Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative

  • Published
  • By Reniese Johnson
  • ARPC Deputy Director of Assignments
I was brought up on a principle my parents instilled in me, namely, "If you can't say something nice about a person, then do not say anything at all." In other words, refrain from negativism.

The advice of my parents is a principle to reduce stress, especially in this changing and fast-paced world -- positivity. I now try to think of it whenever something negative pops into my head, or if I am about to say something that can be interpreted in a negative way. I immediately say, "How can I turn that into a positive situation?"

In building and improving relationships, negativity is your biggest enemy. You do not want it in your mind, house, on the job or in your environment. You do not want to express negativity to your co-workers, employees, supervisors or friends. You do not want anything to do with it. When you see it, turn it around. If you cannot turn it around, then you turn around and walk the other way. Counting to 10 or 20 backwards usually helps me.

The key is to accentuate the positive. When thoughts are guided to focus on the positive and constructive, then the self is nourished and enriched. 

Have you ever watched a monkey when he is eating a banana? Notice that the monkey is smart enough to eat only the nourishing banana and throws away the peel. Yet, we often "chew on the peel" which represents the negative. Negative thoughts and words affect us in the following way:

-- They influence how we think and view the world.
-- They shape the way others see us.
-- They determine how much cooperation and success we have with other people.

Here are some things to help you focus on the positive so that you will think this way, will shape how others see you, and will influence how much cooperation and success you have with other people:

Suzy went to visit her friend who worked at a candy store. She noticed her friend always had customers lined up waiting while the other sales people stood around. Suzy asked her friend for the secret to her popularity. It's easy, her friend said, the other sales people always scoop up more than a pound of candy and then take some out to reach the required weight. I always scoop up less and then add some. People are like magnets; they are drawn to the positive and repel the negative.

The public affairs staff called me to let me know my turn was fast approaching to write another article in the Center Scene. My negative reaction, "What? It can't be my turn already. Why do I have to produce one right after the holidays? I'm sure you must be mistaken, because I know it's someone else's turn." 

How do I turn this into a positive situation next time? Be ready for the call. If you procrastinate like some of us, maybe make a new goal to get that chore done way ahead of schedule. I knew my turn was fast approaching. I watch the slides every week in staff meeting and they prepared me for that call.

Accentuate the positive ... eliminate the negative ... a principle that I will continue to work on as I face each new challenge in an increasingly fast-paced changing world. It truly helps reduce stress.