Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finding The Cloud In Front Of Every Silver Lining

I have a family member who can find the cloud in front of every silver lining. She is a good person, and means well. For her, though, the fear of running up against obstacles overwhelms her, and she can find even the most obscure reason to be pessimistic. Before she begins a new task, she can cite the reasons why it will not go well! Some would brand her as being insecure.

Many people live their lives that way. To them, negativity is a constant companion. We would not think of telling a cancer patient to "get over it." We are told, therefore, that we should not expect a person who is suffering from clinical depression to just "get over it." Yet, we find it difficult to endure those people who see the world, not through rose-coloured glasses, but foggy grey ones.

Clinical psychologist Dr. S. K. Sharma comes close to saying "get over it." But Dr. Sharma takes a different perspective. This lifestyle advisor says that, before you can become a positive person, you must have the desire to be positive. You can only do that if you are convinced that becoming positive will enhance your quality of life.

That is not the issue with many people who endure their own negativity. They believe. They just don't believe that the option is available to them. Those people need to begin the process gradually, placing themselves in controlled situations where the outcome is most likely to be beneficial. Positivity breeds positivity, and the person can build on small successes.

Similarly, once the "gloomy Gus" experiences a series of uplifting events, he or she should begin placing himself in situations where the outcome is less certain, but the negative consequences are minimal. In these environments, the person can control the outcomes, and recover. Again, success feeds success, and overcoming negative consequences often will stimulate confidence - an essential ingredient lacking in many naysayers.

Many times, the negative outcomes are fed by our own inputs. If we have lower expectations, we broadcast those expectations, subtly, in our posture, our mannerisms and our words. Develop a habit of using positive words, of showing confidence and positivity in our posture and movements. Those cues will be picked up by others, and, often, negative situations will be averted.

Take an interest in the world around you; particularly, in other people. Letting others know you find them interesting is a sure-fire way for them to reciprocate with positive actions and words toward you. Few people enjoy commiserating with someone who perpetually espouses negative opinions, or who talks incessantly about their own issues.

As a child, I read an anecdote that remains with me five decades later. Two young women are talking, and the first says to the other, "I'm so happy. I'm marrying Bill."

"Bill?" says the second. "I thought you told me a few months ago that Jim was the most wonderful person in the world."

"That's true," replied the first. "But when I'm with Bill, he makes me feel like I am the most wonderful person."

Keep the company of positive, uplifting people, and you will develop the endurance to enjoy occasional interactions with those less enthusiastic about life. After all, birds of a feather...

Be realistic about your expectations. Die-hard Cleveland Brown and Toronto Maple Leaf fans start each yesar with the unwavering belief that their team will win the championship that year, even when the team finished last the prior year, and no personnel changes have been made. That optimism is admirable. But, certainly, even those pessimistic fans are sure to be disappointed when their team fails, once again. Set goals that are reasonable, but not too low. Be realistic, too, about your own successful conversion to optimism.

One of the hallmarks of someone who is depressed is lethargy. Similarly, those who think negatively often decline to become engaged with life. By not participating in potentially negative events, one cannot be disappointed, right? Wrong. Inactivity leads to more feelings of failure. Get up. Get going. Try. Share a joke. Read uplifting plots and novels. Watch uplifting shows. Get involved with others. It is difficult to brood about failure when you are engaged wholeheartedly in an activity.

Most of all, be appreciative. You have life. You have relative health, relative security, if you compare your situation to others world wide. Enjoy what you have, instead of being morose about what you do not.
As you move slowly from feelings of negativity to a more uplifting outlook, your attitude, like a locomotive rolling downhill, will pick up steam, become unstoppable. See? Even going downhill can be a positive experience!

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