By Alex Blackwell
We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life or you can focus on what’s right. – Marianne Williamson
We have the ability to create our own reality. For the most part, we can look at a situation and see the good or we can look at the same situation and choose to see the bad. Often times the lens we use to view what’s happening is filtered by our thoughts.
Positive thoughts create more positive circumstances. Alternatively, negative thoughts contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment. Therefore, changing our negative thoughts is essential to achieve happiness and peace.
The following are the most common negative thinking behaviors. Becoming aware of these is essential to transforming negative thoughts into positive beliefs.
- Stay away from “all-or-nothing” thinking.
When we slip into “all-or-nothing” thinking we see our circumstances as either black or white with not much in between. By shifting to someplace in the gray, a fresh perspective is created that helps us to realize more options do exist.
To lead an emotionally healthy life we need to have balanced emotions. Words like: always, never, impossible, terrible and perfect, are rigid and allow little room for interpretation or flexibility. Instead, when we live somewhere in the middle then we are in a better position to find sturdier footing which will lead to improved balance.
Look for the gray in these statements:
I can be an intelligent person and still do something stupid.
I can love my wife and still be angry with her sometimes.
There are parts of my life I enjoy and there are parts of my life that create stress.
My children bring me joy and they sometimes drive me crazy.
The most important word in each sentence is and. The word and suggests a balance; it paints a shade of gray in our lives.
- Avoid the temptation to over generalize.
Overgeneralization is best characterized when we believe if one bad thing happens, then everything else is doomed to go poorly.
Think of over generalized statements as exaggerations. For example, “You never listen to me. He always interrupts me. She always thinks she’s right. Everybody thinks I’m stupid.”
The biggest overgeneralization red flags are words likenever, always, should or everybody.Understand an over generalized statement is another form of a negative thought. Re-think your words and reconsider the circumstance. Attempt to find something positive.
For example, the over generalized statement of “You never listen to me.” Can be reframed to, “There have been times in the past when you were very attentive and I felt as though you heard me. At this moment, however, I’m experiencing you as not being interested in what I have to say.”
The second statement is more truthful and less exaggerated. As a result, a more positive outcome can be expected.
- Would you rather be right or happy?
I can be very stubborn. At times my stubbornness has cost me. It has caused me to miss the opportunity to accept an apology or consider a different point-of-view. I was more determined to be right than to be happy.
The need to be right cultivates more negative thoughts because of our unwillingness to let go of whatever the issue was in the first place. To find some peace and happiness, sometimes we just need to let it go.
The Winner is always part of the answer;
The Loser is always part of the problem.
The Winner always has a program;
The Loser always has an excuse.
The Winner says, “Let me do it for you”;
The Loser says, “That is not my job.”
The Winner sees an answer for every problem;
The Loser sees a problem for every answer.
The Winner says, “It may be difficult but it is possible”;
The Loser says, “It may be possible but it is too difficult.”
When a Winner makes a mistake, he says, “I was wrong”;
When a Loser makes a mistake, he says, “It wasn’t my fault.”
A Winner makes commitments;
A Loser makes promises.
Winners have dreams;
Losers have schemes.
Winners say, “I must do something”;
Losers say, “Something must be done.”
Winners are a part of the team;
Losers are apart from the team.
Winners see the gain;
Losers see the pain.
Winners see possibilities;
Losers see problems.
Winners believe in win-win;
Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.
Winners see the potential;
Losers see the past.
Winners are like a thermostat;
Losers are like thermometers.
Winners choose what they say;
Losers say what they choose.
Winners use hard arguments but soft words;
Losers use soft arguments but hard words.
Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things;
Losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values.
Winners follow the philosophy of empathy: “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you”;
Losers follow the philosophy, “Do it to others before they do it to you.”
Winners make it happen;
Losers let it happen.
Winners plan and prepare to win.
The key word is preparation.
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often and realize how fortunate you are right now. It’s about the simple pleasures that make you happy, the compassionate deeds you perform, the personal goals you strive to achieve, the relationships you nurture and the legacy you leave behind.
So starting today, choose to take control. Here are ten commandments to help you live a good life.
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.
– Abraham Lincoln
I. I am not perfect and I will not try to be.
Think of how many things don’t get done in this world simply because people are waiting for the perfect time, place and circumstance.
The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
ll. I cannot, and will not try, to please everyone.
No matter what you do or how you do it, there will always be people that disagree with what you’re doing. That’s life. So don’t try please everyone. Simply do what I know is right.
And remember, it doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it, it matters how many people do.
III. I will take part in something I believe in.
This could be anything. Some people take an active role in their city council, some find refuge in religious faith, some join social clubs supporting causes they believe in and others find passion in their careers. In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives.
IV. I will prioritize my obligations and do important things first.
Set priorities for yourself and act accordingly. It’s the only way to get things done.
It’s the only way to turn a dream into a reality.