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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

Would you consider your perspective helpful or detrimental to your ability to achieve your goals? Do you feel optimistic in the most difficult of situations or do you tend to be more pessimistic in the best of times?

Most people fall somewhere in the middle and feel good when things are good and poorly when things are tough. A person’s ability to change perspectives through challenging situations is one of the best measures of one’s potential to be successful.

Think of your perspective like your attitude or mindset in life. If you have a negative attitude, you tend to have a negative perspective on life. Whether your perspective is justified by past events or not is not the focus.

Similarly, if someone grew up believing they have the Midas touch and everything just seems to “go right” for them is irrelevant. Your goal should be to build a mindset that enables you to succeed in life, regardless of the situation.

1. Keep Your Head Up

Someone with a fixed mindset believes there are a lucky few who are blessed with the right genes to become successful.

Studies show someone with a fixed mindset is ill-equipped to tackle many of life’s challenges. [1] They see failure and difficulty as a sign that they are doing the wrong thing.

You may have heard someone explaining why something was not meant for them by talking about how it didn’t come naturally. This perspective cripples the ability of many from reaching their full potential.

Someone with a growth mindset has a different perspective on life. They believe everyone can learn and build the skills necessary to achieve their goals.

They see failure as a sign that their approach was wrong, not as a sign they were wrong. As a result, they will regularly try new things until they achieve their goal.

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Inventors are a classic example of a growth mindset. Their perspective about negative situations is that it is nothing more than a problem they have yet to solve. They see each negative event as being one step closer to success.

2. Change Perspective From the Inside-Out

For you to change perspective about negative events in your life, you first need to change the way you talk to yourself. What you say to yourself regularly will have an impact on the actions you take.

Consider someone who unexpectedly had their employment terminated. If their mind is full of negative self-talk, then they are telling themselves how inadequate they are.

People who believe they will always be a failure are not going to interpret events the same as people who see themselves as successful. There are instances where negative situations are created, in part, due to the negative statements you tell yourself.

In the situation of someone losing their job, what if they constantly told themselves, “my boss doesn’t like me”?

Do you think it will help or hurt someone’s interaction with their boss? How would this perspective impact the times their boss is nice to them? Or how do you think they would respond to constructive criticism?

3. Don’t Open Yourself Up to More Negativity

As you are probably starting to realize, if you don’t change perspective about the negative events in your life, you are opening yourself up to creating more.

If you believe your boss has a negative opinion about you, then you think they are being fake when they are nice to you. You think they are nitpicking or complaining about small things when they offer constructive criticism.

By continuing to negatively interpret events due to negative self-talk, you will continue to produce undesired results.

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Now imagine if you told yourself your boss has your best interests at heart and is only trying to bring the best out of you. That simple change in your perspective better equips you to deal with the perceived negative events in your life.

When your boss offers you constructive criticism, you believe they are investing in your growth. When your boss is nice to you, you welcome the behavior because you see them as your friend and colleague.

When you change perspective, the same events that could have led to failure now work to your benefit.

Focus on What Matters

Your brain can only focus on so many things each day.[2]. As a result, your mind will automatically filter out information it believes is unimportant to you.

A common example of this is when you purchase a new vehicle and you suddenly notice that vehicle everywhere. It is not that everyone purchased the vehicle the same day you did, it was that your mind was blocking the information. It did not believe that a particular make and model car was important to you until you purchased it.

For you to change perspective about negative situations in your life, you must change your daily focus. As was the case when you purchased a new vehicle, you can alter the events your mind recognizes.

Instead of focusing on negative events and how bad things are in life, focus on the things you are grateful for.

4. Find the Silver Lining

It is not always easy, but you can train your mind to focus on what you love most about life.

One great way to train your mind to focus on what you love in life is to create a happiness journal. The way it works is every time something good happens, you write it down in your happiness journal.

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These events could be as simple as you woke up on time or ate a healthy lunch. They could revolve around the effort you put in at work to complete a project. Heck, you could even write about your commitment to stay positive throughout the day. Any event that can be celebrated should be celebrated.

Then when a negative situation occurs, you can flip open your journal to change perspective. Remind yourself how blessed and fortunate you are when you feel you have nothing to celebrate in life.

Read about your successes when you feel you can’t do anything right. Creating a happiness journal will significantly change your perspective about yourself and your life.[3]

5. Become a Guardian Angel

The final way to change perspective about negative situations in your life is to help others. An amazing thing will happen when you start to spend more time focusing on the needs of others.

