Fly the whole mess into the sea?


How important is it to keep a positive perspective?  It’s a popular topic on the self-help and self-development circuit as one of the keys to long-term happiness (or at least contentment).  There have also been a lot of scientific studies – in this article on the benefits of positive thinking from the Mayo Clinic or this one from Health Ambition: The Power of Positivity on your Health, or this one on 12 ways to stay positive… – clearly staying positive is important. A positive outlook will help reduce stress, help you live longer and be healthier overall…all in all not a bad deal!


As a business owner, staying positive is even more important…especially considering the alternative.  You’ve got plenty of things to worry about – starting with finances, people, competition…overall it’s a long list.  Now picture the difference of approaching these issues with a positive perspective and outlook versus a negative outlook?  With a positive approach, anything is possible and problems can be solved.  With a negative approach, everything is an issue and soon it all feels very overwhelming – it would be much easier to throw in the towel if you’re approaching things negatively.


It might sound a little touchy-feely, but I can tell you that it impacts a lot of business owners that I talk to.  The idea is summarized nicely in one of my favorite songs from The Shins – Young Pilgrims:

“But I learned fast how to keep my head up ’cause I
Know there is this side of me that
Wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just
Fly the whole mess into the sea.” – The Shins

I think we all fight our own demons from time to time, but there is a real upside to keeping your head up – when you can open up and look at the possibilities you’ll be surprised at the great ideas and solutions you can come up with.


So positive thinking can impact your results (as I’ve written before)…it’s a wonderful, important thing to do, but what if you’re just not wired that way?  It’s not like you can just flip a switch and start thinking positively.  How you think /  your approach to things is a habit and it will require some changes if you’re going to be able to make being positive stick.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:


Be aware of your thoughts

A good place to start would be to simply start raising your awareness of what your thoughts are…how often are you thinking and talking to yourself in a negative way?  This is especially important because it turns our your brain is physically wired to reinforce whatever you’re thinking on a regular basis – check out points #2 and #3 from this great list of 30 Amazing Facts About Your Brain from Tim Brownson.  You tend to get more of whatever you think, so if you’re being negative, it’s easier to be negative the next time around.

Question? When you talk to yourself (in your head) are you positive or negative?


Give some serious thought to who you spend time with

Jim Rohn has a famous quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If you’re hanging out with people who are inherently negative, you’re going to be negative as well.  Attitudes (along with success or failure) are contagious – it may be time to consider cleaning up your tribe (easier said than done, but it could have a huge impact on you).

Question?  Are the people you spend the most time with challenging you and helping you get better…or are they holding you back?


Start reframing when you notice potentially negative situations

Reframing is simply the conscious act of changing your perspective on something (an event, an outcome, a person, etc.).  Typically whatever we’re looking at or talking about isn’t inherently good or bad, it depends on how we frame our perception…and you can choose that frame.  Tim Brownson also has a good article on Reframing and how to use it.

Question?  Do you consciously look at a situation or an outcome and find a way to reframe it in a more positive light?  Could you?


There are a lot of other ways to impact your outlook – exercise can be a great way to lift your mood…a lot of people recommend some form of meditation…listen to positive music, read positive books or magazines, watch uplifting movies or shows.  It can even be as simple as staying organized and minimizing the clutter in your space.


How important is positive thinking to you?  When you’re trying to stay (or get) positive, what works best for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach