It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. - Marcus Aurelius
If you are reading this, you're alive right now. You're breathing. And you've been called to much much more than anything you could ever imagine.
That means you've got one shot. One life. One chance to get it done. What is that eternal "it"? It's different for everyone so I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that.
But what I can say is the one thing all of us want is to be happy.
Happy with our choices or that our choices are leading us in the direction of our dreams and ambitions. Those dreams, those ambitions may be for wealth, health, happy-healthy kids, a booming business or just to find love.
Scratch past the surface of all those things and what you'll find is a desire for happiness.
The best part is, happiness is contagious. If you want a life that beams and lives beyond the scope of the minutes you're here for, try being a happy person. Inevitably you'll find that people will find their way to you. With those people you'll see opportunities. Those opportunities will beget more opportunities which will beget more happiness.
When we consider that happiness can be such a driving force, why do we find ourselves so caught up in the malaise of life?
As we begin to change and grow why do we allow the impact of others to be such a driving force to our mood or actions?
I think, overwhelmingly, the answer to this lies in the social nature of our being. By default, humans are social creatures. The care, concern and opinion of our social network lays heavily in the groundwork of our daily disposition. This social nature is also why love is one of the most sought-after experiences as well as one of the most painful experiences of our lifetimes.
Basically, it all boils down to a simple fact; while unavoidable, it is agonizingly difficult to deal with negative people. Friends, family and people who tear you down with cynicism, apprehension, and over-all cynicism.
Let’s say you want to go back to school or learn how to rock climb but you’re constantly told "it’s too dangerous". Or being constantly told your dreams are too big, "more people fail than succeed".
Continuous exposure to negativity will eventually cut you so deep that you begin to distrust yourself. You’ll notice the feelings of anxiety, distrust and apathy creeping in. Worse yet, since the negativity often comes from those closest to you, you will find yourself becoming cutting and mean to them.
You’ve got one life to live. There is a reason you are here, on this earth, at this moment in time. That reason is bigger than you could ever imagine. Your impact will go well beyond your years.
So, what do we do? How can we move past the barrage of negativity?
The circle of control
First off remember that there are things in your control and things that are not. Sounds easy right? Nothing could be more important than this.
Whether worrying about events not going as planned or feeling overwhelmed about someone else’s reaction to you or perception of you, when you worry about things you cannot control, you expend energy needlessly. Realistically, this will also result in becoming more negative yourself. That in turn will halt your progress in life and make accomplishing your goals difficult if not impossible.
Sadly, in the wrong mental state or reactionary state, even if you do achieve your goals the victory will be greatly lessened by the experience. Instead of prodding you on to bigger and better, you may find yourself stymied. Not everything in life will work out the way we want. Not everyone will be your cheerleader. Focus on the controllable. You cannot control other’s reactions, only your own. You cannot control other’s actions upon you, only your own. Own you and you will own the day.
How am I reacting to this situation?
How can I make this positive?
Remember: You are here now
One of the best things you can do is to bring yourself back to the now. Typically, negatives are coming from a place of remember when or what if. When you focus on what's happening now you simply have one moment to deal with, the next breath, the next choice.
One of my current actions is choosing to stay in the moment and focus on how I could make the best of the tasks at hand. Doing so allows me to transcend above the momentary affliction. When I do I am no longer called back to who I was, mistakes I’ve made or getting caught up in everything that could go wrong. Further I find a sense of calm and peace overtakes me and that allows a persistent optimism to pervade.
When faced with negativity recognize how your body feels
Simply and quietly breathe and tell yourself, I am here now
Finding a place of gratefulness in moments of negativity is not easy, but it's a great way to make even the most exhausting interaction more positive. Example, if you find yourself being hit with negativity from someone who isn’t always like that, recall moments when the person was positive and be grateful for those. If you’re dealing with someone who’s always negative, you can be grateful for the opportunity to grow.
And truly, try to remember that a ship that never leaves the port never sees waves. If you weren’t following your heart, trying to live a better life and become more authentic, you would never face negativity. In doing so, you are upsetting the status quo, and people don’t like that.
When was this person positive and supportive to me
What am I learning right now
Remember: It’s not about you
For real though. It’s not about you. It’s never about you. We all come at life from our own perspective. That perspective colors everything we see in a shade of us. Regardless of the negativity being spewed at you, it’s not about you. Maybe this person has had a really bad day or month, or life and is dealing with a lot of stress. It is impossible to understand or know what’s going on inside someone else’s head. You have no idea where they are at, and in the same vein, they have no idea where you are at. Be the bigger person, recognize that fact and allow them some space.
It’s not about me right now
I am positive and moving in the direction of my dreams and that is really all that matters
As difficult as it can be to hold strong in the face of adversity and negativity, it is possible and it is worth it. You’ve got one life and then it’s gone. There are no second chances to get it right. With that in mind, chose to be positive, be happy and get it done. The legacy you leave will be well worth the challenge. As challenging as it can be to stay positive around negativity, with the right mental tools in place, it is possible.