Company Loves Misery: The Importance of Positive Thinking

By Kevin Kilgarriff

Another one in the books!  The 2013 Holiday Season is drawing to a close.  Soon the presents will be put away.  No more “very special episodes” of your favorite TV shows.  And within six months or so the all of the decorations will finally be down.


Well it takes a while to clean up when Christmas throws up on your house.

Soon magical feeling that you get this time of year will probably be replaced by stress, anxiety, and staring in the mirror at your gut and wondering what the hell happened to the “mid-year” you that was well on its way to meeting the 2013 goal of getting in shape.

It’s time to start writing out those New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s time to look at that list and think, “Hmmm….this looks familiar.”  And it’s time to sit and wonder how long it’ll be until we break those resolutions.

There’s one resolution, though, that we should try our best to hold onto for as long as possible.  It’s a resolution that would the basis for making all other resolutions easier to keep.  It should be your number one resolution every year – Stay Positive!

Positive thoughts are a huge reason for success in any life.  Ask any person you consider to be successful for advice and I guarantee you that one of the phrases they spout out at you is “Stay Positive”.

Why then, is it so easy for us to be negative?!

On Christmas night I sat around the table with family sharing stories and some laughs.  And as I drove home that night, I looked back and realized that about 75% of those stories were about terribly, horrible things that happened to people we knew.   Stories of people dying, going into comas, losing limbs.  Extreme stuff!   We all had terrible stories to share about people.  Myself included!

I also noticed that some, but not all, of these stories did have silver linings.  Some of the people involved in these stories did have amazing outlooks on life and didn’t see their situation as a negative.  But instead they viewed it as just another hurdle in life, which is amazing way to go through life!  And an amazing way to pass on a positive to other people.

But, why do we talk about these things?  Why take one of the most joyous occasions of the year and bring it down with talk about people who have it worse than we do?

Oh!  Did just hit the nail on the head?  Yes, I think I did.  I think that we generally like to remind ourselves that we could have it a lot worse.  And in doing so we appreciate what we do have.

Silver Linings

But that’s where we’re wrong.  It might remind us of how good we have it.  But it’s best to really focus on the positives of those situations.   Talk about the person in the wheelchair that doesn’t let it keep him from seeing people who live in second floor apartments.  Or about the one that can still hit homeruns and triples playing softball with one arm.   Or THIS GUY, who was shot by robbers and survived an 18 hour surgery because of his positive outlook.  And to some extent on Christmas night, we were doing it right.  Because for all we know, we could find ourselves the main character of a similar story that someone else is telling next Christmas.

If that happens, do you want it to be a positive story or a negative story?  Do you want a group of people to sit around a table and talk about what a bad turn of events you experienced?  Or do you want them to use you as a beacon of light and marvel and how well you’re handling what most people would view as a terrible situation?

There’s even science behind it!  Listen to Dan Gilbert talk about why Positive Thinking is the Secret to Happiness.

We have absolutely no idea what the next day, or even the next second, will bring.  Staying positive now will help us to be positive about anything that we’re faced with in the future.  There’s always a silver lining.  And if you can’t find it, keep looking!  It will make itself clear when you’re ready.

Pat Riley once said, “If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.”

And if you don’t know who Pat Riley is, well all he did was use that very attitude to coach five teamsto NBA Championships.

And we’ve heard everyone from Bing Crosby to Paul McCartney sing about Accentuating the Positive, and Eliminating the Negative.  But if Aretha Franklin sings about it, then there mustsomething to it!

Have you ever heard anyway achieve great things in life by Negative Thinking?  NO!  Positive thinking!  Positive topics!  Positive spins on what would otherwise be viewed as a terrible situation!  THAT is the way to have positive outcomes on the things you encounter in life.  Practice it!

The next time you get together with friends or family, remember this.  Remember to accentuate the positive.  Remember to eliminate the negative.  Don’t sit around all night talking about how bad other people have it in life just to remind yourself of how good you have.  Talk about how great people are at having a positive outlook on life and remind yourself that you should be doing the same.  Misery loves company.  But company doesn’t need to love misery.


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