There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
— W. Clement Stone
When I was a teenager I was the primary target of an extremely persistent bully at my high school. One day I came home in tears and wrote this on the whiteboard hanging on my bedroom wall: “I hate bullies. They make me feel like a loser.”
The next day, while I was at school, my grandmother erased what I wrote on the whiteboard and replaced it with this: “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.”
And from that day forward I felt better. I made a conscious decision to stop letting the bully get inside my head. I changed my beliefs about his level of importance in my life.
It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control over what you choose to believe. You can effectively defend yourself against all kinds of negativity by adopting simple, yet powerful, beliefs that support a positive outlook in the face of seemingly negative circumstances.
Below you will find 15 such beliefs that have helped free me from the grips of negativity. I have these beliefs written down in my journal, and I review them on a regular basis, as needed, just to keep them fresh in my mind. I hope you will join me by adopting them into your own belief system as well…
- What other people say about me is their problem, not mine. – Don’t take other people’s negativity personally. Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality. Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you. What others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.
- I am free to be ME. – Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want. Stop living for other people and their opinions. Be true to yourself. You are the only person in charge of your life. The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it?
- Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is great. – Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement. To get up every morning and take and good look around in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is extraordinary. Every day is a gift. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. (Read The Happiness Project.)
- It’s okay to have down days. – Expecting life to be wonderful all the time is wanting to swim in an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down. However, when you recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the exact same ocean, you are able to let go and be at peace with the reality of these ups and downs. It becomes clear that life’s ups require life’s downs.
- Even when I’m struggling, I have so much to be grateful for. – What if you awoke today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday? We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but of appreciating everything we do have. Stress thrives when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness thrives when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for right now.
- Every experience is just another important lesson. – Disappointments and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. So don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. When things go wrong, learn what you can and then push the tragedies and mistakes aside. Remember, life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. We must fail in order to know, and hurt in order to grow. Good things often fall apart so better things can fall together in their place.
- Not everything is meant to stay. – Change can be terrifying, yet all positive growth and healing requires change. Sometimes you have to find the good in goodbye. Because the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong, keep taking small steps, and eventually you will find what you’re looking for. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it.
- Being wrong is the first step to being right. – Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places. To be creative and productive in life, you must first lose your fear of being wrong. And remember, a fear like this can only survive inside you if you let it live there.
- I do not need to hold on to what’s holding me back. – You are not what has happened to you; you are what you choose to become. It’s time to break the beliefs and routines that have been holding you back. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer grows you. Listen to your intuition, not your ego. When you stop chasing the wrong beliefs, you give the right ideas a chance to catch you. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- My happiness today is simply the result of my thinking. – Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but WITH YOU. It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere. Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice. Remember, you can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions, and opportunities. If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would try your best to never think another negative thought again.
- Who I spend quality time with matters. – Surround yourself with people who lift you higher – those who see the great potential in you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.
- Drama and judgments are a waste of perfect happiness. – Make a promise to yourself. Promise to stop the drama before it begins, to breathe deeply and peacefully, and to love others and yourself without conditions. Promise to laugh at your own mistakes, and to realize that no one is perfect; we are all human. Feelings of self-worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- Most people are judging me far less than it seems. – The truth is, while you’re busy worrying about what others think of you, they’re busy worrying about what you think of them. Crazy? Yes, but true. The good news is this knowledge instantly frees you to let loose and do more of what YOU want. And while doing so, you’ll also liberate others to do the same.
- I can make the world a happier place. – Do your best to help one person every day in some small way. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answers to our own. When the people around us are happier, it’s a lot easier to smile.
- The work is worth it. – Lose the expectation that everything in life should be easy. It rarely is. In fact, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Enjoy the challenge of your achievements. See the value in your efforts and be patient with yourself. And realize that patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams. It’s knowing deep down that the work is well worth it in the end.
What is the biggest source of negativity in your life? What helps you stay motivated in the face of this negativity? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Elijah Nouvelage
My biggest source of negativity is my own thinking. I often spend a lot of time thinking about all of the things that I have to do…
I have to wake up early for work. I have to make another business call. I have to work out today. I have to do household chores. I have to make dinner for my family. I have to go to my son’s soccer game.
But with the help of your blog and book, I’ve learned to be more positive and flip my thinking around. I’ve started changing the way I feel about things by changing the words I use in my self-talk. In fact, I have really only switched one word…
I don’t “have” to. I “get” to.
I get to wake up early for work. I get to make another business call. I get to work out today. I get to do household chores. I get to make dinner for my family. I get to go to my son’s soccer game.
