I find it helpful for me to pick a theme for phases of my life. This theme forces me to focus on modification of one important negative behavior that I feel is detrimental to my well-being and overall happiness. For the last year or so, my theme was “Fewer and Deeper.” I was trying to do too much. I needed to trim back my life in order to focus on the people and things that matter most, focusing on fewerinvolvements but deeper meaning.
Now, I am going to focus on “Reacting to Negativity Positively.”
As an American, a business owner, father of a child with an incurable disease, and man trying to rebuild a marriage that was lost but that only God could resurrect, negativity hovers over me often. I’ve made enemies, sometimes deserved and others undeserved. No secret is our nation’s economic troubles; the climate for small business owners is beyond difficult to navigate. Regardless of the state of the economy, running a company can test your resilience and ability to deal with very difficult situations. They are tough shoes to stand in as you hold the financial fate of people and their families in your hands. Truly negative are the days when terminations are required.
Thick skin is not my thing. I am emotional and reactive. I believe in leading with vulnerability and humility. I hire people not employees. I live as a servant first to those around me. I don’t shy away from tough but necessary situations, but it takes a lot out of me. With this unpredictable negativity that occurs, I must strive to react with a positive attitude when facing it.
From all negative comes something positive, from death – life, in pain we grow, and in loss comes gain.
So what does this practically mean for my life?
As a North Carolina Tar Heels basketball diehard, I don’t watch Duke basketball games anymore. I realized that I only feel anger when I watch Duke. That anger doesn’t hurt Duke or their chances of winning. It only hurts me. Why do I want to subject myself to this negativity that I know I can’t react positively to?
Traffic makes me act like an idiot. Obviously, sometimes traffic is unavoidable. However, I’ve realized that there are moments in my life when I can avoid traffic. So I do.
Also, it has become clear to me that when someone cuts me off or does something crazy while driving, I get angry for one reason – They think that they are better than me or that their time is more important than mine. In all, I’ve probably lost about 3 minutes of my life taken from me by idiots who drive recklessly around me. If I could get back all the time that I’ve spent angry about losing those 3 minutes, I could have read at least 50 books that I’ve been wanting to read or watched 2000 movies I’ve been dying to see or taken my daughter to the beach 10 times.
I don’t understand why we do things that we hate, why we put ourselves in situations that we know will make us angry, why we hang around with people that do anything but make us happy, or pursue hate rather than joy. However, there is a better way and that is to pursue positive things, situations and people and when we encounter negativity to do our best to react positively. At least that is my focus for the next phase of my life.