Stay Positive

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

– Herm Albright

This might seem like common sense– especially on a website such as IEvo, but hear me out.  This is going to have a lot to do with me, because while there is a great deal to extol on the topic of positive thinking, I think there is little that would convey the message better than a personal experience.  You have been warned!

It’s tough staying positive

Recently I’ve been going through a tough time (Relatively tough, anyway.) in my life and it’s become a lot more difficult to maintain a positive attitude.  Everyone keeps going on about how the job market is incredibly poor right now and how difficult it is to get a position.  While I was employed I scoffed at the prospect.  Surely there were jobs out there and that they weren’t that hard to find.  People just weren’t looking hard enough.

I now know better.  Having a rather unique resume in that I jumped straight from retail experience into much higher profile jobs like working for the municipal school board and then for a University without any formal education backing me, my resume makes me look like a jack of all trades.  As such, people pass me over for those who are more specialized, or those who have some formal training as opposed to just experience.

In any case, my resume isn’t the reason you’re reading, so suffice it to say that I’ve been having trouble landing a traditional kind of job, and it’s really taken it’s toll on my attitude towards life.  I realized recently how detrimental that really was and, well… here we are.

Life in the shoes of a pessimist

I wasn’t always a positive person.  In fact, for the majority of my life I was the most bitter pessimistic individual you could possibly meet.  Of course, I didn’t call myself a ‘pessimist’.  No, I was a realist. Reality was crap, I thought, and I was just being realistic when I was expecting terrible things to happen.

Strangely, throughout this entire time I didn’t quite realize that I was expecting bad things to happen.  I thought that I was just objectively looking at the facts and choosing the most probable outcome.  I wasn’t being negative, I just knew what usually happened.

And the truth was, a lot of crappy stuff happened to me while I was busy being a pessimist.  I had a terrible time in school and I remember staying up at night, lamenting life in general.  I just kept thinking about how I’d be stuck going to school, then stuck in a job, then stuck with a low income, etc. etc.  Sometimes I would think I wouldn’t even be able to get a job when I was older because I was doing poorly in school. (Apparently you have to actually hand assignments in to get grades…  who knew?)  I just wasn’t interested.

I had a few personal catastrophe’s when I was going through that period, and the last one I ever had spurred on my search for a different way.  One that was better.  I saw people who I thought had it all.  I saw people who seemed to be genuinely happy every single day, and that was remarkable to me.  I didn’t know how it was possible.  I figured that it was just the fact that they had things better.  Maybe they had a better home life or maybe they just enjoyed school.  Maybe they knew the right people or had more money than I did.  I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that something was setting me apart from those who were happy, and I knew that someone had to know what that was.

So, I looked it up.  I hopped onto google and started typing.  I looked up a few specific issues I knew I was having and those ended up opening doors for me I hadn’t even known existed.  It opened the door to the mind, and introduced me to what at the time seemed like a wild concept: As within, so without.

Becoming Positive

When I was first introduced to the concept of ‘As within, so without.’ it was not decorated for my consumption.  Many people know that concept now from movies like The Secret and from Law of Attraction resources that claim that forces beyond our perception are moving and shaking things to conform to what we’re thinking about.  When I first heard about it, it was put to me as I will now put it to you:

When you say you are something, you are choosing it.  When you think of yourself in a certain way, you become that way if your thoughts are consistent.  If you imitate something enough times, you start to actually become the imitation.  When you say something enough times, you actually start to believe it.

But most importantly, your life is what you decide it is. The difference, I read, between people who were happy and seemed to have it all and people like myself at the time was that the people who were happy made the decision to be happy.  They decided they weren’t going to be negative– they were going to have a great life, be the person they wanted to be and live life to the fullest.

I don’t know if I can convey how incredibly life-changing this information was to me at the time.  Because unless you’re ready for it it just doesn’t have the same impact.  I had heard similar information before, but I never believed it.  It blew by me like a leaf in the wind, instead of the complete and utter soul wash it gave me when I sought out the information on my own.

From that moment on I decided that I wasn’t going to be one of these people who felt like the world was always crashing down around them.  I wasn’t going to be the guy who was always down on his luck.  I wasn’t going to be the nay-sayer.  I was done with negativity.

So the next day…

I was exactly the same as I was the day previously– Other than that I had this new information solidly implanted into the cells of my brain, and that it was quite slowly taking root.  I made a few minor changes but nothing that really changed my life overnight.