As you mention in your book, you have to remind yourself that the things you do each day are not burdens, they’re opportunities. Too often, the things we view as work are actually rewards in disguise.
To free yourself of negativity, you must embrace your constraints. Fall in love with your life. You don’t have to. You get to.
Christy King says
I love J.J.’s comment. It’s all in how you look at it. I found it takes some time to change how you look at any given event. At first it feels forced – and why not? It is, isn’t it? To force yourself to put a positive spin on something you might not ordinarily appreciate. But after awhile, I discovered, it starts to stick. I really do feel more grateful and happier.
Kevin B. says
Marc, thank you for the quote: “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship.” Excellent advice from your grandmother. It gives me a new perspective to keep my smile even when I sometimes find pain and disappointment around me.
Everything you write – your blog posts, newsletters, book, etc. – have been giving me the strength and motivation to get through a very difficult time filled with negativity. I appreciate everything you and Angel do.
Sandra Pawula says
That’s an amazing quote from your grandmother! A true gift for you and for all of us.
I completely agree that everything depends upon how we perceive. We can train our mind – over time- to see things in a new and fresh way.
I especially like your reminder that life is always changing, there will be waves sometimes. So much suffering comes from expecting life to be a static state of happiness. There’s a bigger happiness to be found in just being spacious to whatever arises.
I have many sources of negativity around me. I just read about the quote… “You’re the average of five people that you spend the most time with.” This is what happened to me. I still do feel frustrated that I allowed it to happen. I just had a wake up call and realized that these people is such an influence on how I behave in the past few months. And I allowed their negativity to have an effect on my everyday living. Instead of lifting me up. Their attitude towards life is bringing me down. I made the decision to just spend less time with them.
What helps me motivated?
Reading positive, inspiring and motivating blogs and books like yours. Your writing is one of the greatest sources of positivity. It never fails to uplift me. 🙂 It makes me more aware of what’s happening in the present. I believe that having positive thoughts and actions will lead to positive results.
I also remind myself that life is too short to be angry or negative all the time.
Shanthy Thangavelu says
Great article Marc and Angel. Truly appreciate it. Thank you.
Lovely post Marc!
I could say that the biggest source of negativity in my life are those closest to me. But I have a choice: I don’t have to hang around them. I can love people from a distance.
I also can let them be who they are. If they want to blame and complain, so be it. But I can “tune out” and choose not to listen.
I’m a different place in my life because I chose to stop blaming and complaining. I chose to take responsibility for my choices and life.
Meditation helps me to stay motivated as does seeing what I looked like once before in the reflection of others. Yikes! I have no desire to go backwards, only forwards.
Abdul Rauf says
‘What other people think of me is none of my business’ is the thing I must focus on. Right now I am passing through very hard times, and your articles soothe me. Thanks for it. It has been excellent to be your reader of these positive principles for life. But sometimes I still get negative because things are not going the way I think they are supposed to. What should I do at that time? Any tips for snapping out of a bout of negativity? Thanks.
The Eagles, in their song “Already Gone” sing this line: “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we don’t even know we have the key”. Always remember that we hold our own keys to happiness, health, prosperity and freedom!
I think the number one, absolute key to beating negativity is to become comfortable in your own skin. Live your life for you and the ones you love and don’t try to be someone you are not.
susan van den bergh says
My ‘source’ of negativity is that of others’ depleting, negativity (attitude & self-pity). So I try to distance myself from them, let go, in order to thrive on my own positive attitude, creativity, vision, etc. SERVES ME WELL & also serves others who are RECEPTIVE for personal transformation, growth, etc. Thank you for sharing, Love Sue xxx
Emily Filloramo says
Great article since so many people believe that they are doomed to a life of negativity. There’s nothing happy about churning in old negative memories and being around negative people.
Steve Jobs famously said, “You can connect the dots of your life looking backwards.”
We need to remember that the Universe purposely gives us negative experiences for the evolution of our souls. It’s up to us to make “lemonade” out of our “lemons”.
When you make sense of your life and find your life’s calling, you will be excited to jump out of bed in the morning because you will have SOOO much to do to live to your potential and to make a difference in the world.
This is how I have made sense of all the negative events of my life. I figured out my calling when I turned 50.
Another important thing to diminish negativity is to heal the young “parts” of you that hold faulty beliefs such as “I’m not lovable, I’m not enough”.
These negative parts were acquired from toxic devaluing experiences from childhood. These parts cause you to feel wounded, negative and sad.
