Having a positive attitude is much easier said than done. If we would just tell people to have a positive attitude, they would say things like, “oh, that’s easy for you to say,” or “sure, you don’t have my kids,” or “How am I supposed to have a positive attitude when my husband won’t cooperate?” That’s why we, at Down To Earth, don’t really bother TELLING people to have a positive attitude. Instead, we SHOW them and we TEACH.
First of all, we work very hard to keep a positive attitude ourselves. If we have a positive attitude, our clients can watch how it’s done and copy what we do. Next, when we are consciously working on developing a positive attitude about something, we tell the client what we are doing so they can see that it doesn’t just come naturally, you have to work at it. We can point out when a client is exhibiting a positive attitude and when they are exhibiting a negative attitude so they can be more aware of the attitudes that they are using. Finally, we take a client’s negative attitudes and teach them how to transform those negative attitudes into positive ones.
It makes sense to say that how people think and feel influences how they talk, right? For example, if you hate waiting and you go out to eat with a friend and when you get there, the wait is about an hour, you’re going to say to your friend, “Oh, I hate waiting,” or “Aw, look at the wait,” or “This sucks.” So far it makes sense, right? How we think and feel influences what we say. If we have a negative attitude about something, we are going to say bad things about it. If we have a positive attitude about something, we’re going to speak well of it. Okay then, if you have a negative attitude, then just change it.
Oops, it’s not that easy. Just changing your attitude is almost impossible to do. It is difficult to just start thinking or feeling differently. However, there is something that you do have a great deal of control over, what you say.
At Down To Earth, we have found that as much as your thoughts and feelings influence what you say, what you say can influence how you think and feel. So, you don’t have to change your attitude, you don’t have to try to think differently, you don’t have to try to change your feelings, you simply have to change what you say. That’s still not that easy, but it’s a whole lot easier than trying to change thoughts or feelings.
Let’s go back to our example. You hate waiting. You can’t just automatically change that. You get to the restaurant and you see the hour-long wait and you are about to comment. Stop yourself from saying your thoughts out loud. Decide to say something else instead. Anything. Suppose you decide to say, “This restaurant seems very nice,” or “It smells like they have good food,” or, “I’m looking forward to hearing about your date last week.” If you manage to get anything positive at all out of your mouth, you probably won’t feel any differently, and you’ll actually probably feel somewhat uncomfortable because it wasn’t what you wanted to say. You’ll still be upset that you have to wait.
However, whatever it was that you said is going to influence what your friend says. When you make a positive comment, they’re more likely to make one, too. Perhaps your friend will start telling you all the juicy details of her date and you’ll get so wrapped up in the story that you’ll forget how much waiting bothers you. Then, next time you have a long wait at a restaurant, you might remember that and get your friend to tell you a story again. Keep that up and you’re going to look forward to long waits as an opportunity to hear funny stories. Guess what? Oddly enough, you don’t really hate waiting that much anymore.