There's been a lot written about positive psychology in books such as Authentic Happiness and The Happiness Advantage. At the core of each of these books, as well as others like them, is the fundamental question: Does positivity really matter?
At many of my events, I offer products and merchandise including books and wristbands to help people retain the message I shared. A few years ago, the money I had made from product sales at a conference got stolen. After it happened, I tweeted the following message:
Revenue from merchandise sales at speaking event got jacked (glass 1/2 empty).
Just developed a better system for merchandise sales (glass 1/2 full).
The responses I received were interesting. Here are just a few examples:
- How much did you lose?
- Who took it?
However, one of my friends shared this with me:
Sorry to hear that.
“Those that are hardest to love need it the most.”
—the Way of the Peaceful Warrior
What a great response! One that made me think.
But even more, many people missed what I was trying to communicate. What I was trying to say is, stuff like this happens. Yet it's our response to such events, and not the events themselves, that determines the outcomes we experience. (Can I get an E+R=O shout-out?!)
Don't misunderstand. When I discovered our product sales money had been stolen, I was not a happy camper! When I travel to speak, we pack up merchandise, ship it ahead of my arrival (or I carry it with me), set up a display table, man the table, and then pack up all unsold products and ship (or carry) it back. That's a lot of work!
So yes, at first it knocked the wind out of me. And to be completely honest, a part of me wanted to knock the wind out of the person who stole our money.
But within a matter of minutes, I remembered positivity matters. So I actually said the following statement aloud to myself: What is done is done. Now, what can I learn from it? What does this make possible?
The moment I said this, my perspective changed! My focus was on future solutions, not further sulking. My mind was thinking of improvements, not impoverishment.
Additionally, not only did my perspective change, but my attitude changed as well. I was joyful within a matter of minutes. Was I still disappointed we lost money? Absolutely! Then why was I joyful? I was joyful because I felt in control. I was taking ownership of what I could own…namely, my attitude and actions. Plus, I had learned a valuable lesson.
So YES…positivity matters! Not goofy, shallow positivity that encourages people to put their heads in the sands or chat silly mantras. But realistic positivity that understands life includes both ups and downs, yet we have the power to choose our responses and take action.
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