Have you heard the story of a shoe company that sent two salesmen into the backwoods? After a few days, both came back. One was frustrated: “It was a waste of time. None of these people wear shoes.” The second was enthused: “Tremendous opportunity here. None of these people wear shoes.”
It’s pretty obvious which salesman was more successful, and for that matter, which is most likely to be happy. Everyone knows that positive attitudes produce positive results, right? Then why are so many people so negative so often?
My daughter Samara is a high school senior. For months she and her friends have been preoccupied with college applications. Most applied to lots of colleges “to be safe,” and all of them learned this month that they were admitted to at least one quality institution. You’d think they’d be happy. Instead they have been filling their Facebook posts, text messages, and conversations with negativity. Everyone, it seems, found something to be unhappy about, and as they share their disappointments, they bring each other further down.
What a shame these teenagers choose to dwell on the schools they didn’t get into rather than the ones that accepted them. And let there be no mistake – it is a choice. Ultimately, the most important factor in happiness is not disposition but discipline.
It’s natural to have negative thoughts, but we don’t have to let those negative thoughts define a situation. The simplest way to improve our lives is to develop the habit of positive thinking by consciously and consistently replacing every negative thought with a positive one. It takes patience and practice, but it pays off.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.