First, you will feel better about yourself because of how positively others view you. Next, you will begin to realize that while everything is not perfect in life, it could always be worse.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “first world problems”?

It is a funny way to help put negative situations into the proper perspective. While all negative events are unpleasant, there is most certainly a difference.

If you have an inconsiderate boss, while that can make work unpleasant on many occasions, it is still a blessing to have employment. Others feel that their spouse is irresponsible with money, but at least you have a spouse who loves you.

My daughter often talks about the fact that she has an older cellphone, but I have to remind her that she is blessed to have a cell phone at her age.

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6. Challenge Yourself

There is rarely going to be a situation where you cannot find someone going through a negative situation. The problem most people face is they are too busy focusing on the negative events in their life to notice the negative events going on in the lives of others.

When you change perspective from yourself to others, you begin to realize there are a lot of people going through their own negative events, yet they are maintaining a positive perspective about life.

They continue to be grateful for the good things they have. And they understand many of the negative situations they have are tied to blessings – meaning they cannot experience the joy without opening themselves up to the possibility of experiencing pain.

Final Thoughts

To change perspective about negative situations is not about pretending negative things don’t happen, because they do. It is not about always smiling and pretending that everything is wonderful because that isn’t always the case.

Changing your perspective is about acknowledging that negative situations occur, but they do not necessarily cause your demise. You can learn from any situation, and you can always find something to be grateful for. When you train your mind to focus on the things you can control and the things going right in your life, you create an unconquerable resolve to create your dream life.

You acknowledge that difficult does not mean impossible, and you are therefore able to prevail where most people accept defeat.

Learn to Change Your Perspective

Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

Reference

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Published on February 22, 2021

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

Scott Peck’s first sentence in his book, The Road Less Traveled, is, “Life is difficult.” He then goes on to say that if you accept this, you are going to be okay. There is a lot of adversity in life, and none of us are exempt. That’s why we need to focus on the good things in life for us to move forward.

Here are 4 ways you can focus on the good things in life, especially during tough times.

1. “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

The above quote is the title of Dr. Robert Schuller’s outstanding book. The title tells you all you need to know about the book.

We have been through a tough 2020, and 2021 could very well be just as tough. The hope is that vaccines and proper protocols will get us through these difficult times. Americans in the 20th century suffered through two World Wars and the devastating Great Depression. To get through these times, they had to be tough—and they were. Now, it is our turn to show our toughness.

I can think of three examples where people showed their toughness in recent years.

The first has to do with the Catholic Church and the awful pedophilia scandal. I believe it was one of the worst times in the history of the Church. What happened to the children was unconscionable. Another side of the issue was the clergy who were falsely accused. Two of them in the Chicago area knew they were innocent and showed their toughness in different ways.

The first got through it with prayer—praying especially for his accuser. Prayer can be a great way to get through tough times. The second was able to retain his optimism. He said he kept repeating a sentence from John and Bobby Kennedy’s mother, Rose: “After the storm, the birds always sing.”

Both men were exonerated after a most difficult and humiliating time. Their accusers ultimately admitted they had lied.

Another way of getting through times is by calling on the best of people. Winston Churchill, during the worst bombing of London in World War II, told the British people, “Never, never give in!” The British people did just that.

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Another way of getting through times is through determination and work. We were looking to build a gymnasium at Providence High School when I worked there. We drafted a paper giving the rationale as to why we needed the gym and presented it to people of means in our community.

The vote was 16-0 that we should not try to build during such tough economic times. Providence has a gym today because of the work ethic and the determination of one man—Father (then Bishop) Roger Kaffer.

Finally, teams go through tough times in athletics. We started one season 3-6. We decided to go back to the fundamentals. We finished 9-2 and played for the conference championship because we returned to the fundamentals. All organizations can return to their core values during tough times.

Prayer, optimism, calling on our best selves, determination, work, and our core values can get us through tough times.

2. Keep a Good Thought

“Keep a good thought” is an Irish maxim encouraging people to stay positive. We can find the good through tough times by our thinking.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy. It’s what you think about.”

I enjoyed the basketball coach who had an interesting take on thinking. He asked the referee if he could give him a technical foul for what he was thinking. The ref said of course not; the coach then responded, “I think you stink!”

