Over the last few days, I have been noticing messages from those I follow on social media about the power of positivity. I am not sure if it is because spring is right around the corner or that we want to get away from a world filled with sadness and negativity. There’s a positive vibe afloat. I’m all in on taking advantage of that. I feel more than ever, the need to turn from negative emotions and people, before it sticks to me.
When I was on LinkedIn earlier, Sir Richard Branson’s LinkedIn Influencer page popped up. He had a very simple message for the day:
Positivity breeds positivity and I like to surround myself with a team of people with can-do attitudes. If you surround yourself with people who belittle your dreams or don’t support you, then it will be twice as hard to get your idea off the ground. Life is also a lot more fun when you’re smiling. —Sir Richard Branson
Dear Sir Richard: I agree! I have a list of dreams I want to accomplish, the ones at the top are the most important. Being around positive people will motivate and energize me, being positive can be contagious. Sir Richard advocates spreading the joy of positivity, it’s too good to keep it to ourselves.
When we are around negative people their energy can be very draining. After a few sentences out of their mouths, I just want to turn and run. I don’t want to be caught in their net of negativity, because no matter how my day is going, being around someone negative will make it worse. I want to be there for people, but constant complainers who don’t look for solutions in their lives, is not where I want to spend my time. There will be seasons of sadness. It is going to be part of our lives, but when it becomes chronic, it’s time to do something about it.
Did you know that complaining can become a habit? Did you also know it can hold you back in life? In an earlier blog about childhood, I mentioned that our brains are wired to remember negative events, well the same is true for our brain’s tendency to focus on the negative, at any stage in life. It will take some training of the brain to get on the happiness track and off the downward cycle of negativity. A life-stage promotion may depend on it.
Here are some great tips on not being that person, by a Stanford University professor:
- Self-awareness: Realize when you are complaining. Be aware of your listener’s cues that it might be time to stop chirping about the topic we are harping on.
- Self-care: This is so important. Let’s trust ourselves to get to the bottom of why we feel the need to complain. I know for me; certain scenarios will trigger and flip my complaining switch to the power-on mode.
- Plan of action: I know many of my triggers, so I need to plan for them. Coming home to a sink full of dishes that aren’t mine, an article rejection, physical pain, are some of my triggers. I flip it around and create mental reasons why some of these things are a blessing, or a signal to slow down.
- Don’t be a doormat: Once a complainer has identified you as a source to drop-off their problems, it will take some supportive retraining to stop this behavior.
- Break the habit: Simple enough, just stop doing it, engaging in it or if we must; put aside 5-10 minutes a day to gripe away, then move on.
- Slow down: When we complain, our brains are not being serviced as they should. This is a great time to get quiet and meditate. Meditation helps regulate emotions.
If complaining helped us, we wouldn’t need to do it as much. We simply don’t heal when we complain. It’s also bad for your brain health! Inc. Magazine interviewed a scientist who found the more we complain, the more we need to keep complaining to feed the negativity our brains crave. This also diminishes our brains’ circuitry. I need all pistons firing!
The Stanford professor suggests trying to go without complaining for a month, to break the habit. I tried to go a day, didn’t make it that far. But it was a real eye opener on where I need to put some good energy. Let’s remember happiness and positivity is our choice, who we choose to have in our lives will influence how happy and successful our life’s journey will be.