Counting down to my last day when I would officially end my corporate career of two decades and uncountable experiences, I reached out to all those who made an impression on me, whose opinion mattered, to officially (and personally) say goodbye. The conversations that followed had one thing in common. I was told to “keep that smile on and keep giving positive energy to others”. :)
I don’t consider myself to be an all-around positive person every single second, but to receive a feedback like that sparked a little epiphany in me.
This past year I have been listening to people around me inadvertently complain about their broken expectations and disappointments in life. I realised that poor attitudes and negativity often arise because people forget to see the big picture. I also realise that there is an incredible desire in us to find excuses for every situation; sometimes even putting blame on others even if it’s nobody’s fault.
Bad or negative attitudes at workplaces are easier to deal with as you aren't emotionally connected to them. In your personal space, it’s an entirely different animal.
Here’s a quick challenge: Close your eyes and imagine a situation when you encountered the most negative attitude at home, from your loved one.
Was it excessive criticism? Lack of trust? Negative rumination of your past? Or perhaps the constant comparison to others? Or maybe something else that hurt you the most.
Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, said it beautifully more than 2,000 years ago: "People are disturbed, not by things (that happen to them), but by the principles and opinions which they form concerning (those) things. When we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles and opinions.”
Sometimes we cannot change our situation or the people around us. We can most definitely not change attitude of others. But what we can do, is change our own attitude to respond. When you think of negative thoughts or expect negative responses, you develop a negative attitude.
So, how do we control what goes on in our heads?
I’ve had my share of negative thoughts and emotions. Observing mindfulness worked wonders for me. Mindfulness is our ability to be fully aware of where we are and what we are doing.