Many of us haven't
taken the time to consider what our own life philosophy
is. If you haven't, it doesn't mean you don't have
one. You're just operating from it unconsciously.
By life philosophy, I mean, in simple terms, something
like: I know I'm here to live up to my potential,
make a contribution to society, and have a good time.
Someone else might say: I'm here to serve God through
being of service to my fellow human beings. Another
philosophy might be: I'm here to show others that
despite physical handicaps, you can lead a productive
life and enjoy what you have.
Your personal philosophy can contain
a vision such as: I'm here to save the planet from
environmental destruction. Or, I'm a valuable member
of a company that's improving the way human beings
communicate with one another. Your philosophy acknowledges
who you are and what your purpose is for being alive.
A truly positive philosophy, one that's motivating,
encompasses more than just you. Again, if you haven't
formulated one, your unconscious personal philosophy
might sound something like: "I'm here to make
it through the day, day after day, until I die."
Or, "I'm here to grab as much as I can of material
possessions and thrills, because you only live once."
Having a well-articulated personal philosophy gives
you a sense of purpose and it can help you get through
rough times as well.
The second aspect of positiveness
comes from knowing what strengths you have to build
on to achieve that life philosophy. This involves
taking a personal inventory about your talents and
skills and also what you like to do. Ideally, we'd
all like to make a living or spend our time doing
what we love. The people who come the closest to that
are those who actually take the time to figure out
what they love doing. Then you figure out what skills
you have and which ones you need and take a step closer
to matching your ideal life's work with the reality
of your work life.
Having a positive life philosophy
and knowing what strengths you have to build on will
only get you so far. The third aspect of positiveness
is surrounding yourself with other sources of the
same energy. Occasionally we hear stories of people
who struggle against great odds, prove the naysayers
wrong and achieve the nearly impossible. They turn
around a defunct company, they stop a highway from
going through virgin land, they bring out a new product
line in record time, or they beat the odds on terminal
By definition, they had to have had
a positive philosophy to get them there and they had
to know what they could do themselves and what they
needed to get from others. Those stories rarely mention
the fact that those people always had some other source
of positive energy outside themselves that kept them
going. Most probably it was other people they could
rely on for support. Other people who were also positive
about their ability to succeed. Perhaps they were
also motivated by the example of some historical figure.
Perhaps they drew strength from a spiritual source.
The point is, they didn't do it alone. They needed
to be embedded in some sort of supportive, positive
context that recharged them when their own batteries
were running low.
Ideally, you surround yourself with
the kinds of people who exhibit the positive traits
we're talking about. Avoid the two-dimensional folks
who tend toward the negative traits we discussed earlier
- the ones who see things as either/or, right or wrong,
and don't care to entertain any other thoughts. These
people don't help recharge, they drain you.
Ever since Dr. Peale introduced his
formulation of positive thinking, we've been hearing
the notion of "having a positive attitude"
from every motivational book and speaker you could
name. It's not that we don't need to be reminded once
in a while to get out of a negativity rut. We do.
But the way "positive attitude" is sometimes
presented is like buying a new outfit or getting a
haircut. Just go out and do it. How?
I hope in this brief discussion I've
given you the beginnings of a deeper understanding
of the How. It begins inside you with a positive life
philosophy, a positive sense of who you are and what
you bring to the table of life. And it requires that
you embed yourself in a context of positiveness -
to tap sources beyond yourself. If this trait isn't
already in your repertoire, then begin here. The trait
of positiveness is so attractive, other people will
be drawn to you.