When these young parts get love from the highest version of you (by telling him/her that he/she IS lovable), your negative beliefs will be overturned and you will believe “I am lovable, I am enough, etc.”
Now it’s hard for me to feel sad or negative because my “parts” have been healed. I know now that I have been brought here to live out a mission and I couldn’t do the work I do now without my traumatic experiences.
So try to figure out what your life’s purpose is by “connecting the dots of your life looking backwards”.
Also, when you heal the “parts” of you that get triggered by certain events and people, the filter through which you live day to day gets upgraded and you’ll experience less negativity.
DeBorah Ann Palmer says
Great tips. Very difficult to put into practice but I’m going to try. I know I’m overly sensitive. A few weeks ago after an especially stressful day at work I cried for an entire weekend. As much as one tries to stay positive there is only so much the human spirit and soul can take before you break down. Many times I wish I could be as tough on the inside as I must portray myself to other human beings. When I was a kid we used to say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s not true. Gossip, slander and libel do hurt people. If it gets into the wrong ears not just one’s reputation is ruined. If people in authority feel you can’t be trusted or you’re doing something illegal it affects every aspect of your life especially if you must apply or ask for much needed favors. To the extreme people have been imprisoned or put to death over false accusations. You can’t get time back nor can you get your life back.
Unfortunately, the biggest source of negativity in my life is probably my own difficulties letting go of someone in my past, and trying to find the balance between that need to let go and following my intuition that in constantly screaming “don’t let go.” I’ve adopted a (nearly) daily meditative practice to battle this negative seed in my mind and to help me focus on the present moment; the only moment I have any direct control over. My successes fluctuate from day to day, but even small progress is progress that I appreciate. Thank you again for your consistant reminders. Happy Monday.
This is a great post. I will definitely save that quote your grandmother wrote 🙂
Time is a great teacher. I find myself letting negativity gets to me when something goes wrong or when a lot of things go wrong at the same time, when something doesn’t happen the way I want. But then time goes by and I realized that was what needed to happen in order for better things to come, in order to get to know myself better and to develop some resiliance and strenght. You’re right, the journey is the important thing. Everything happens for a reason, good and bad.
Thanks for this article!
Steve O says
I feel so blessed to have found you Marc and Angel! I’m going to incorporate you into my daily inspirational readings! Blessings 😉
I LOVE what your grandmother did/said! I wish someone had said that to me when I was going through it instead of, “Stick and stones may break my bones…”
I wish I had your grandma…. 🙁
You are very very lucky to have had such a wise wonderful soul in your life.
Jamie McConochie says
Fantastic post! All 15 points are so spot on, and so needed in today’s world.
The biggest source of my negativity is my wife of 3 years. She is leaving me and taking our children. And she is always being so negative to me and also she has moved and has started dating someone else. My greatest source of motivation right now is getting financially stronger so I can support my children from afar.
Dave Nordella says
My biggest source of negativity is my desire to have things be the way they “ought to be.” I am learning the power of living in gratitude with the way that things are. It is an irony that being free from trying to control what happens around me enables me to better control myself. Ironic because I am better able to improve my life as I learn how to control my perceptions and reactions.
I think the biggest source of negativity in my life is my struggles with self confidence. For me, this means I find myself putting up with things from others and situations around me that just further erodes my happiness. I’ve only started to see this recently … This crazy cycle begun with my own insecurity and lack of faith. I am really hoping that this realization can help me reorganize my thought and behavior patterns to stop the self sabotage.
foster taciak says
Once again you guys hit it the nail on the head… the first million dollars i get I’m sending to you. 😉
Shashi @ RunninSrilankan says
Love your grandmother’s analogy – very well put!
What does one do when the negativity in your life is your 83 year old mother who lives with you? My friends tell me I am one of the most positive people they have ever met, but my mom is THE MOST negative person I have ever met! It gets harder and harder to remain positive being around her but she is elderly and needs my help. I am trying to take good care of myself-exercising, Bible study group, weekly dates with my husband, time with friends, etc. Thanks for your blog…it helps! 🙂
Great articles – this one especially. I’m at work & can’t stop reading. I need help with letting go of a traumatic past relationship which has affected my present relationship. Which is how I stumbled across your blog today. I don’t know what to do, or how to find a way to just let that go subconsciously. Maybe by being more mindful. If anyone has tried some sort of treatment, please recommend some suggestions. I really need to let go of it directly… because all along I thought I had let go of it, but negative feelings keep creeping back into my mind.
