Inspire Others By Being As Negative As You Want To Be
I keep a daily journal. It’s nothing fancy, just a 70-page wide-ruled notebook where I jot down what’s on my mind.
This week I re-read some of my recent entries and thought, “A lot of the things I’ve written lately are pretty negative. No wonder I’m in a bad mood so much!” Here are a few samples of things I wrote down:
“I can’t go out and see my friends.” I live in a downtown area of a large city, and COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the bar where we would all gather and catch up on the events of our lives.
“My phone battery is wearing out. I can’t take it anywhere anymore without stuffing a bulky portable charger in my pocket.” My three-plus-year-old phone was due for a replacement, but I put off the expense and hassle of transitioning to a new phone for perhaps a bit too long.
“I need to walk to the bank to deposit my paycheck, but it’s pouring down rain.” I had an umbrella but the wind was blowing the rain sideways, so it wouldn’t do much good.
“At the pizza place, I came back from the restroom to find that two women had taken my table. Didn’t they see my drink sitting there? And they were so rude when I asked for my seat back.” I got another table, but I was in a foul mood when my pizza arrived. I was in a foul mood for the rest of the day. as a matter of fact.
“Ugh, there are fruit flies in here. I can’t even take one step away from the burger I brought home for dinner or else they’ll land on it.” Fruit flies are always a problem in my city, but this summer has been the worst ever.
No wonder I had such a dark cloud over my head all the time! I was drowning in my own negative thoughts.
To take my mind off my troubles, I engaged in one of my favorite activities…
I love to get on Amazon and “window shop.” I don’t make a whole lot of impulse purchases, but I love to browse through the categories and discover new things.
Since my journal was the source of my sour mood, I decided to look through the “journals” section of the “books” category. There I discovered a type of daily journal I had never heard of before…
… a gratitude journal.
It was a journal with exercises designed to remind you of all the things you are thankful for every day. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes,
The depth of your abundance depends upon the depth of your gratitude.
I thought about ordering the gratitude journal, but as I said, I try to keep control of my impulse purchases. But then I had another thought…
What if I turned my existing journal into a gratitude journal?
I was reminded of a key concept I read in the Conversations with God series by Neale Donald Walsch.
You draw to you exactly the right people and events, at every point in time, to be able to experience the very things your soul wants to experience.
Looking at it that way, there are no negative experiences! It was all meant to happen. What if I saw the things that happened to me through that lens?
Now, I’m not discounting the negative feelings I had at the time those events occurred. To do so would be to shut parts of myself off. They needed to be expressed. However, what if I recorded the negative feelings in my daily journal, then added
— BUT —
and then listed as many reasons as I could think of why I was grateful for each event that occurred.
Let’s give it a try.
“I can’t go out to the bar and see my friends because it’s been closed for two months”
— BUT —
I’m grateful for all the money I’ve saved in those past two months. I’ve reduced my alcohol consumption by 90%, which has caused me to feel better, sleep better, and lose some weight. I’ve also had more time to work on my writing!
“My phone battery is wearing out. I can’t take it anywhere anymore without stuffing a bulky portable charger in my pocket.”
— That’s true, BUT —
I’m grateful that having to conserve my battery has forced me to learn to not be a slave to my phone. The few times I do use it to get on social media, I do so efficiently. Also, just think how grateful I will be when that new phone finally arrives! Then I will see that the hassle of ordering it and setting it up was worth it.
“I need to walk to the bank to deposit my paycheck, but it’s pouring down rain.”
— All right, BUT —
I’m grateful for the reminder that I can wait until tomorrow or the next day when the sky clears up. There have been times when I needed access to the money immediately, and this is not one of them. Also I’m grateful I can plan my future trip to the bank. There’s a to-go sushi joint on the way back. I can bring home lunch!
“At the pizza place, I came back from the restroom to find that two women had taken my table. Didn’t they see my drink sitting there? And they were so rude when I asked for my seat back.”
— This was a tough one to see any bright side at all. BUT —
Their behavior was a reminder that my mom, who passed away three years ago, taught me to always be considerate of others. I am so grateful for that lesson.
Later on, I realized the pizza parlor incident happened on what would have been her birthday. Did she play a hand in sending me that experience, because she wanted me to remember her on her special day?
“Ugh, there are fruit flies in here.”
— Having to see the bright side of fruit flies? Yeah, that’s a tall order. BUT —
The fruit flies wouldn’t be in my apartment to begin with if I didn’t have food in here. There are many people who don’t have any food in their homes. I’m grateful to have such abundance…
And that gratitude will in turn draw to me more abundance.
The next step
It’s one thing to come back to your negative reactions at a later time, acknowledge them in a written journal, and then see the hidden reason for gratitude in each.
Once you put in enough practice, though, you will begin to notice your negative reactions in real time, when you are still out in the field, while the events are still occurring. When a negative reaction comes up, you will find yourself immediately redirecting to a place of gratitude.
Express that gratitude and, over time, you will become someone who always lightens the mood, who always sees the good, the light, the true meaning, in every experience.
So, go ahead. Be as negative as you want as often as you want.
You can do this because you know you’re going to flip negativity on its head.
At first, you can do this in writing. It may take some thought at first to see the thing(s) to be grateful for when a “negative” person or situation comes your way. Remember, there is always a reason he/she/it did. You’re allowed to have as many negative thoughts/reactions as you want — indulge yourself! — as long as you let them lead you to gratitude.
Pretty soon, you’ll get so good at this exercise that you’ll find gratitude in every situation when you’re out in the real world. As you learn to express this gratitude, people will look to you as someone who sees the good in everything. Therefore, you will become the most uplifting grouch they have ever known. You’ll be the Negative Nancy who inspires.
Give it a try and share your experiences in the comments. If you want to read more stories like this one, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. Thanks for reading!