons that can be pushed to send them spiraling towards a negativity free fall. Those moments leave you choosing between being a negative and panicked person, or rebounding with a smile. Use these four tools to avoid letting those moments derail your otherwise positive day.
4 Tools for Avoiding Negativity at Work
I find myself most days confronted with a decision, conversation, or split second event that changes my entire attitude towards the rest of my day. Dealing with the reality of my entire perception of the world hinging on a split second is a little tough for me to come to terms with. Like many people I have read the research, listened to the speakers, and tried to alter my perception of the world to find my version of happiness.
Yet here I am. Completely decimated by the day altering moment when I get cut off in traffic, my toddler fails to listen to me, or my corporate office pushes down an initiative I am sure was designed to simply make my life difficult. I should be ready for this. I live in Florida where cutting people off in traffic is actually taught in drivers education, and is almost an art form perfected by the retired masses to remind us that they are still the greatest generation. Creating systems of positivity designed to push me past these moments has been a focus of mine for quite some time now. I have taught others to change the way that they look at the world, yet in the blink of an eye my sweet baby girl will cause me to simply fake happiness for the rest of my day while my blood boils because she has decided that every question should be answered with the word “tata”.
One of the themes of most researchers, practitioners, speakers, and followers of positive psychology is that the more genuine your gratitude is, the more likely your perception is to change the world around you. Somewhere in that thought is the reset button that I have been looking for. Finding a way to have enough genuine gratitude and thankfulness built up to weather the intense moment of personal negativity would be great, but finding some reinforcing tactics to support that pivotal moment may be more practical as I continue my journey of personal growth.
The following are a few rules that I follow to turn the corner on even the most irritating situation:
Phone for Reinforcements – It seems like everyone has a cell phone these days, particularly anyone that may be reading this. I have found that if every day I change my wallpaper on my phone to a new photo of something I am grateful for I truly discover reasons to be thankful for that moment or person all over again. When I am confronted by one of those moments or people that threaten to ruin my positive outlook on life, I simply take a moment to click my phone on and enjoy my inspiration. The key lies in the deliberate act of establishing a point of gratitude or thankfulness.
Blow Sunshine – Too often I find people only want to talk about the negative things in the world, and how they are victims as a result of things they most likely have no control over. As a diehard Cleveland Brown’s fan, most conversations about this purely recreational topic end in the obvious observations of all the things that are wrong. I used to get involved, now I am that guy that always puts a positive spin on things. Just today the Brown’s first overall pick in the draft broke his hand in practice. The doom and gloom started flooding out of the internet from my friends, and it was all I could do to not join. 2 quarterbacks and 2 promising draft picks injured in two games is horrible…….but now we get to see what talent we may have hiding on the bench. That sixth round pick Tom Brady turned out to be OK when he got his shot. Keep looking for the positive in every situation and you will never be brought down by the negative.
Kill With Kindness – When you’re a hotel manager people only ask for you when there is a problem. We are taught early on to listen empathetically and then respond positively with a solution. For some reason when I leave work that goes out the window and the first negative person I meet sends me into a tailspin. Lately I have been trying to apply the same practices to my personal life, so when I meet someone that tries to introduce negativity into my otherwise positive life I have worked to simply kill them with kindness. Respond in a way that reflects their negativity, and counters with your positive attitude as opposed to simply sinking to their level.
Choose Your Lens – The world has become very connected, and there is a constant 24 hour a day stream of happenings across the globe being sent right to our TV’s, smart phones, and tablets. The lens you choose to view all of that through will dictate your view of the world. Years ago I chose to simply stop watching the news, and I also don’t set it as a home channel on any TV in my hotel. The media makes their money these days by proliferating the most inhumane, negative, and disturbing stories that they can. Take control of what you take in to change the lens you view the world through. I have several news apps on my phone, and I stay connected to the world by scanning headlines, stories, pertinent events without getting sucked into the tabloid like news reporting that fills most media outlets these days. Be informed, but be selective and you will find that a headline won’t derail your chance at happiness.
It would be ideal to have a strong gratitude shield with me at all times to fend off the attacks of the world around me as I continue on my journey of positive growth, but the reality is that some days I leave that shield at home. These thoughts have helped me make those important split second decisions between being happy, and getting engulfed by the negativity surrounding me.
I’d love to hear about any tools you use to fend off those moments of negativity.
Principal JLH Leadership Solutions