perception affects person's interpretation

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. – Eckhart Tolle

Take your average glass and add some water into it…what do you see?

Some see it half empty while others see it half full and so goes the never ending debate about which answer is (more) accurate. What we see and how we interpret that experience dramatically impacts what emotions we display and ultimately the actions we take. In fact so much has been written about the glass with water that it’s “overflowing” with interpretations (yes I intentionally said that). This was one of the most creative:

Being positive isn’t always easy and staying positive can be even more challenging but in the end, wouldn’t you rather think positive thoughts versus negative ones?

So what is Positive Thinking?

  • Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

The power of positive thinking is in fact a real thing and often linked to being labeled an optimist versus a pessimist. It often starts with self-talk which is that quiet (and sometimes loud) stream of endless and unspoken thoughts that run a marathon through your head. These thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of this chatter is based on logic and facts while other times it’s made up drama. When the drama and negative chatter heightens, so can your stress, which is why you want to focus on positive thinking. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Are you an Optimist or Pessimist when it comes to Positive Thinking?

The Mayo Clinic continues to cite that there are four essential signs and places to look to assess if you are a glass half full vs. half empty.

  • Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Catastrophic Outlook. You automatically anticipate the worst. Your morning barista gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure

When you start to have negative thoughts, it can be hard to stop them. And it’s much easier said than done to shift your focus to positive thoughts but it’s also not impossible. Here are some ways to apply being more positive today:

  1. List three things that you are grateful for right now. Being grateful helps appreciate what you already have.
  2. Smile. It’s a scientific fact that it improves your overall wellness.
  3. Laugh. Both in frequency and delivery. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  4. Start With You. Stop and evaluate what you’re thinking throughout the day. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  5. Cultivate Healthy Lifestyle. Exercise weekly to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body.
  6. Crowd Source Positivity. Make sure you surround yourself with positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback.
  7. Practice Positive Self-talk. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. 

“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

Final thoughts: Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment. The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become. A negative thinker will see the difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker will see an opportunity in every difficulty. In the end, it’s not about whether the glass is half full or half empty but rather that the glass is refillable.

The floor is yours: What’s your advice on how to see the best in others and situations?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership, Joshua /

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