Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping a Positive Attitude in Tough Times

Times are tough, and 2009 appaers to be tougher, huh?. We are constantly being bombarded with negative thoughts. There is a financial crisis that is being compared to The Great Depression. The value of investments has dropped precipitously. It is an election year that seems to bring out the worst in candidates and is filled with mud slinging and negative campaigning. There are threats to our security throughout the world.
With all of this going on around us, how do we maintain a positive attitude that is so important to long term success? There are several principles that help guide us through the day-to-day difficulties that we face and to maintain a positive outlook.
First, the only way to navigate through the obstacles and bumps in the road that we face, is to have a long term vision of what we want to accomplish and a good plan on how we are going to get there. Henry Ford said “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”. Setting and achieving daily goals is essential to building confidence and having a positive outlook towards the future.
Second, expose yourself to positive thoughts every day. Positive thoughts create energy while negative thoughts destroy energy. Read inspirational stories. Tune out the negative news and listen to the positive. Utilize affirmations. Make a list of everything that you are thankful for and read it regularly.
We have a choice of how we focus our energy. We can focus on the past, the present, or the future. While we can always learn from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistake in the future, dwelling on the past is unproductive. Second guessing past decisions doesn’t change the outcome. We all go through life making mistakes that we wish we had not made. There is no value in continually playing the “should have” or “could have” game.
While spending an inordinate amount of time and energy replaying the past is unproductive, so is spending too much time worrying about the future. Sure, it is important to set goals and have an idea of the direction that you want to go. But ,in the scheme of things, we actually have very little control over the future.
The most productive time is spent living in the present. In reality, the only thing we really can control is what we are doing right now. I have always said that time management really comes down to making moment by moment decisions about what we are doing. A positive outlook comes from having the confidence that we are doing the best we can right now given the circumstances that we are in and moving forward.
Finally, to keep today’s events in perspective, some headlines from Time magazine in the 1970’s can be of help.
- War on Terror (referring to bombing on Pan Am plane)- Mid-east Violence- Social Security- Weak U.S. Dollar- Stagnant Stock Market- Personal Debt- Federal Deficit- Corporate Fraud- Housing Bubble- Gas Prices
There is some comfort to know that we have been through similar challenges in the past and we’ll get through the current ones as well. Think positive and look for opportunities for even in the forsaken lonely hot desert, there is an Oasis.

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