The Power of Positivity

no complaints

(Another great guest post from Ellen Fussell)

I have a book in my head and it has graph paper in it with diagrams and flowcharts.   It’s where I organise all my useless information.  It is no surprise that I have taken to Pinterest like a fish to water.  Tangentially, I have a board where I pin quotes that appeal to me; maybe because they are often written in pretty writing or have an accompanying picture that appeals to my visual senses?

Two weeks ago, after a particularly trying week with the whole thing of getting the kids settled back in to the new school year, I posted a quote from (I am not sure where it originated).

“Go 24 hours
without complaining.
(Not even once.)
Then watch how
your life starts changing!”

I saw another post-it stuck on the graph paper in my head that summarised an article I had read (unfortunately it wasn’t properly referenced on my post-it). The concept being that everyone complains about how busy and tired they are, all self-inflicted symptoms of our own hectic lifestyle choices.  What was the point of those conversations and whiney social media statuses?  Was it the new baseline: life is shit?

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here.  I can be a world-class grumpy mamma.  Especially when folding washing or trying to get the kids corralled in the morning – nothing sends me more bonkers that getting little boys dressed and out the door in time to catch my train.

But could a simple challenge of reducing how much I complained really make any difference to my sanity?

Each day over the past two weeks I have tried to reduce what I would have previously complained about.  Especially in social media: how easy is it to vent frustrations on Facebook and Twitter?  Or send a quick and grumpy SMS to a friend?  What you don’t think about is how easily that can bring others down.  Instead I have tried to find things that will bring a smile. Not a fake and rosy social media façade – just flipping my perspective.

I have reduced the time I spend online.  I have tried to focus better on having meaningful conversations with people when opportunities have presented.  Not the types of conversation based on mutual lament, which had strangely become as comfortable as commenting on the current weather.  But interesting, different, quality, random conversations with people which I am not sure I would have had was it not for my conscious effort.

And then, out of the blue I was given the best reward: a comment from a friend who had said that my positive attitude was contagious.  What an amazing feeling to know that flipping your perspective could have such an impact.  The irony in all of this is I still haven’t managed 24 hours without complaining once.  I probably haven’t even gone past 3 hours – but I have had some amazingly good, mundane and simple everyday days.  I challenge you to try it out.

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