I used to think positivity was ‘pie in the sky’. Turns out it’s more like ‘eye in the sky’ in terms of the perspective it provides.
I used to think life was an endless series of problems to solve – and therefore I needed to be appropriately focused on problems. I concluded that positive people were either blind to reality or in denial.
I thought a negative view was a more realistic view of life, and the reinforcement was everywhere:
“Life sucks, then you die”
“It’s Murphy’s Law”
“Karma is a bitch”
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles”
“When it rains, it pours”
“It’s always one thing after another”
“Just my luck”
“Good things never last”
With those phrases as a basis of my attitude toward life, you can see how I would think a positive attitude was akin to having your head in the clouds, blissfully ignoring problems (which would surely jump up later and bite you, because life was all about problems). I felt that the key to happiness – if there was one – was to solve as many problems as possible and hope that cleared up a little room to do something worth smiling about before the weeds of life retook the garden. Life was work and happiness was a future vacation, someday.
This desire to be ‘realistic’ and objective about life kept me in a state of negativity for a long time.
I’ve now begun to understand that there is no true objective reality as a human being. We can’t help it – life is always bent and filtered through our individual lens. 99% of life is in the interpretation, and interpretation comes from your beliefs or attitude. Therefore, your attitude actually determines how you experience your life, your reality.
There are two extensions to this:
We can all agree that life is an amazing thing. The fact that we exist at all, spinning around in space – something we don’t even begin to understand. Life is an awesome thing in the true definition of the word, and I think it would be hard to deny that, at the highest level, we’re stunningly lucky/blessed to exist for this short time we get.
It stands to reason then that having a positive attitude about life is actually more accurate if you’re really concerned with the ‘truth’ about life. The reality might be that it’s raining on you and it ruined your plans for the afternoon, but it’s also true that you exist! Imagine what it takes for that to simply occur – how amazing it is to be able to feel that drop of rain. So when it comes to accuracy, complete awe and gratitude is the most accurate attitude. It could be called ‘big picture’ thinking, and doesn’t a bigger picture give you a much greater understanding? An aerial view shows you where the quicksand and cliffs are, and also where the peaceful meadows and pools are.
So accept the larger view. The positive view. Zoom out. And watch problems become easy to solve, and shrink down to their appropriate size in the wide landscape of life.
The things we worry about don’t happen 95% of the time, so being more positive is actually the more realistic view based on our own experience! Being negative and worrisome about the future is completely out of line with how things typically turn out. We all know this. That’s why we call it ‘worrying’ and not ‘predicting’. It’s never as bad as we build it up to be. So, negative thinking is actually extremely inaccurate in terms of our real experience of life. For some reason we tend not to see that huge discrepancy, but it doesn’t make it any less of a self delusion.
Now, being positive doesn’t mean we stop checking the batteries in the smoke alarm and hope everything works out. But it does mean we don’t WORRY about it. It means we spend an appropriate amount of time planning and taking action to avoid bad outcomes and poor results, based on what we desire. It’s about focusing on the desired result, and moving toward it. It’s not easy, but once your focus shifts to the positive you’ll find life much easier and you’ll be putting in place solutions that are much more appropriate, longer-lasting, and in line with the larger picture of life.
It’s like being able to soar above your life and see it all for the first time. How easy it becomes to swoop in and fix bits and pieces, steer yourself away from pitfalls, and toward the path you desire.