Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Ways to be Positive When You're Surrounded with Negativity

I don't know about you, but I find negativity to be exhausting. 

I've also found that it's contagious. Unless we are Optimal Optimists, then it's easy to get caught up in the pessimism that surrounds us and succumb to the pressures of negativity. It's easy because we don't do it consciously....reacting negatively in jest, I have found, is common. 

As a society, we tend to dwell on the negatives, and converse about all of the bad things that are going on in the world. When there is a lull in conversation, more often than not we turn to the hottest stories in the news to break the silence, and we can almost always agree on the degrading state of the economy, the shame that the "youth" is bringing on our community, the terrible fact that we can't leave our doors unlocked because of the rash of burglaries throughout the neighborhood, or the traffic jams and accidents that litter the highways.

Is this in an effort to make ourselves feel better? That doesn't make sense to me. 

So when we find ourselves surrounded with negativity, there are a few things we can do to be positive. Here they are:

  1. Acknowledge the shortcomings/tragedies/disappointments for the topic at hand, but point out the good in the situation. 
    Ugh, I know things aren't going so well right now, but on the bright side, only better things will come!
  2. Change the subject to something positive.
    So anyway, did you hear that last week's food drive fed 500 people for the holiday?
  3. Call out negative rants.
    Gosh, I feel so weighed down when talking about all of this depressing stuff. Let's focus on some good things from now on, ok?
  4. Propose a positive solution.
    I heard Sam's been singing the blues lately. What do you say we go cheer her up with a fun night out and remind her that things aren't so bad after all?
  5. Walk away from the negativity. Escaping sometimes is the best tactic.
    Sorry guys, I'm gonna skip out on this one. Too many good things happening around us to focus on the bad!
Staying positive takes some work, but it's definitely worth it. Try to think positively when negativity creeps into your life - you will feel so much better! 
You've done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.            -Ralph Marston

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2 Thoughts to Kick Off the Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is upon us! 

Have you been scouring websites looking for fun new recipes to try for the holidays?

I have. And it's been so. much. fun.

It's not like my mom doesn't have hundreds of delicious recipes from our family collection, but sometimes it's fun to try out new things and put a different spin on some old favorites. I've been faithfully checking websites like The Food Network, FoodBuzz, Food Gawker, and more almost daily, and I've compiled a ridiculously long list of "must try" recipes.

Aside from all of the great food that we get to make (and then eat!), we must not forget the reason we celebrate. With the official kick-off to the holiday season here in the U.S. coming in just a few days with Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share with you some quotes that make for a *happy* holiday. Of course, we should not reserve our gratitude solely for this day or any other holiday - we should acknowledge it everyday - but it is nice to have a special reservation for our most appreciated moments in life.

Here are 2 thoughts to kick off the holiday season:

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.  ~Meister Eckhart 

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I wish you, your friends, and family a wonderful holiday!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 14, 2011

What To Do When Enthusiasm Wanes

Hello Optimists,

I was doing a bit of reading today and came across an incredibly poignant little story...

Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" brings us the following:

In a story called, "The Turn of the Tide," author Arthur Gordon describes a time when he found his world stale and flat. His enthusiasm for life waned, and he was getting worse daily.

A medical doctor found nothing physically wrong with him, but he said he might be able to help if Gordon could follow his instructions for one day. He was to spend the next day in the place where he'd been happiest as a child. He was not to talk to anyone, nor to read, write, or listen to the radio. The doctor then wrote our four prescriptions and told him to open one at 9am, noon, 3pm, and 6pm.

The next morning, Gordon went to the beach. His first prescription said only this: "Listen carefully." It seemed insane to listen to waves for three hours. But he did it - and began to hear more and more sounds that weren't obvious at first. He began to think of lessons he'd learned as a child from the sea: patient, respect for the interdependence of things. He felt a growing peace.

The noon prescription read, "Try reaching back." To what? He thought of joyful times of his childhood, and felt a growing warmth inside.

The 3pm message thew some cold water on him: "Examine your motives." At first, he was defensive. Of course he wanted success, fame, security - he could justify them all. But then it occurred to him that these motives weren't good enough, and that fact was making him stagnant. "It makes no difference," he wrote later, "whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, a housewife - whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well - a law that is an inexorable as gravity.

When 6pm came, the final prescription didn't take long to fill: "Write your worries on the sand." He knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell: then he turned and walked away. He didn't look back; he knew the tide would come in. 

This lovely story left me with three big takeaways:

First, in order to help ourselves out, we must first take a good look in - to our hearts, our minds, our lives.

Second, worrying about too many little things can take a drag on life. Instead, we must identify and address only the items of main concern, then go on enjoying the present and looking forward to and preparing for what the future can bring.

And Third, where can I find a doctor like that?

Share your thoughts on this story and the subject below. I'd love to hear what you think!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Optimal Optimist Turns 2!

Hello Optimists,

I'm so very happy and proud to say that OO turned 2 years old this past week! 

*Sing it with me now...

♪ ♫  *Happy* Birthday to you, *Happy* Birthday to you.... ♪ ♫

Ah, how wonderful. I was sure I just wrote the OO is 1 Year Old post just yesterday, and a little while before that, I wrote the first post that kicked off the fun here on OO, but to my surprise, it has, in fact, been 2 whole years since it all began. 

Over the two years, I found found that being an Optimist is pretty tough and it takes some work, but the more that I commit to it, the more I see positive changes taking place. It's amazing how, even when you're not looking for it, positivity can find a place in your life. All you have to do is be open to it. 

I've found positivity in the most unexpected of places. Seriously. 

Signs of Optimism, Positivity, Happiness and more have found their way into my life...

I've learned that we can never count out a place where we can find happiness, nor can we expect to find it anywhere. Sometimes the best of surprises is finding that little piece of joy in the times or places where we least expect it, but when we need it most.

So, before I go dive into my birthday cake, I wanted to leave you with a great quote for the day:

To live long and achieve happiness, cultivate the art of  radiating       happiness.      - Malcolm Forbes 

Thanks for being a part of the 2 wonderfully optimistic years that OO has been running....cheers to many more!

Keep Smiling,

P.S. Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook for more great quotes, news, articles, and updates about happiness and positivity!