By Sondra Whitt
In a workshop I facilitated recently, one participant was struggling to keep a positive attitude at work while she was surrounded by overwhelming negativity. While there were several helpful suggestions offered by different participants, she finally came to the conclusion that her best solution was to deliberately practice positive self-talk. She realized that she had no control over the situation — only over herself, her attitude and perspective. If she could change the way she saw the people and situation, she could change her attitude, outlook, be less stressed, happier and more productive.
She concluded that she needed to talk to herself as she drove to work in the morning and every time she was faced with negativity from her co-workers or manager. She decided to come up with positive affirmations about her work situation and also to think about the things for which she could be grateful. All too often it’s easy to see the negative in situations or people. The following is a short parable, sent to me by a subscriber that illustrates the importance of perspective.
One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”
Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have. Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!
“Keep a grateful journal,” suggests Oprah Winfrey. “Every night, list five things that happened this day that you are grateful for. What it will begin to do is change your perspective of your day and your life. If you can learn to focus on what you have, you will always see that the universe is abundant; you will have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.”
Originally published October 4, 2006.