A shift towards the positive

Photo by: Lorri Steer

If you read my bio, you might have noticed I’m working toward a wellness coach certification from Wellcoaches. If you’ve heard of a life coach, or a corporate coach, you’ve got an idea of what a wellness coach does. I hope to help clients improve their wellness by empowering them to make positive changes in their lives, through health and fitness.

I’ve been studying for the written exam, and a philosophy called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) really struck me. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but as I sit at home, coughing and blowing my nose, feeling sorry for myself about still being sick, I read this:

“Conversations and interactions become positive the instant we ask a positive question, tell a positive story, or share a positive reflection.”

and this:

“By shifting our conversations and interactions in a positive direction, we simultaneously create a positive present. These positive conversations create the worlds in which we live and work.”

If positive conversations create the worlds in which we live and work, then it stands to reason negative conversations have the same impact. Even the conversations we have with ourselves. Yeah, so I sit at home and talk to myself. What of it?

I’m not sure how much men do this in social settings, but as women, we certainly know how to rile up a good bitch-fest. We complain about our husbands, our hair, our bodies, our lack of time and numerous other problems. Sure, it feels good to vent some of that stuff in the safe environment of women who understand. But think back on some of your recent conversations: does the negative stand out more than the positive? Upon reflection, I’m shocked to see that I’ve spent rare and valuable time with close friends, complaining. And complaining breeds more complaining, discontent and an overall bad attitude that can be hard to shake.

Certainly we do this type of griping at work too. We complain about bosses, co-workers, deadlines and the snotty tone of so and so’s e-mail. How much time are you wasting at work being miserable? I’ll admit to doing this in the past, and I’ll also say, that when I made a conscious effort to change my attitude, I felt much happier, and yes, my co-workers noticed too.

I’m not saying life is always sunshine and roses. Bad stuff happens, and it’s not always easy to find the bright side of terrible situations. I would never suggest just “trying to be more positive” if you’ve lost a job, your health or a friend or family member. Those are different situations, with much different rules. I’m referring to the common, every-day complaining that just slips out, unnoticed. If you’re used to doing a fair amount of low-level complaining, it can be difficult to interrupt that pattern. You might not realize you are doing it, or that others are subjecting you to it. But it surely has an impact on your energy and mood.

Using the AI principal quoted above, we can be a powerful force of either negative or positive energy in our own life, and the lives of those we interact with. Drama and dissatisfaction are not attractive qualities, and generally don’t draw the right kind of people towards you. So why not be a positive force? You’ll feel better, and others will feel better having spent time with you.

For example, I’m going to focus on the awesome, funny, sweet boys from the photo above, instead of the crabby, emotional, bed-wetting kids I sent off to school this morning. There, I feel better already!


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