My biggest source of negativity stems from my inability to let go of the past. A year ago my boyfriend of four years left me for my best friend of fifteen years. The pain and stress and feeling of loss is still as fresh as it was the day it all went down. I think I am now incredibly negative because I feel like I can no longer trust anyone. I do love your suggestions and try to incorporate them in to my life, I just have to let it go, but, that is so much easier said than done.
Melissa Webster says
@mirthy, Great comment! Your outlook on life is inspiring.
@emilyfilloramo, LOVE the Steve Jobs quote. He’s one of my heroes and I was just thinking about that very quote last night. I’ve been connecting the dots a lot lately.
@DeBorah Ann Palmer, Jeez. Unless you’re actually gossiping or doing something illegal, slandering someone or committing libelous (?) offenses, maybe simple communication of your’s and their concerns would clear up the misunderstandings. Clarity does wonders and prevents unnecessary drama, pain and hurtful actions.
@V, I knew who I was, and I was already resilient and strong before the “journey.” I didn’t need any of it to happen to find that out about myself. And putting someone through something painful and emotionally/professionally debilitating just for the sake of putting someone through it, because of someone else’s fears and insecurities no less, isn’t a “reason,” nor is it justified or right. It’s arrogance and ignorance, not to mention completely narcissistic, and makes the toxic people no better than their perceived grievances against the person they’re hurting.
I guess what I’m saying is sometimes bad things just happen and there is no valid reason for it, nor is it a door to something better. Sometimes life just sucks and people suck and sh!t happens. And we deal with what we can’t ignore about it, and focus on what will help us heal from it.
Personally, I write. When I feel negativity coming over me, I write something, at least a little bit every day that’s positive, and I feel happier and more centered.
As usual, marc and angel, this was a great post and very timely. Thank you.
My biggest source of negativity is me. Point #2, “I am free to be ME.” For so long I was someone else to others, wife, mother, worker. Now that I am alone, I have forgotten how to be ME. I am scared, and become more worried every day.
Again, I say that I am my own worst enemy. I am trying to take small steps, one day at a time, but every time there is a setback, I feel it is ME. I have a hard time trying to be positive when this keeps happening.
I read every comment, and it seems to me that even though there are many people that have some of the same issues, there are also so many more people that really have all this figured out, and are getting on with their lives.
I know I need to get my self confidence back, but this is so easy to say, and so very hard to do. The best I can do I believe is to keep trying.
Thank you all, your feedback is very helpful.
Larry Hochman says
“What other people say about me is their problem, not mine.”
Perfect! The need for approval is one of the most pervasive and destructive forces that keeps people from achieving what they want. Great way to start the post!
The one that resonated most with me from this list was #4. It is okay to have down days. That is an awesome thought. Some days will be like that…we should try to withhold judgment from ourselves–just go with it, sometimes!
I love your Gran’s quote and wisdom… Like many others, my greatest source of negativity is my own attack thoughts towards others who push my buttons (real or imagined).
From studying A Course in Miracles, I’ve learned to see this as “a call to love” and use it as an opportunity to extend blessings of what seems to be missing.
By acknowledging this higher call to love, I’m also acknowledging the love I have to offer. And by sending a blessing, I’m increasing the idea of love in my own mind. This is always very effective for inducing a state of peace and gratitude, completely wiping hostility from my mind. After all, I’d rather be happy than be “right”.
It’s not always a source of negativity, but I find I get into the habit of letting work take over my life. I am trying to make a conscious effort to go home each evening and focus on ME and doing what I want to do and leaving work behind in a separate space!
A thought for you all to ponder…
if everyone threw their problems into one big pile I bet you would happily take back your own problems.
Be thankful for one thing every day…
Believe in yourself, love comes from the inside if you don’t love yourself it’s very difficult to love others
Melissa Webster says
Thank you @Lorna for this suggestion. I’m going to try your method and see if it helps.
When I was younger, I was picked on constantly in school. My Father had died when I was very young and my parents were from another country, so I felt odd enough to begin with; the town I grew up in was a bit snobby, so I always felt odd, even though from an economic standpoint, I was “an equal.” I also was blessed with a loving family. But out in the world of schools, everyone seemed so together. They all had friends. They were invited to parties, had “play dates” and did things I could only dream of. I literally had one friend. There were times I thought “I just can’t bear it anymore.” The teasing and insults were so horrible, I cried a lot and really longed to feel like I mattered…that I had value.
Finally, by 11th grade, I changed — I became more confident and made more friends and was finally invited to parties and other events. It was great because I wasn’t so lonely any more. I think for me the loneliness was the worst. I’m not sure how or why I changed, but I did and I’m grateful for that.
