I encounter a lot of negativity in my life. There are people I know who spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy moaning and whinging about their lives and about life in general.
Grey skies and cold temperatures means it is a miserable day. The news tells sad, tragic stories, which means that the world we live in is a bad place. The streets are strewn with litter, which means that people ‘out there’ are all nasty, horrible individuals who can’t be reached or changed. It is terrible how high property prices are.
I cannot tell you how potentially soul-destroying it is to be surrounded by a constant undercurrent of negativity. Part of me wants to react to it with further negativity – having a bad mood in reaction to all of the negative thoughts.
BUT, I absolutely refuse to subscribe to this negative way of thinking.
I hadn’t realised until recently, but I tend to take a proactive way of thinking instead of a reactive one. And I believe with some readjustment, everyone has the potential to be proactive instead of reactive.
For me, it’s about continually thinking outside of the box, ‘the box’ being the negative place that others are stuck in. Striving to not be bogged down by what seems like a bad situation, but instead finding the positives of that situation and using them constructively.
In recent years, I have had to make some significant changes to my life, and some would argue that they were changes for the worse.
Before I had my children, I had a stable ‘job for life’ in the NHS as a cardiac nurse. I earnt a decent salary, and that salary would have only increased as I stayed in the job.
I had my children, and realised that returning to work full-time was going to really take its toll on the well-being of my family. So I did the unthinkable and left my job. I rationalised that although I would be sacrificing job-stability and income, the positive would be me investing in my children.
We sacrificed our home, moving in with my in-laws. It was hard, but I didn’t dwell on what we’d be losing (privacy and space), and instead focused on what we’d gain – time to make a decision about our long-term plans, freedom to save money and build an alternative life.
We’re now about to move house. Our first step on the property ladder. We’ve been incredibly fortunate in that we’ve been gifted money by our families. Despite this, our house is small. My husband dwelled on this considerably. He struggled with the unfairness of having to move away from our area and into a small house. His ideal was a bigger house nearer to our roots in London.
I saw things differently. I focussed on how privileged we are, being able to buy a house at all.
Moving away is sad in many ways. We won’t be a stone’s throw from our friends and family, but we drive, and will only be an hour away. I’ve sat in traffic for an hour travelling from my parents’ house (less than 7 miles away) to home. It’s all relative.
Our house is small. But it’s a whole house. And it is ours. The size of the house will force us to be organised about our possessions, to be selective about what we own and to essentially live economically. And in a world where modern culture can breed excessiveness, living economically is a very good thing.
I could spend my life dwelling on what I don’t have and tying myself in knots over what I can’t change. Instead, I focus on what I do have and use my energy on the things I can change.
These are just some small examples of how I’ve adopted proactive and constructive thought processes. However, it can be applied to a multitude of things.
If there is a public issue that bothers you, why waste your time behind your own four walls moaning about it? Why not get active and do something? Use your negative energy constructively.
It could be homelessness, animal cruelty, a lack of public service in your area. All of these things will never get solved or dealt with if everyone angrily paced their living-rooms in a mood about them.
In this day and age, there is no excuse to be passive and apathetic. The prevalence of social media means that we all have the power to promote a change in something we’re not happy with. We have the freedom to speak out about our concerns. There is an audience waiting to listen. To bounce ideas off of.
We can create petitions, write blogs and film videos containing our powerful ideas and share them through our computers, tablets and smart phones. All of the software is at our fingertips – and free!
At the tap of a keyboard we can reach out and make contact with people who have bigger powers than us to influence change. We can Tweet our MPs and email our councillors. We couldn’t have so readily reached out to these people a few decades ago.
There is so much energy wasted by people talking, but not doing. It’s frustrating and unnecessary. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if everyone used the energy they expel talking to drive changes in the causes they believe in? Convert talk to discussion. Convert discussion to action.
So the next time something is going on in your life that you perceive negatively, try to seek the positives. Look for the learning points. Find the aspects that you can change.
I firmly believe that there is a positive to every perceived bad situation. It may be a struggle to see the positives straight away. Physically writing things down can help. List the pros and cons onto paper. Even if you find only a couple of pros, focus on them. Deal with the cons that really need dealing with and throw the rest away.
If something bad happens, don’t dwell on it. To dwell is to waste time and energy on something in history that cannot be changed. It’s done. Instead, try to take a lesson from the situation. Life’s lessons are powerful learning tools and opportunities for you to avoid repeating mistakes. These are the things that nurture your wisdom.
Finally, just do. If something really affects you, find a way to take action. Get writing, get discussing, get out there and meet whoever you need to construct some change. Be proactive.
Are you a proactive thinker?