And I realize now that the reason my life didn’t change over night is because that’s just not how major personal changes work.  They take time.  I stumbled upon this life-altering information 6 years ago. I’m still working on implementing it, and I’m still not where I want to be.  But I’m a hell of a lot farther than I was 6 years ago.

Once the change had rooted

I would say that only in the last 3 years have I really managed to be positive, and I still struggle with it because of the habits that had developed throughout the majority of my life.  When you do something so religiously your entire life– when you literally think a certain way, trying to change that habit takes time.

During these last 3 years though, remarkable things have happened.  Things I believe I would be naive to describe as happening purely by chance.  In 2007 it was as if I had been driving 40km/h my whole life.  That year I finally decided to put my foot down on the accelerator of my life and realized, much to my excitement, that I was driving a Lamborghini.

Being positive caused me to do many things I otherwise would have never done.

I told the love of my life that I was in love with her, despite the fact that she was seeing someone else and lived in a completely different country from me, AND despite the fact that I was leaving in a week to go to live in Ireland for a year– 3,500 miles away I told her anyway.

Pessimist me wouldn’t have told her if we had lived next door to each other, because I would have been terrified of rejection and I would have expected it.

Optimist me told her and we’re going to be married next month, and have lived together for almost two years.  Neither of us have ever been happier.

I got a working visa for a year and travelled to Ireland, scared half to death on the day of my flight because I had never even ridden on an air-plane on my own before, never mind going on an 8-hour flight to a foreign country to live with no promise of a job.  I got a job after my first month and had one of the best times of my life there.

I not only started to write a book, I finished it.  I’m in the midst of trying to get it published, and although I’ve already had my first rejection, I know it will be published and that it’s just a matter of time.  I would’ve never gotten past the first chapter had I been pessimistic, because as most people will tell you, it can be absolutely brutal trying to make it as a living as a writer.

I could go on and on about all the things that have happened to me in such a short time, but listing them off isn’t really the point.  The point is that EVERYTHING turned out for my benefit.  Quite literally everything.  Even things that seemed like they were going to be terrible turned out so overwhelmingly in my favour that I sometimes can barely believe that I’m recounting actual events when I tell people.

There’s no scientific proof behind what I’m telling you.  In this case, I don’t have any hard facts to back up what I’m saying, and I know that for a lot of people, they need that before they’ll make a change in their life.  (Ironically, I was also one of those people before I became an optimist.)  All I can tell you is that if you bother to make he change to a positive attitude, you will be astonished in how your life starts to play out.  You won’t notice it after a day, or after a week.  But when you look back on the last few years you’ll start to realize that something is radically different.

And then you will start to notice it day-to-day.  In the little things that used to bother you that don’t anymore.  In the little victories you get every day, and in the quality of your life in general.  I started to realize that all those events that I thought rationally would have a negative outcome were being affected by my own biased position.

In reality there was a 50/50 chance that the outcome of an event would be positive or negative– and who knows what odds that some other, unrelated event would change the entire situation for the better.  Life is strange, and we don’t have the breadth of knowledge as individuals to logically evaluate all of its possibilities and decide which is more probable.

And so, by assuming positively I am usually quite happy and much more prepared for the challenge life dishes out than I was when I was down on myself all the time.

Stay Positive

I wrote this not only as a message to those of you who read my articles, but also as a reminder to myself.  No matter how bad things appear to be going, if you keep that positive attitude life works itself out in your favour.  This phenomenon is something you won’t truly believe in unless you start to practice it.  It is bizarre.  It is ironic.  And it is, in my opinion, wholly inexplicable by rational reasoning.

But it works.

2 Responses to “Stay Positive”

  1. Claude Vian says:

    Those designed for greatness are going to be tested and have to overcome road blocks while people that are destined for mediocrity will have it effortless

    • Tom says:

      Strange how that works, isn’t it? Looking at anyone who has had major, major success, they were all faced with extreme adversity before exploding. And the one thing they had in common was that they soldiered on.

  2. [...] with becoming an optimist.  Once you’ve become optimistic about most things in life, you’re already 3/4′s [...]

  3. [...] on personal development that will talk ad-nauseam about the mental side of things– How to be positive, how to conquer fear, how to be self-disciplined, but almost none of them talk about the importance [...]

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