One of the reasons I love my job so much is that I get to work with amazing, unique individuals who are all very eager to grow and develop. Some come to me looking for insights around happiness, others to build their confidence and others to actually find clarity on what they want. Whatever the challenge they have, they all have one thing in common. They have a positive attitude towards their challenge. They come to me because they want to resolve their challenge and they are committed to putting the work in to make it happen. Those are two key ingredients of happiness and success: attitude and commitment.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been to a few different events and met many new people. Somehow it still surprises me (and makes me feel a little bit sad) when I meet people who seem to be obsessively focused on the negative. They talk about all their problems, they complain about things, they put blame on others for their misfortunes and they look for things that are wrong – even in the good things! Worst of all, when I try to help them or give them some tips they reject them and make some new excuses. Basically, they have a bit of an attitude problem and they simply want everything in their life to be amazeballs without putting any work into it.
Well here’s a reality check: There is no magic pill that will solve all your problems. Sorry to disappoint. But the good news is that there is something that can help you solve your problems: your attitude.
The way I see it, you can choose your attitude when you’re faced with a problem. In fact, I think it comes down to three simple choices – and yes I definitely have a strong preference for options two and three.
1. You complain about the problem you have.
You tell your friends all about it. You feel frustrated. You want them to join in on the frustration. Together you moan about the problem you’re faced with.
I get it. Problems suck. They make your life harder. But that’s not a good enough reason for you to simply complain about it. That’s taking the easy way out. Imagine if everyone who had a problem would complain about it? The world would be a pretty negative place! That’s why I’m asking you to re-think this.
Sure, if you feel like you need to get a bit of a vent or rant out, do it. But give yourself a time limit for doing it. And once you’ve done it, be done with it. Finito. No more complaining. Why? Because complaining sends you into a negative spiral that will make you feel even more frustrated and helpless. Then it will be even more difficult to see the problem in a more positive light or try to find a solution for it. Then the risk is that you get stuck into a deep, dark hole of complaints that you can’t seem to climb out of. This is even more powerful if you bring others into it as then you will be sending them down into a negative spiral too – and together you’ll be keeping each other down.
So what should you actually do? Once you’re finished with your ‘complaining rant’, – or have made the choice not to complain at all – try and solve the problem.
2. You try to resolve the problem – or challenge – you have.
Depending on the challenge you’ve got, you can try to solve it – or at least do something to make it easier to handle. When you commit to doing something about it, you will feel more empowered and positive right away because you are taking control of the challenge rather than letting it control you. You will see this challenge as an opportunity for you to think creatively. You will see it as something you can learn and grow from.
Maybe you can even ask your friends for help. So rather than complaining to them about your problem, you can say: “I’ve got this challenge on my plate and I’m not quite sure how to solve it. I’m committed to overcoming it though so have you got any ideas on what I could do?” That way you’ll bond with your friends through positivity and not negativity – which will send all of you into a more driven, empowered state of mind.
See what else I did there? I changed the word problem to challenge. Simply positioning what you’re faced with in a new light can help you think more creatively around it. It will instantly give you more perspective and open up your mind to potential solutions.
Now what if you can’t actually resolve the problem, or tried but it didn’t work? What do you do then? This is where your attitude has an even more powerful role to play.
3. If you can’t change the situation, change your attitude.
This is really important. If you revert back to helpless complaining even after you tried resolving it, you will fall back into frustration. Don’t do it. Instead, look at it from a new light. How can you see this challenge in a more positive light? What about the situation is actually good? What are the positives about what you’re dealing with?
Regardless of the challenge, I believe you can find positives in it. Can’t find your favourite cookies in the shop? This is a good opportunity to try a healthier snack option, or actually see how you feel if you don’t have any cookies. Frustrated that you can’t find a good partner? Spend some time on yourself and do all the things you wouldn’t be able to do with a partner.
Fed up of your stressful job but still don’t want to leave it? Remind yourself why you took it in the first place and what you love about it the most. Lost someone you love? This is a great opportunity to reminisce about the amazing times you had with them and appreciate all of your other loved ones even more. (My earlier post on How Suffering Can Lead to Positive Change talks exactly about that – how losing someone I loved made me change my perspective on life.)
I truly believe that if you change your attitude you can change your life. We are all constantly faced with all kinds of challenges, both big and small. That’s a fact of life. We can’t run away from that even if we tried. But by changing our attitude we can approach them from a more empowering angle and as a result continue to feel happy with ourselves and our lives even when faced with them.
Now I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you remember a particular challenge you were faced with that was really hard? How did you resolve it – or change your attitude about it? Please share your stories in the comments below.
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With that I wish you good luck in your adventures & until next time!
P.S. Due to popular demand I have agreed to be a keynote speaker at a happiness event in London in May. If you’re curious about my book Screw Finding Your Passion, this one is for you! You can buy your ticket here.