Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Avoiding the Slippery Slope of Negativity: Rebounding from What Life Throws at Us

During the Olympics, we lived in a surreal world. There were so many moments of joy and lots of disappointments too. Overall, the experience was uplifting as we celebrated the efforts of athletes to better their best. We were on a high, especially when Canada beat the US for hockey gold.

It was a welcome relief from the downbeat news that dominates our media. Positive experiences and messages have a hard time surviving among the weeds of travail and suffering. According to Tal Ben-Shahar, who lectures on positive psychology, articles about anger, anxiety and depression outnumber those on joy, happiness and satisfaction by a factor of 21:1!

Yet, to be creative and push the edges of our minds, inspiration partners better with perspiration than negativity. Inspiration opens us up to generating possibilities and seeing opportunities despite difficult circumstances. In evolutionary terms, it’s the only way to go for individual and group survival.

Imagine if each one of us were a little bit better at fending off the negative and cultivating the positive. It’s not easy as the reality of life is that failure, frustration and suffering abound. Nevertheless, if more of us can improve how we rebound, then maybe we will have more shared Olympic moments.

One way is to alter how we think about or evaluate our thoughts in response to an event. Cognitive scientists tell us that our thoughts drive emotions and emotions drive motion. It follows then that we have the power to change the meaning we attach to the event and thus our actions. We can cope up or down. Our choice.

The “3Ms” serve as a mirror for our unrealistic or realistic reactions to the unfolding of life’s events:

# 1: Magnifying the Failure. Avoid over-generalizing (“No one liked my idea therefore they won’t like any of my ideas.”)

# 2: Minimizing the Success: Avoid tunnel vision, focusing on the one thing that went wrong rather than the nine that went well (Giving undue attention to the one bored or disengaged person rather than the nine excited people).

# 3: Making Up Meanings: Avoid personalizing or blaming (beating yourself up instead of problem-solving your way out, taking charge).

The Olympic athletes are proof positive of the power of thoughts driving emotions and emotions driving motion. No reason why we can’t practice that too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it