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One Person Sees Positive, Can You?

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As winter 2023 turned into spring 2024, we reflected on a year like most others, which had its share of good and bad. What will our focus be? Being a realist, I aim to concentrate on the positive events that occurred and not dwell on the extreme and less extreme negative events that have shaped our lives. For those dealing with mental health issues, this can be challenging, but we all need something to strive for in life. Yes, I know it’s not always easy, but I do what I can to maintain a positive outlook most of the time.

Of course, I am just one person writing from Long Island in the state of New York, one of the fifty states in the United States of America, which is part of North America, and so on. One gets the picture. Each person sees and observes what they want in their own style. “Different strokes for different folks,” as stated originally by boxer and humanitarian Muhammad Ali. The phrase relates well to employment, as demonstrated by Richard Nelson Boiles in his series of books, What Color Is Your Parachute?

Consider this: there is an individual with a job who makes decent money, has a spouse, two kids, and lives in a good community. When someone is optimistic, does that mean they are happy and see life positively? Or is it the reverse for us? When we are positive, are we also encouraged to do more? Either way, seeing the positives can lead to a long, prosperous life – whatever that means for each of us. Successfully maintaining positivity over long periods makes it easier to be optimistic and happy.

Positive thinking can be fostered by eliminating most negative self-talk and reducing stress. It also helps with stress management and improves both our physical and mental health. We all need to overcome and eradicate negativity and adopt a better frame of reference. Some studies show that personality traits can affect many areas of our health and well-being. Positive thinking, which often comes with optimism, is a key way to manage stress effectively. Conversely, when we are more pessimistic, we don’t just give up; we can learn positive thinking skills. This may bring more happiness to all individuals.

Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through our brains. This does not mean we ignore life’s stressful situations. These automatic thoughts can be both positive and negative. Self-talk is also a mental preparation strategy in which individuals talk to themselves to enhance self-confidence and convince themselves that they can succeed. Some of our self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other times, it may arise from misconceptions created by a lack of credible information or preconceived ideas about what may or may not happen. Stressing at this point only exacerbates the scenarios.

What is happiness? Its definition varies widely. Each of us has our own unique interpretation. Many singers have mused about what happiness is, while others have used this concept as a springboard for a quotation or to be a positive influence. Aristotle stated, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Anyone can interpret this as they wish, but I hope it helps us all to be positive. Recently on the TV show “The Price Is Right,” a contestant exclaimed that “Happiness is winning this brand new car.” Most people, including myself, would be happy to win a car worth $123,950.

Before the year ends, many people make resolutions. Have you kept yours? Personally, I don’t make any. Take it from me, or maybe not. It is better to strive for overall self-improvement and for the betterment of humankind. Just remember, in December, many sing about “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.” If you don’t remember, shame on you. Only kidding. Forge ahead and try to remain positive every day, every week, every month, and every year, not just during a specific holiday.

If every individual cares a little more about others, peace and goodwill can be achieved. Bing Crosby and David Bowie exemplified this when they performed an updated version of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” in 1977 on Crosby’s holiday television programme. Yes, I realise that I am being extremely optimistic, but a positive attitude about life on Earth is worth maintaining. Slow down and let that optimism spread; it might be contagious. We can’t have that spreading across the entire world, can we? This is a more “realist” way of thinking.

There are many techniques, articles, and books on positive thinking. One of the most successful and popular books is “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. It provides anecdotal case histories of positive thoughts and practical instructions designed to help the reader achieve a permanent and optimistic outlook.

Seriously, it does start with just one person. Possibly, peace and goodwill are just fleeting thoughts, but they are good ones. Smile, it’s OKAY to be this way. Maybe each of us can try this on one another. Tell them to spread these words. Try it out and see what happens.

Howard Diamond is a New York state-certified peer specialist from Long Island.

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