STONE: Make positivity a priority

Negativity is all around us. It finds its way into our work, homes, schools, and even places of worship. Negativity is an emotional drain on everyone, yet it seems certain people tend to thrive on it. You know, the ones who seem to be happy being unhappy.

Being around such folks is enough to make you want to pull your hair out. It can easily get to the point of overwhelming our lives, impacting productivity, relationships, and our overall health. Taking time away from your day to deal with such emotional baggage, often segues into feelings of remorse from missing time that could’ve been spent doing something actually worthwhile. Ultimately, the guilt and disappointment of not being able to recapture lost time, adds even more to our frustrations. Over time, we allow this negativity to consume us to point our own health takes a beating.

Unfortunately, persistent stress can lead to a number of health problems, both physically and mentally, including but certainly not limited to: cardiovascular disease, frequent headaches, declining sexual health, muscle aches, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. Dealing with the stress may also result in making poor decisions, further complicating your overall health by way of “self medicating” in the forms of tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, or binge eating. Although a certain amount of stress is unavoidable and cannot be completely eliminated, I can almost bet the stress generated by the negativity in your life can be controlled.

An initial step is to inventory the things occupying your time and adjust them accordingly. Aside from the family and job, what are you spending time doing? Are these things productive and do they serve any benefit? Chances are you’ll be surprised how much time in your day, week, or month is occupied doing things holding little to no value to you and those that mean the most. Think about it, how often are you surfing Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter in keeping with the latest gossip or perhaps even gossiping yourself? Are you among those baited into meaningless political debates, snooping on “friends” whose relationships have failed, or bashing others whose lives are in turmoil? The time you’re spending on this…for lack of a better word…crap, is time that only fuels the negative fires within you, so why continue? These items alone are likely to carve out at least an hour out of your day to spend on more productive ventures in life. Time is not a limitless commodity; recognize what is most important to you and use it wisely on things yielding a positive return to you and your family.

Next, isolate yourself…as much as you can…from these negative influences in your life. We all have them, but often struggle on effectively avoiding them. Think of that “friend” who loves to gossip, spending an inordinate amount of time finding fault in everything, and thrives on the failure of others. Take this moment, going forward, to spend as little time with these types of “friends” as possible. Even better, get rid of them. They serve nothing more than an energy drain and only feed the stress in your life. Start by taking less of their calls and declining invites to lunch or any other functions with them. Over time, they’ll either change or take the hint.

Inversely, are you yourself being negative? If so, stop. We all fall prey to being negative at some point in our day, but we can work on ways to fix that. It’s as easy as taking an inventory of our words, our actions, and our intentions. Before making a statement or responding to others, ponder if that you are about to say is going to be positive or meaningful to those around you. If not, don’t say and replace it with something that is. The same can be said about our actions in making sure what we do unto is constructive, not destructive. Additionally, reflect on what your intentions are motivated by. Are they for good or malevolent intent? Choose wisely, as decisions often find a way back to us at some point.

Just as importantly, make time for you. Allowing an uninterrupted 5 to 30 minutes a day may be all it takes to recharge your batteries, regain focus, and remind yourself of the positive things around you. Reflecting in prayer, taking a walk, or even stepping outside for a breath of air can mean a world of difference. Bottom line, take every opportunity to take care of yourself to remain positive and kick negativity to the curb. You and those around you will be better because of it.