Choosing to be positive

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

by Gwen Randall-Young

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
– Max Ehrmann, Desiderata.

Do you know anyone who seems always to be negative? Has anyone said this about you? Negativity is caused by our perception. Perception means what we perceive, what we see. It is the lens through which we see the world. It can also be what we choose to focus on.

We have all met people who have very little that is positive to say. They are down on the boss, the employees, the government, the weather, the football/hockey team and perhaps even themselves.

Sometimes misery loves company. If two or more people enjoy seeing the worst in every situation, they may enjoy each other’s company. They get validation from each other, which only confirms that how they see the world is how it is. However, they are likely not happy people – not the ones looking for solutions that work for everyone. They see a situation as terrible while perpetuating the situation by not even attempting to make positive contributions.

Even if others around the negative person are trying to keep a positive outlook, that negativity can suck all of the energy out of the room. Expressions that are negative, judgmental and critical of other people are toxic and suppress the immune system of everyone exposed to it. We can disagree with policies, positions or decisions without making personal attacks.

We all belong to the same tribe. If something doesn’t seem right and we use our wisdom and intelligence to improve the situation, the whole tribe benefits and evolves. If we say the leader is an idiot and retreat to our caves to talk endlessly about how bad he is, the tribe devolves. We are stronger together if we share our wisdom and focus on healing rather than hating.

This applies on the individual level, in relationships, in the community and on the global stage. Yes, and also on the playground.

If we are negative with our children, they will be insecure and either become meek with low self esteem or become negative towards others. If we are negative towards our partner, that will create cracks in the relationship. It will either end or continue with bitterness, resentment and unhappiness.

If we want to be happy, and our happiness depends on the world reshaping itself for us, it is never going to happen. The only way to be happy is to choose to be happy about what is good in our lives and in the world, and to focus on that with gratitude.

If one has the attitude that everything sucks and everyone is out to take advantage of them, and they really don’t like people, it leads to a miserable existence.

Yes, life can be hard and we can become discouraged. Bad things do sometimes happen, and it is not always fair. But if you are on a team and you say, “We suck, we will never win, they cheat and the refs are on their side!” you won’t even try and you bring the whole team down.

Our time on Earth is like a vacation in that it is not permanent, and it will be over before we know it. It is what we make it. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl expresses the view that we cannot always control the circumstances of our lives, but we can control how we react to them. It is a choice.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit and also Like Gwen on Facebook.

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