Changing The Way We Look At Things

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This quote is from the famous motivational speaker and self-help author Dr. Wayne Dyer. Think about what he said for a moment.

It is along the same line as the half-empty/half-full concept. In both theories, it points out the power of having a positive mindset. There are positives in everything; sometimes you just must look harder to find them over the more apparent negatives.

We all make choices in life; some of us choose to be negative about everything, while other people experiencing the same situation see nothing but the positives. How can that be? Two people experiencing the same thing but emotionally feeling what they experience at opposite ends of the spectrum. It is almost as if each is wearing a set of glasses that filter the experience differently. Remember Dr. Dyer’s quote: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Why change the way you look at things?

Before we get into the “how” of changing your mindset, let’s first look at why it is beneficial to see the positives in everything. The mind is a powerful thing in that it controls all parts of your body. Researchers have found in multiple studies that having a positive outlook produces some very beneficial health benefits. For one, they found it increases the immune system. It is a proven fact that positive people are generally healthier both mentally and physically.

And positive people have a lower stress level because they are able to effectively deal with stress better. As a result, they have less cortisol caressing through their body, a known hormone responsible for weight gain, so they are able to control their weight better.

Beside having an improved immune system and better weight control, having a positive mindset also:

  • lowers the risk of a cardiovascular event
  • lower rates of depression
  • and surprisingly live a longer life

How to change your mindset to one more positive

While there are several things one can do to improve their mindset, here are some that provide the most benefits:

  • Start your day with a positive affirmation – how you start the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Many people like to write down their affirmation in a notebook or journal. Writing it down has more effect than just verbalizing it to yourself.
  • Look for the good in things – We all face situations during our day that can be viewed as either good or bad. For example, if stuck in traffic, view it as an opportunity to listen to your favorite podcast or to your favorite music instead of a waste of time going nowhere.
  • Change negative self-talk into positive – Instead of saying “I’m so bad at doing this” say  “I’ll get better at doing this after I get more practice.”
  • Focus on the present – The past is yesterday, there is nothing we can do about it; the future is tomorrow and not here yet, so there is little we can do about it; but today is now and we can either choose to experience it either positively or negatively; the choice is yours!
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people have positive outlook on life, quote positive affirmations and generally say positive things. Over time, these positives rub off on you, sink into your brain and you become a more positive person because of them. However, the opposite is true if you surround yourself with negative people. Again, it is your choice; choose wisely!

The way you view things, could help you see them in a positive way instead of negative. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Now go be positive!

Be The Change In The World

Two “mantras” that express how I approach life both in the work environment and outside are “Be Kind” and “Be the Change you want to see.” Often as we use Social Media we can see opinions and comments being shared which are not in line with those approaches to life and we see the harshness of people’s comments from the comfortable anonymity of their internet enabled devices.

I was especially mindful of that this morning when I read the comments about Colin Jackson and his revelation of his sexuality.  Many of those I saw commenting across Social Media implied that that they already knew about Colin Jackson and I saw comments such as “tell us something we didn’t know”. It struck me again how quick people can be to express their opinion without thinking about what they are commenting on. They were clearly missing the point. It’s not about them; it’s about Colin and how he feels and being comfortable to share something that is intensely personal with the wider world.

What’s the relevance to the broad topic of my Learning & Development blog you might wonder?  All too often in the workplace, as I touched on in my recent posts about Difficult Conversations,” we can be very quick to make judgements without considering the experience of those we are dealing with. Each individual has been on a journey shaped by the world, the people they have encountered and their own experiences and have made decisions based on that journey.

At age 50 Colin Jackson grew up in a world which is so different to the more accepting environment we live in today. He grew up when people were denied opportunity, were routinely ostracised, and would face violence and intimidation. A world where the idea of taking a same sex partner to a “work event” would have been unthinkable because of the snide comments, the sneering looks, the impact on one’s opportunities at work that would have ensued.

He grew up in a world where being different made one feel scared of being oneself. A world which didn’t accept that you couldn’t be anything other than “normal” as defined by society.

As the years pass of hiding who you are for fear of the repercussions it becomes the norm to be reticent, to use language which introduces and sustains ambiguity when it comes to whom one loves.

Today, we live in a world which is more accepting of people being themselves; although many still face that fear of being themselves because of the reaction of those around them.

Fear is an emotion which it is hard to let go of so as Colin tells the world who he is and who he chooses to love – have a little thought for those that still struggle with the fear they feel.

If you can do one thing, it’s not to sneer and say “yes we knew.” It’s to be the change in the world that allows others to be true to themselves. Above all else Be Kind!