As we face uncertainty in unprecedented measure every single day it can be hard to find the positive, forget about mustering the need to sustain it. Everything is Simply. Hard. Now. The irony is I am a “glass half full” gal! But this challenge is worth pursuing because it is needed now more than ever.
I’m not going to get loquacious about hope, positive psychology, or even optimism. Though they are favorite topics of mine. Instead I want to be helpful in a practical “let’s-get-to-the-point” way.
Most people have heard or read the following:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Gandhi, Lao Tzu, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the father of Margaret Thatcher, and others have been credited with different versions. But, that is a lot to be mindful of and these are trying times. Heck, sometimes it’s hard to remember what day of the week it is! So, if you are committed to being more positive in thought, word, and deeds, I’m going to distill it for you in 4 easy words…
LISTEN TO YOUR WORDS.
It’s simple really. Listen to how you describe events or characterize someone. Are you uplifting, edifying, supportive of others and situations? Or do you put a negative spin to it? For example, “I went to the hardware store and they are still struggling with all the new protocols put in place. Oh, and they must still be having trouble getting supplies because I couldn’t get everything on my list. The clerks were really trying but there were some very impatient customers.” Or is this how you sound, “I don’t ever want to go to the hardware store, again! Nobody knows how to drive, the store was out of 3 things I needed, lines are too long, and the clerks are stupid. I had to wait 7 minutes to check out!”
Speaking of “stupid” or “jerk” or “*#*@!$*”, or … if you use that language even once to describe someone or an event, you have your answer: You are not a positive person. In some circles, you would be classified as a jerk. And a big one, too. The oldest book of wisdom even tells us, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b). When my children were young pre-teens and share a story at dinner about some event that irked them at school, “Susie did this to me…” I would ask, “what would their story sound like at dinner, tonight?”
Oh, and venting to someone doesn’t abdicate you from being kind in thought, deed, or word. Why would you vent your jerk-ness on someone you love? Yes, you can express your frustration. But don’t ever disparage someone. Even the person that cut you off in traffic. It happens. Maybe their wife was giving birth. Maybe they didn’t see you. Maybe they were texting and could have caused an accident but it didn’t happen.
Give others the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise you are at the same level at the jerk you’re frustrated about.
Here is the good news: you can change your words right now. Not next week or tomorrow. But right now. I challenge it to try it for 3 days. Just 3 days. If you slip up, you get a do over. Just start the 3-day challenge, again. Speak with hope and optimism. Speak positively. Or don’t say anything. It’s that simple. And when you do you will feel a difference. And the difference will be positive.
“Your soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”