Choosing the Path to Positivity


February & March 2022 Newsletter
Choosing A Path To Positivity

Imagine this scenario; you walk into a convenience store.  You notice about ten or so other people are also there buying snacks and other items.  Just then, a robber comes in and fires their weapon once.  You are shot in the arm.
Now, be honest with yourself. If you were describing this story to your friends the next day or so, would you describe yourself as lucky or unlucky? 
If you thought unlucky you would be with the majority, about 70% of people felt they were unlucky in this scenario.

This story, which I made my own in some ways, I first saw in the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I began talking about it in various training classes and repeatedly returned to it.  It is such a great illustration of how we can shift, ever so slightly, toward positivity when we have the awareness and the desire to do so.  We have the power and the choice available to us, which is quite extraordinary.  

When you think about your response to that scenario and whether you’re lucky or unlucky, realize that you’re not alone. Almost everyone that read it and decided for themselves do the same thing. We all invent a counter-fact, an alternate scenario that helps us evaluate and make sense of what occurred. Those who felt unlucky created an alternate scenario where they had not been shot at all. Those who felt lucky created a scenario where more people could have been injured, or the wound could have been lethal. The key here is that these alternate scenarios, or counter-facts, are things we make up; they are entirely hypothetical. Here is where we have a choice; we can choose to create a counter-fact that helps us feel fortunate, lucky, and optimistic instead of helpless, unlucky, and miserable. It’s taking an active role in choosing a more positive approach to life.

In  The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World where the spiritual masters, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, along with Douglas Abrams, share their wisdom for finding the joy within our lives. This formula is shared within the book, which describes the choice we all have for finding the positive, a formula for joy. 
Circumstances x Level of Acceptance = Joy

Joy is available to us based on our choice to accept the circumstances. Such circumstances can be extreme or out of our control, and during these times, it may be challenging to find acceptance. We each will make those choices in our own time and our own way. In other situations, it may be easier to choose joy, to make a choice to accept the circumstances, and find a positive way of looking at things. After all, you may have been shot, but at least it wasn’t fatal!   
Spread positivity, the simple act of smiling can bring out the best in those around us. Try it! The next time you walk down the street or hallway, give a smile to the first person you meet. See if they smile back; chances are they do! Smiling is contagious, in a good way. Practicing goodwill and positivity through small acts of kindness does make an impact. The other day while I was facilitating a virtual course tied to my computer screen, a cup of coffee was kindly brought to me and set on my desk. It made a huge impact on me, and the positivity spread from there.