Recently I’ve had an interesting experience with someone I know. When I first met her, she seemed so happy-go-lucky, good hearted and joyful about life. Recently I’ve spent more time with her and it’s been quite a different experience. Why…. attitude. Some of you might be suffering from this as well.

Negativity. It’s amazing how negativity and bad attitude can really hurt us and keep us from reaching our goals and our full potential. This once joyful woman now constantly complains, no one ever helps me, my parents did more for my brother than they did for me, my parents don’t believe I can finish college, and other similar negative statements.

Now, what I see, a woman who’s parents bought a second home so that she could live rent free with her children while she got back on her feet, a woman who’s parents put her through college right after high school so that she could learn a marketable skill….but didn’t stick with it long… a woman who wants a lot of things done… but doesn’t want to take the responsiblity for doing them. It’s sad when we take for granted the things that truly are gifts to us every day. We start to feel that we are entitled to these things and that we deserve even more. Sometimes we complain that nobody is helping us get back on our feet (without realizing how many people have been trying to push us up while we continue to keep our butts on the floor or worse.. dig deeper holes).

I’ve spent many hours at her home trying to help her learn to break the cycle of CHOAS (see, but she still doesn’t want to do more than the absolute bare minimum (or less). We have our fate and future in our own hands. We have to stand up, shake the dust off ourselves, give ourselves some direction and start moving. I know, this is much harder than it sounds, but many of us sit, waiting and waiting for someone to tell us where to go and how to get there. Most of us don’t have that person to tell us.. and if we did, we would resent them for telling us what to do. It’s up to you. It starts with ending the negativity. Find something positive in your life every day. Stop taking things for granted and tell the people who are helping you how much you appreciate them and what they do. Tell your spouse or significant other that they are important to you. Spend time with your children, even if it’s just cuddling on the sofa under a blanket watching a TV show that they enjoy (you’d be surprised how entertaining the shows are Disney Channel are even for adults if you give it a chance).

You can see the theory of negativity around you even in some of the strangest places. “My name is Earl”. Watch the opening of the first season… the main concept.. I did bad things and bad things happened to me, so if I do good things, good things will happen to me. This concept is true. If you see only the negative things around you, only negative things will happen. If you choose to see the positive things around you, more positive things will happen.

A few weeks ago at my workplace, we were having communication issues that were leading to a lot of bad feelings. Someone left notecards on each desk stating “What I like about you is….” that had a positive message in them. No one will admit to doing it (we’ve asked at each of our staff meetings but no one has confessed), but it was a nice gesture on someone’s part. Even a small gesture can go a long way in letting people know that they are appreciated.

Try an experiment. Nice time you go to the grocery store, smile at everyone that you pass. Now, how many people smile back (it’s a lot). If you get stuck behind someone in an aisle. Don’t fume, smile, wait patiently (Don’t huff “EXCUSE ME”). I’ve on occassion simply turned around and gone around the aisle the other way. You can act angry and feel angry and shopping can be a bad experience or you can walk leisurely, act friendly and shop reasonably stress-free (this works best if you leave small children with a spouse).

Try seeing the positive just once a day. Try smiling at strangers for no reason (OK, not a crazy smile, just a small friendly greeting smile). Tell the well dressed woman in front of you in line that you admire her outfit, speak kindly to the cashier, especially if she seems rushed or rattled). Small gestures are meaningful to the people you share them with. Good things happen to you when you end the negativity, you will be more relaxed, you will be less angry, you will feel more loved. What can it hurt?