Have you ever actually listened to an economist on the news? They might be the single most depressing group of people on earth. I’ve never heard one actually say anything optimistic.
Here’s what a typical interview sounds like:
News reporter: Good news! The economy added 200,000 new jobs last month.
Economist: Yes, but…doom and gloom, obscure economic principle, the end of the world is near, etc. etc.
200,000 people who last month didn’t have jobs now have jobs and somehow Mr. Economist manages to find the negative.
Everything starts in your mind. Every action starts with a thought. Every invention starts with an idea. Every outcome starts with a vision. Everything starts in your mind.
Have you ever wanted to be somebody else?
Not literally another person, but someone better?
A better leader. A better father. A more focused person. Someone who is making a bigger impact and leaving a legacy.
Have you ever wanted to be somebody else? Then take these words from the band Sister Hazel to heart.
I’ll be happy when _________.
Go ahead, fill in the blank. That blank is your definition of “success.”
That is your goal. It’s what you are striving for. It’s what you think will make you happy. Or will it?
The Happiness-Success Paradox
Here is a surprising paradox for some: To achieve authentic success, you must be happy first. Happiness leads to success, which leads to more happiness, which leads to…and thus the cycle is born. Round and round you go on a positive cycle that seems to self-contain itself in an impenetrable bubble. The same principle works in effect for negativity and unhappiness. Negativity leads to failure, which leads to more negativity and unhappiness, which…and the self-containing bubble grows bigger and stronger and seemingly unbreakable.
How do you tune out negative voices and live a life of true joy?
Let’s face it…if you’re achieving anything in life, a large percentage of the voices you hear will be negative. So what do you do with them?
Gertrude Nonterah from Working Christian Mommy shared some great ideas with me recently that I wanted to pass on to you. I love Gertrude’s tagline on her site: On the path to living an unconventionally rich life. When you’re living an unconventionally rich life, the negative voices will come. Here’s what Gertrude had to say about them.
Some years ago, my mom decided she wanted to venture into entrepreneurship by opening a convenience store. It sounded like a great idea to her until she run it by a friend of hers. This friend told her how this was a terrible idea and that entrepreneurs never really make a profit and that her chances for failure were high.
I often get asked: “Why are you always so positive when you write?”
Some ask in a curious way. Some ask in a negative way, as though I am doing something wrong. Some ask in a “how can I be more like that?” way.
The reason I stay positive with my tribe is simple: I’m fostering a stereotype of myself and you. The research tells me to. I’ll explain below.
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Let me be clear about something. My natural inclination, for whatever reason, is towards the negative.
Bad news: Your brain is probably less powerful than you thought.
If you’re like me, you thought your brain could do just about anything. That it was infinitely powerful.
But it’s not…
That’s the bad news. But there are two gigantic silver linings to it. Stay tuned…
Your brain: the single processor
If you were born prior to 1995, and my most recent reader survey suggests that 97% of you were, you remember single processor computers. The other 3% of you will have to use your imaginations for this illustration. A single processor computer is r-e-a-l-l-y slow and does not allow you to have 37 programs open at the same time. In other words, you can’t IM on Facebook while tweeting and hosting a Google Hangout, all while listening to Pandora. Any attempt to do so would most likely result in the “blue screen of death.”
Think of your brains the same way.
What do you do if your biggest critics are the people closest to you?
That’s the question a reader emailed me recently in response to my post, This 1 Thing Will Silence Your Critics Forever. In it, I suggest the best thing to do with critics is to leave them.
In her case, her biggest critics are her mom and her brother. So what should she do?
Before I answer the question, let me repeat my definition of what a critic is and isn’t, just so we are clear:
A critic is not someone who brings up legitimate concerns or occasionally points out flaws in your logic. A critic is not someone who tells a 300-pound man who hasn’t exercised since the Clinton administration that he should lose some weight and get on a training plan before running a marathon. There is a big difference between a realistic friend and a critic.
A critic is someone who tells you that any dream beyond his or her bubble of understanding is ridiculous or impossible. They label you a dreamer or a child. They believe it is impossible to live a dream and still provide for your family. They think that happiness on the job and responsibility are mutually exclusive. When you leave a critic’s presence, your energy is depleted, your joy stripped, and your dreams crushed.
Why am I so negative all the time?
That’s the question I’ve wrestled with for years. I know that as a leader at work, at home and in the community that I should be looking for the good in people and in situations.
I’m still a work in progress (aren’t we all), but I’ve turned a corner due to one huge revelation.
Looking for the good in people is not a natural thing. We are wired to look for threats. I believe in micro-evolution. It’s real. Just look at what modern technology has done to the brain. Over the course of thousands of years, we’ve evolved to look for threats to our survival and well-being. In other words, being negative, seeing the worst in others and situations, is a survival mechanism.
Imagine for a moment that you are twenty-two years old, your entire life in front of you…and you’re headed for combat.
Maybe that’s not hard to imagine. You’ve been that kid headed off to war, scared out of your mind, not knowing what lies ahead. Most of us haven’t and we salute you for your service.
Before you go, you meet with a psychologist. It’s normal to do so. Their job is to prepare you for the horrors you’re about to face and, eventually, the return home. The psychologist tells you that when you return, there are only two options:
Return with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This well-intentioned psychologist has pigeon-holed this impressionable kid into forming only two paths in his mental map, average and bad.
We do the same things to ourselves.