Back in the early ‘90s, I worked the overnight shift for a time at a major NYC law firm. I was one of the few heading home to New Jersey as everyone else was on their way into the office. I still remember an incident when a burly man in a gray pinstripe suit missed his train by seconds. He got there just as the doors were closing – no doubt a very frustrating experience. But his reaction was seismic. He pounded the doors with his fists, cursed loud enough for me to hear him across the tracks, and his face turned so red it looked as if his head might literally pop off. Maybe he’d missed an important meeting, or perhaps this was just his regular way of handing irritations. Regardless, it was probably unhealthy for him.
A few years later, after I’d relocated to Phoenix, I was working with a client who was in a time crunch and urged me to get what she needed ASAP. I was talking with a third party who had a document the client needed and told her we were in a rush to receive it. That woman, whoever she was and wherever she might be today, changed my life forever when she said to me, very calmly: “Just because it’s your emergency does not make it my emergency.”
I have remembered that phrase and called on it many times over the years. I remember it when I’m running late myself – like the pinstriped gentleman above. It’s nor fair or productive for me to honk and rush the other drivers around me because I am running late. I also remind myself of this phrase when I see other people trying to make me hurry (or behave other than normal) because they are in a pickle. I tend to be a generous, compassionate person, so of course I’ll help someone who is in obvious distress or need. I’m talking about people who are just self-absorbed and unaware of how their actions are affecting those around them.
What does all of this have to do with positivity and health? Health comes out of positive behaviors. The pinstripe man had a choice about how he reacted to missing the train, just as the woman on the phone did when I tried to make her responsible for my client’s emergency. If we can plan ahead to have positive responses to stressful situations, we will save ourselves a lot of grief, unpleasantness, and potentially illness-causing reactions. Unmitigated, stress is a killer.
Beyond warding off stress, a positive outlook can offer:
- Lower rates of depression
- Greater resistance to illness
- Better mental health
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Stronger coping skills
- A longer life
If having a more positive view of the world could improve your health, wouldn’t it be worth it? The problem is that it’s not something you can just wave a wand to achieve, particularly if you are one of the nearly 50 percent of people who do not naturally tend to an optimistic outlook. One way to increase your positivity – and improve your health – would be to take part in the 30-Day Positivity Challenge. This is a 30-day series of exercises that gives participants a variety of assignments conducive to feeling better, overall. According to inspirational speaker Abraham Hicks, “Few realize that they can control the way they feel and positively affect the things that come into their life experience by deliberately directing their thoughts.” Abraham Hicks says we accomplish this by simply “reach[ing] for a better feeling thought.”
The choice is yours: Will you opt for positivity?