There’s a lot of talk about positivity and happiness these days. There are books and documentaries about it. Research has been done on it. There are even doctoral degree programs popping up in the areas of positivity.
The license plate on my car since 1986 has been a derivative of “Being Positive.” I chose “being” rather than “be” because I wanted to encourage people to make the effort required in being positive. In a world where societal ills are constantly blasted at us on a 24/7 news cycle through radio, TV, internet, and social networking, there is a natural tendency toward negativity. In fact, the percentage of Americans taking some form of anti-depressant is supporting evidence of a prevalence of negativity. Therefore, a herculean effort is necessary to choose positivity.
Positivity is possible, but for the overwhelming majority of us, it doesn’t come naturally. What most articles and books on happiness and positivity talk about are attitudes, which is extremely helpful, but where they seem to stop is in the basic “how-to” of daily life. Having spent decades making the effort to attain happiness through positivity, I have some basic tips for anyone who is serious about doing what’s necessary to being happy.
Happiness Tip #1
Don’t gossip. Period. And what I mean by gossip is talking about someone who is not in the room and who has not given you express permission to speak to others about him or her. The ONLY exception to this is when an intervention is needed for the person’s own good. And even then the conversation should only be had with someone who is able to DO SOMETHING about the problem.
Don’t talk about someone behind their back under the thinly veiled disguise of asking for prayer for that person or because you are concerned about them. If you want to ask someone to pray for someone else, just ask them to pray. If you’re worried about someone else, pray for them, offer that person your assistance or a listening ear, then keep their confidence as though your life depended on it.
Don’t share what you know about other people’s business unless they have given you express permission to do so. If someone confided in you that he is having financial trouble, or conversely, that he just won the lottery, keep it in confidence. Without permission, it is NOT okay to tell others what’s been told to you, whether it’s good, bad, or neutral. If it’s bad, it’s definitely gossip, and gossip is wrong, always. If it’s good, don’t steal the other person’s big moment by revealing the great news before they’re ready. Consider also that some people may not want to tell everyone what just happened. In the analogy of winning the lottery, some people wouldn’t want the unsolicited requests that inevitably accompany a windfall.
It is not gossip to praise someone or to recognize and celebrate their character or accomplishments with others. Feel free to do that. In fact, the more of that in our culture, the better.
Psychology tells us that behavior that is recognized and rewarded is repeated. In other words, when we “catch people” doing something good and let them know that we value and appreciate what they did, and then tell others about the good that person is doing, that person (and everyone in our influence) is more likely to repeat the recognized good behavior. In business, we say that, “what gets measured, gets done.” In other words, when people know that we are paying attention to their good character and their good deeds, they are more likely to do good deeds that show their good character traits.
So, the first step in being more positive and enjoying more happiness, is to eliminate gossip and other negative talk from our lives. Determine to replace those conversations with talk of “catching people” doing good. Watch for acts of kindness by people in our lives, by people with whom we interact, by total strangers, and by the people we hear about who are doing good in the world (you have to actively watch and listen for bright spots in the torrent of bad news). In so doing we’ll be eliminating the negativity and increasing the positivity in our lives, and thereby increasing our happiness and the happiness of others. Increased positivity = increased happiness = better world.
Check back for more happiness tips.
About the author: Rhonda Sciortino, author of Successful Survivors , used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected].