Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On positivity

I am an optimist. You have probably picked up on that by now, dear reader.

My mum raised me with the much repeated advice that if you don't have something positive to say, don't say anything at all.

I then moved into a career which is, essentially, about convincing people to do things, and I learnt quickly that if you focus on the positive when telling them their idea is pants they will be more inclined to do what you say.

Looking on the bright side has become second nature to me, to the extent that I wonder whether its in someway genetic (it just feels too fundamental a part of me to be entirely due to nuture).

But when I look at the rest of my family I see that I am quite easily the most positive person. In fact my lovely eldest sister regularly makes me laugh outloud with her Jack Dee-beating pessimism. I love her very much and she is great fun, but she does love a good moan.

I have pondered on this on a couple of occasions recently, when friends have been beating the whinge drum. And I have sussed it.

I actively engage in optimism. And positivity is a self fulfilling proposition.

If I watch very closely I can even spot the moment at which I realign a thought which is tending towards the defeatist, and project it back onto a path of 'but at least....'

I noticed a few years ago that hanging out with colleagues who liked to moan (but never actually resigned) made me dissatisfied with my job. When I stopped listening to them I could begin to enjoy my work by taking it at face value and not looking for the catches in every new policy, the attempts to exploit me... blah blah blah.

Positivity is a conscious part of my day. While I may indulge in a brief 140 character moan on twitter, I always think twice about posting negative blog posts. A look through my archive will see lots of things that I like (indeed two whole posts dedicated to lists of things I like), but the 'Things that annoy me' post was given over to a guest writer, because I don't like to wallow in such lists.

While optimism doesn't make for the best comedy, and can sometimes annoy friends seeking a partner in negativitiy, it does make for a healthy mental state.

I enjoy the plus-sides my brain thinks up for every situation. I was seeing a nice man in the UK, which didn't work.... plus side? It was one of the reasons I moved out here. You have a snake problem at your country house? Well... they will contain the mouse population. Landlord wants you to move out of your gorgeous flat? Moving to a new one will help you discover a whole new coffee place, and the barista may be your perfect man! (Ok, so I am an optimist and a die-hard romantic).

So, dear reader, if this all sounds appealing and you want to try to embrace a little more conscious positivity to your life I challenge you to write the following on a Post It note near your desk. Its a sentence to live by:

Everything that happens in my life is designed to improve it.

Oh and smile. A smile passes down a pavement full of people and can brighten everyone's day.


Em's mum said...

Summed up in one word.
(Have you read it?)

@EmVicW said...

No but I have seen the film.

Doesn't she fall out of a tree and become disabled and still tells everyone in her town to stop moaning? My kinda girl (although admittedly better than even me!)

Felicity said...

What Katy Did falls out of a tree, I think.

Doesn't Pollyana get hit by a car?

@EmVicW said...

Pretty sure she falls out of the tree.

She isn't allowed to the fair but her little boyfriend comes calling ("Polly-aaaaaana, Polly-aaannnnnna") so she climbs out the tree.

The fair is awesome, as you would imagine, but she wins a doll (or someone wins it for her) and when she tries to climb the tree to sneak back in again she falls because of the doll.

Everyone is of course very remorseful. Frankly if she was grounded she shouldn't have been sneaking out.

Em's mum said...

Katy fell off the swing in the barn. she had been told not to go on it, but she wasn't told that it was because it needed mending, and being stroppy she went high and it broke. luckily she has nauseating sister Clover to wipe her fevered brow, and prissy Cousin Helen to set a good example.
Lesson over.

pollyemj said...

Love the comments on pollyanna and katy (I loved that book when I was kid!) and have decided I will endevour to live up to my own namesake more often! Em, you've inspired my only little project happiness blog post! Thanks again for giving me ideas - one day I'll get one of my own.

Jen C said...

Thanks for this post! The older I get, the more positive I have become, and I am finding it quite hard to read and listen to people complaining all of the time. I do little mini-vents on Twitter, but mostly those are tongue-in-cheek anyway. I feel like I have to stay away from the Internet entirely some days, because of the extreme negativity that abounds here!

Felicity said...

I remember especially hating Cousin Helen. And being actually quite cross that Katy recovers the use of her legs.

Em's mum said...

Oh Felicity, I agree. Did Clover die or am I misremembering? Someone will have to remind me, i couldn't bear to read it again!
Sorry this has become a private Katy reminiscence Em!

@EmVicW said...

Oh by all means do carry on!

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