Willie Nelson, in one of his many songs, stressed to be careful of negative thinking. Paraphrasing, the refrain was, “Think of the good times because the bad times weigh like lead on your mind.”

Our students at the University of St. Francis would annually go to Bolivia to help the people build and repair homes. When I asked them what they learned from the trip, they said two things—they could not believe the poverty the people lived in nor could they believe the positive attitude with which the people lived. Their kindness, humor, and compassion were incredible. Somehow, they consistently kept a good thought, despite their tough circumstances.

Mother Teresa summed up keeping a good thought when she wrote, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

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You can focus on the good things in life when you are determined to “Keep a Good Thought” through hardships.

3. Be in the Moment

We focus on the good things when we are happy. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “If you want to be happy do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”

Two emotions that can deprive us of our happiness are guilt and worry. Jeffrey Nevid called them the “useless emotions.”

Guilt refers to the past. We can elect to carry guilt for something we did in the past. That is our prerogative, but the bottom line is we cannot change it. It’s over! What we can do, however, is learn from it, then move on. Learning from it is the easy part; moving on, the only realistic thing to do, admittedly is the hard part.

Mark Twain had a great insight into guilt’s partner, worry, when he wrote, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which happened.”

Too often, we worry about things that never materialize. If guilt and worry are tied to our past and future and if they are “useless emotions,” then the only alternative is to live in the present.

In my first 25 years of coaching basketball at the University of St. Francis, we had no bus to take us to road games. We, the coaches, drove the vans. There were 21 NAIA teams in Illinois and only 6 made the playoffs. We finally had the chance to be one of the 6 but we had to win one more game. The team we played was about 5 hours away. We were down 12 with 4 minutes to go in the game. We rallied to make 2 free throws with 2 seconds left to go and we were up by 1 point.

They inbounded the ball to our free-throw line, some 79 feet away from their basket. Their player threw a “Hail Mary” ball toward their basket—it went right in and knocked us out of the playoffs! I had the option of dwelling on that incredulous ending and living in the past or living in the present and driving our players back to campus safely! Fortunately, we made it home.

We can focus on the good by making ourselves happy. Many people have validated that we can make ourselves happy.

Aristotle kept it simple, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”

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The Dalai Lama wrote, “Happiness is not something that is readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

The actress Aubrey Hepburn had this insight, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”

Mahatma Gandhi saw it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When we will ourselves into a state of happiness by staying in the present moment, we can focus on the good things in life.

4. Help Others

Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.”

A former high school classmate, Pat Warren, was constantly cheering up our friends when they were experiencing tough times. I would hear about the person suffering and tell myself I must get to see him. Inevitably, by the time I finally got to see him, Pat had already been there. He constantly focused on the good things he could do for others, especially during their difficult times.

Joe Madden, the former Chicago Cubs manager, used to tell his players, “Don’t ever let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I saw one of his players execute the pleasure.

One of my grandchildren was playing in a Little League game on Chicago’s north side. He was playing on one field and there was another game on an adjacent field. When I looked to the other field, the game had stopped and all the players and fans had surrounded someone.

Ben Zobrist lived near the park where the kids were playing. He had been the Most Valuable Player of the previous year’s World Series. So, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well this next year, but he did not let the pressure exceed his giving pleasure.

The Cubs had a game that day and he lived close enough to Wrigley Field, their home park, so he would often ride his bike to games in his uniform. However, before riding to his game this day, he rode over to the park where we were.

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The players and the adults were excited to see and meet the 2016 World Series MVP. He stayed in the park until he signed every autograph for every person on both fields! It was an act of random kindness as he gave the kids great pleasure. He focused on the good despite the pressure he was about to face in his game.

Numerous pundits have great insights into the many facets of helping others.

Catherine Pulsifer said, “People appreciate and never forget that helping hand, especially when times are tough.”

Martin Luther King wrote, ”Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.”

Charles Dickens spoke about the two kinds of people who help. “There were two kinds of charitable people: one, the people who did little and made a great deal of noise; the other the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

Finally, Jim Rohn wrote about the relationship between giving and receiving, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Helping others, especially during tough times, enables you to focus on the good things in life.

Final Thoughts

We can focus on the good things in life during difficult times in four ways:

  • By being tough and not fearing the tough times
  • By keeping a good thought
  • By staying in the moment
  • By being there for others

Remember that tough times are inevitable, but they will also inevitably end. The key is to focus on the good, and you’ll get there eventually.

More Tips on How to Focus on the Good

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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