To this day, I cry thinking about kids or anyone for that matter, being bullied. It breaks my heart.
There was a time when I held onto the way I was treated and I longed for revenge against my tormentors…I’ve let go of that source of negativity. In large part because I realized that they bullied because they had issues — they had bad things going on in their lives and their outlet, unfortunately, was to mis-treat me and others.
I wish someone had told me #13 in my teens and 20s. Oh well. New day 🙂
Thank you so much for this – it’s something I definitely needed to read today!
Joe Lee says
It all boils down to self esteem. With self esteem alone, one no longer worry about the perception from others. All you know is you just live the kind of life you want regardless of what others say.
First thanks you for the wonderful advice. My negativity is usually from my past experiences, but after AWAKING , I’m became agreeably that these problems occurs – so I no longer resist them, because I learned a lot from what I’ve been through 🙂
Great post. Reminds me that it’s okay to have down days and that they don’t last always. Your posts always uplift me. I am not working right now because i am not able to. I sometimes forget that I didn’t cause this. You remind me that life is still good and I am still blessed in so many ways. You make me see that I still have options and possibilities. I get discouraged when things don’t go like I want or think I need. I forget that maybe that is not the path. The right path is waiting for me I need to keep moving along. Thanks.
Jill Waterfall says
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about the way you were treated by that high school bully! Though, you know what they say, through our battles we only emerge stronger, and I can see that was certainly true in your case!
Thanks for sharing these, they are all very important things we tend to forget about in our day to day lives, and this post is a great reminder that our views definitely shape our reality!
Hope you’re having a good day!
Again a wonderful article.
One of the most difficult points for me personally is point #4: It’s ok to have down days … well, theoretically I know that, but I’m a perfectionist (what is nothing bad, generally) who always needs to have a plan about everything. So I plan my day or my week and if something destroys my plan, I get really nervous. I’m really working on that and trying to improve constantly.
Just today someone cancelled an appointment with me at short notice and I went to do some shopping that I actually planned for tomorrow. So I spend the rest of the day in the city and postponed all other activities planned for the afternoon until tomorrow. Surprisingly, I don’t feel too bad about it at the moment, so I made a big step forward : )
It’s really the mindset that has to change. But it’s hard work and articles like this help a lot.
Marc Chernoff says
@J.J: Very well said, and how interesting that changing one word can completely transform your outlook. Thank you for sharing.
@Mirthy: Sounds like you’re on the right path, keep up the great work! =)
@DeBorah Ann Palmer: It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again. And a smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy. Sometimes it simply means they are strong enough to face their problems.
@Greg: You’re making progress! Keep your head up.
@Foster Taciak: Pay it forward and stay in touch! =) You got that million in the bag.
@All: All too often the common answer is “My biggest source of negativity is me.” Realize you have full control over yourself. Decide today to think differently, to change that self talk. You are full of positivity; let yourself be the first to see it. As always, thank you for all the love and support. YOU continue to inspire us every day.
The family I grew up in is my greatest source of negativity. I decided to walk away from them recently and it is the hardest and best decision I’ve ever made. I’m 50 and I’ve spent my entire life putting their wants and needs above my own. They all taught me as a child, that I was inferior to them, and not as smart. Today, I’m finally realizing that it isn’t true (I have two college degrees and my siblings don’t have any), and I’m excited to shed those untruths about myself and move on. I finally feel free to be me.
Steve W. says
Excellent article! The reason so many people are negative is related to how easy it is to adopt that attitude and how hard it is to maintain a positive mental attitude. So I live by the credo to not ‘should’ on myself and recognize that ‘we are not so much defined by our differences, as by our choices’.
The right to choose is #11 of our Bill of Rights and ‘To thine own self be true’ is my 11th Commandment.
And finally, for me #1. is the one that I fully subscribe to… ‘What other people say about me is their problem, not mine.’
So many things should not be taken to heart. However, many of the points you’ve listed here should be. Thanks for sharing!!!
Alex Gordon says
My biggest source of negativity is my friend Jordan. I think she’s not happy with herself within so she tries to be some goody two shoes when she’s not like that. If someone would give me a res
I fully agree with you. It is me that makes my life a misery, always concerned about what others think of me. What I need to learn is how to avoid it. I have the diagnosis, now I need the medicine only I can provide.
I no longer have any negative feelings….. but when I was much younger, I use to have those feelings sometimes for circumstances, and I overcome by singing this song to myself (Mariah’s Theme, Can’t Take That Away From Me) Very motivating song, find it on youtube. Stay positive guys.x
My main worry is finance and how little I have achieved at my age (over 60).