A Slingshot, Some Coffee, and a Junk-Punching Demon

by Elizabeth on January 2, 2012

positive mental attitude

Make fun of the Sunny Side all you want.

All it takes is a few minutes of listening on a Monday morning at the office to find out what kind of negative connotations we put on positivity.  The morning people (who are usually morning people both by biology and choice, by the way) are quietly snarled at, and the folks who really just wish Mondays would be governmentally banned are off by the coffee machine, putting in the intravenous driplines, grumbling and wondering what fresh hell this week’s going to bring them.

If any of the coffee-swilling zombie set are questioned about this particular attitude of doom, there’s either a lot of backpedalling or an assertation that they’re not being negative, they’re being realistic, as if reality is somehow full of Doom Demons just lurking behind the computer monitor, waiting to attack them with giant rain clouds and missed deadlines.  And possibly to punch them in the junk.

Here’s the deal, though:  Reality just IS.

It’s not negative.  It’s not positive.  It merely is.

It’s how we look at it that makes things positive or negative.

And I’m fairly sure that there aren’t any junk-punching demons behind the monitor, even on Monday mornings.

The difference is huge, but the shift is subtle and ongoing, and is by choice.

If you ever went to sunday school as a kid, you know the story of David and Goliath.  Great big giant hulk of a man, terrorizing a village.  Little tiny man with a slingshot and a can-do attitude.  (While the rest of the terrified villagers were all “OMG he’s WAY to big to hit!”, David rolled his eyes and told them that the dude was way too big NOT to hit.  Like, duh.  Broad side of a barn, there.)

And with his little peashooter slingshot of doom, David went all gladiator and took him down, saving his village.  (I’m simplifying.  Don’t send me hate mail.)

Every Monday morning, we’re all villagers, folks.  We just have to decide:  are we going to man up and strap on the peashooters with an attitude that gets us from point A to point B, or are we going to cower around the coffeepeddlers and hope like hell that someone else brought the rocks?

This week, I’m making a very conscious choice to invest in my own (mental) slingshot.

Every rock I put in that thing is going to have a giant smileyface painted on it, too.

See, there’s this whole branch of psychology, first summed up in 1998 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  (type that five times fast…), called, aptly, positive psychology.  (You can find more about it on wikipedia.  I’ll link it at the end.)  The gist of it is that instead of just treating disorder, it nurtures ways to make normal life more fulfilling.

In other words, it’s all about finding the science behind what makes some people awesome and satisfied and happy, versus being miserable, cranky bastards.  It’s actually pretty complex, with three different levels of the Happy — the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life.  And in all three, attitude plays a stupefyingly large role.  The more positive you can train your thinking to be, the better you are at solving problems (looking for solutions rather than just bitching about the computer demons, for instance), and the more likely you are to focus on what you CAN do, versus what you CAN’T.

It’s like suddenly having the world be limitless.

It’s not just about being perky and happy, by the way.

Scientists who are way smarter than me have linked a positive mental attitude with some crazy findings.  Things like being physically healthier, achieving more goals faster than similarly-situation-ed pessimists, and being surrounded with more friendships.

Positive people tend to attract other positive people.  Which, as you can imagine, breeds more positivity.  (Ironically, often, negative people are also attracted to the relentlessly positive, too, who are often too nice to tell them to put up or shut up.)

It all starts with an attitude.  And attitude’s a choice.

Yeah, you can’t help what happens to you.  Into every life some rain must fall, blah blah blah.  But like I said above:  reality is.  What we do with that reality, how we see that reality — that’s up to us.  Every minute of every day, we make that choice  or we let other people make it for us.

So tell me:  Do you want to make your own choices?

Watch how you’re talking to yourself.  Watch how you’re talking to other people.  Observe your own attitude and your own reactions.

And then work to remember that all of those things are entirely in your control.  Find the positive in every situation, even when it’s hard, or when people are banging on your hot buttons like they’re mashing a game controller.

If you know you’re limitless and that life is a deep reservoir of experiences, then Monday morning’s going to have to take a number if it’s trying to get all Goliath on your mental village.  You’ve got a slingshot that shoots lasers.

Go, you.

Check out the stuff about positive psychology on Wikipedia, here.  And feel free to hop on over to the forums to tell us how you stay positive, even when Monday seems like it’s out to get you.

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne January 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Exquisite way to start 2012 despite all the Mayan hype about end of days. Every end has a new beginning and your commitment allows for wings to be spread but clear view of a destination takes the airy faery out of the equation. Bravo. Keep soaring.

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Miss Charlotte January 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm

It’s amazing how much one can be their own Goliath instead of David, yes? *grabs her laser beam sling shot and heads out the door*

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loulou January 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I think you might find “The Brain-That-Changes-Itself” by Norman Doidge interesting. The science behind actually changing your brain’s *structure*! Crazy.
link: http://amzn.to/tz3PxE

Here’s more about the author (you’ll notice why.. well, you’ll notice something.):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Doidge

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