I was having lunch with a friend of mine today and he was really down. Admittedly he had good reason to be down as the chips hadn’t really fallen in his favor. He had been moody and grumpy and was just generally upset about the situation he had found himself. Of course there was little I could do to help his situation, but I tried to be upbeat and give him advice that I find useful–think about the positive and focus on the end goal.

Once a situation has happened there are two things to think about:

  1. What to do to handle the immediate situation.
  2. What actions or changes need to happen to ensure the situation does not repeat itself

This is a lot like taking responsibility for your mistakes, but it is equally important to do when something goes awry. Ever mistake or problem can be handled in this manner. Handle the immediate issue at hand, then analyze and understand the problem to figure out a way to prevent it in the future.

Most people, and my friend in particular, can have the tendency to fall into a downward spiral (in fact, I think I sometimes fall into that category too!). It is easier to dwell on the problem than actually think through it, focus on the positive, and tread forward. Yet, it is amazing how having a positive outlook can make a huge difference.

There are lots of books on the power of positive thinking (Think and Grow Rich! and The Secret are two that immediately come to mind) and while some of it can seem a bit like hocus pocus there is definitely value to this line of thinking.  I know that when something goes wrong and I focus on the positive it helps me power through the negative.  For example:

  • It is easier to deal with something bad when you are thinking about things that are good and upbeat.  By refocusing your energy you are pushing your efforts in a more productive and positive area.
  • No one likes being around someone negative.  When you are working with issues with other people, like your teammates, it makes it much easier to be collaborative with someone who is upbeat and assured.  Misery may love company, but no one wants miserable company.
  • People like being around positive people.  Kind of obvious, but something I have learned time and time again about charismatic individuals.  By being someone upbeat and positive people will be naturally drawn to you and want to be around you.  Who wouldn’t want to be more liked?
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.  Sometimes it is hard to see, but it is there.  By searching out the good outcomes or side effects of a negative situation helps me look at things in a different light. (Different perspectives can be hard to see so if you have trouble, ask someone else for their perspective)
  • There is always a chance for personal growth.  I am huge believer in constantly growing and getting better at all things in my life.  Any time something goes wrong I see it as an opportunity for me to learn from the mistakes and incorporate those lessons to other areas of my life.

Of course there are lots of other reasons to be positive and think positive (just take a look at the aforementioned books if you don’t believe me as both are filled with anecdotal stories).  So next time you are in a situation that is not in your favor, try to reframe the situation and focus on the positive aspects.  I hope it works for you the way it does for me 🙂

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