When you were very little, your family thought everything you did was so cute. You were able to get a laugh out of them and a comment on how adorable you were by doing just about anything. When you found something that worked, you kept the behavior up. After all, everyone loves positive reinforcement. But as time went by and you got bigger, all of a sudden the cute little things you did as a toddler weren’t so cute anymore and the positive reinforcements soon turned to negative feedback. Choruses of: “children your age don’t act like that” or “don’t brag, you’ll call attention to yourself” or “you’re too old to act like a child” came roaring at you. What happened? The behavior stayed the same, but the rules changed mid-stream.
You were suddenly in a world where the two most commonly used words were “no” and “don’t…” You were scolded when you did something wrong, which was more often than not because the rules kept changing on you.
When it became time for school the teachers were constantly telling you what “not to do” or “not to touch.” When they’d test you on a subject, you’d get the graded test back reading something like “-3” or “-10”. Very seldom did you see “+97” or “+anything” at the top of your papers. If you had acted up in class you got sent to the principal’s office. You never got to see the principal (the head guy, top gun, most important person in the school) if you were good, or to just chat about how school was going for you. NO—that was the kind of attention that was strictly held in reserve for the kids who acted out in a “bad” way. At a very early age it was becoming clear that the focus was on the negatives rather than the positives. Punishing for bad behavior rather than rewarding for good was to become the norm.
As you got older and began to learn more and more about how our society worked, you found that there too, the focus was on penalizing bad behavior rather than rewarding good behavior. This was slowly becoming a theme in life. It was clear to see that prisons were becoming more and more populated and were being built as fast as they could build them to house the results of this kind of upbringing.
We humans are social creatures needing attention. For us, even bad attention is better than no attention at all. So it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you are only shown attention when you do something wrong, you will be led to do more wrong acts to get the attention that you need, thus causing you to focus on the negative things in life. When you couple this with the paradoxical fact that the people who seem to be living their lives focused on positives receive little or no attention for their efforts, or may even suffer from “negative press” at the hands of others who suspect ulterior motives behind all the so-called good deeds… Well, it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture. In that kind of situation, even the most positive focused people can begin feeling poorly about themselves. Beliefs such as “crime pays” or “you can’t win” begin to have an insidious effect, and even predominantly positive people can find themselves pushed to the edge with negativity.
Negativity seems to be everywhere. You can’t seem to get away from it. You see it going to and from work. You see it in people blasting their horns in traffic and shouting obscenities at each other. You hear people cutting each other down or talking about others negatively behind their backs. You hear stories of people who further their own successes at the expense of others. Negative stories more than positive ones generate the most interest on the “nightly news”. All the top stories on television and in the papers are negative. The positive, loving stories are almost always buried somewhere in the middle—barely noticeable because they do not make for “good news”.
We find ourselves becoming more and more sarcastic in life and more readily inclined to allow our inner feelings to be negated. We find ourselves in situations where we outwardly go along with others who are acting or behaving in a manner which is in conflict with our values, in order to feel as though we “fit in”. We are becoming more isolated than ever before and consequently more in need of attention than ever before. The result of this is that we are more willing, than ever before, to do whatever it takes to get that needed attention, even if it means compromising our values to get it.
We have even started to use sarcasm (which by definition means “the tearing of flesh”) to show our love for one another. How is a person supposed to really feel positive about themselves when the expression of something as simple, pure, wonderful and necessary as love is shared in the guise of sarcasm. The picture that’s painted here is almost ominous, however, there’s a small opening in one of the clouds from which a ray of sunshine allows the light to shine into the darkness. And one small light is all that is needed to banish the darkness forever and show us that there is a fork ahead in the road. One path veers off to the side of negativity and the other path leads to positivity—it’s as simple as choosing which road to travel.
First we must make the conscious choice to travel down the new positive road. We can do this by beginning to express gratitude for the positives that already exist in our lives (the first gratitude being the opportunity for choice itself). When we focus on the positives, we get more of them. Secondly to enhance our new positive way of being, we no longer expose ourselves to negative propaganda. We quit reading books, newspapers, magazines or watching television and movies that focus all the attention on the negative aspects of life and mankind in general. By doing this, we are taking responsibility for bringing more positivism into our lives. Thirdly, we make it a practice to compliment rather than criticize both ourselves and others. Fourthly, we take a minimum of fifteen minutes at the end of each day to fully express and feel the gratitudes of the day. Really getting in touch with how those things we find ourselves being grateful for have enriched our lives. And lastly, we share our feelings of gratitude with others.
When we find the areas of our lives for which we are grateful, we not only begin focusing on those things which are truly positive, and thus open the way to see more and more of them, but we also make it difficult for negativity to creep into our lives. We naturally create a more loving environment for ourselves and others, greater health and well-being, greater self-esteem, greater successes in all areas of our lives while feeling a lot more fulfilled in the process.
In this day and age so many people are actively searching for their purpose or mission in life and claim they are unable to see it, or feel it due to all the blockages that have been created through the negativity of one form or another. Being in a state of gratitude lets you release the blockages that are holding you back from experiencing your joyful purpose in life. The small effort that one needs to make in order to change from seeing things from a predominantly negative point of view to a predominantly positive one is small in comparison to the rewards. And this is truly an instance where you will be rewarded for the positives or for doing the “right thing”. Try it for yourself. I’m so certain that you’ll discover that an ounce of gratitude will yield you at least a pound of blessings, joy, happiness, miracles and love in your life that I want you to write in and share your experiences with me. Did I mention that this is a win, win? When you focus on those areas that you are grateful for, and then share your gratitudes with me, it makes me feel good, generating an experience for which I will be grateful, and in turn pass along to another. Then the process begins all over again. Hey, what do you know? Love really does make the world go ‘round.
Debbie Darling, ©2013 The Presentation Pros