Does it seem strange that some people COMPLAIN they don’t have enough TIME to be happy, yet they find enough time to be sad? Not really. You see, their deplorable plight has nothing to do with having sufficient or insufficient time. It has everything to do with complaining. After all, complaining is the negation of happiness. It’s impossible to complain and be happy at the same time.
So, beware of that insidious disease known as ‘negativitis’ (negative thinking). It is as pervasive as the common cold, but far more damaging. It mutilates, cripples, and corrodes the human spirit. Those infected by it are broken men and women aimlessly plodding along. The dark clouds brooding over them obscure their vision and cause them to become confrontational, apathetic, and cynical. Their lives are like flat champagne, without any sizzle. So, how do we inoculate ourselves against such a harmful disease? It was only after learning about the horrible effects of smoking that people began to give it up. It may be wise to do the same here. So, let’s review the effects of negativitis.
1. Complaining is worse than doing nothing, for it is digging the rut one is in deeper and deeper. Each time one complains, it becomes increasingly difficult to climb out of the ditch they’ve created. To loosen the grip of this vicious habit, we need to become aware of our complaining, stop it in its tracks, and immediately look for something positive to say. It’s just a matter of replacing a bad habit with a good one.
2. A negative attitude is self-defeating. We won’t find solutions to life’s problems by looking for someone or something to blame. Those who say, “Positive thinking doesn’t work for me,” have got it backwards. It’s not positive thinking that has to work; YOU have to work. For example, you have to work at appreciating what you have instead of moaning about what you lack.
3. Failure to do what you want to do (be happy) causes physical and mental stress. A rotten attitude, not only delays success, but also shortens life by damaging the immune system (to learn more on how your thoughts affect your immune system, investigate psychoneuroimmunology). So, besides the diseases directly caused by stress, such as heart disease and ulcers, we become susceptible to all manner of other diseases because of a weakened immune system.
4. Do you know anyone with a negative attitude? How many years have they been that way? Two years? Five years? Ten years? That’s how many years of happiness and success they have robbed themselves of. Blinded by their own negativity, they are prevented from seeing the good around them.
5. One characteristic of negative thinkers is their need to have the world behave according to their wishes. They have never grown up and still live with childish demands. Whenever people and the world fail to act according to their selfish wishes, they are unhappy. Such a poisonous attitude prevents them from growing and learning how to cope with life’s challenges.
6. Everything negative we say about ourselves to ourselves (self-talk) and to others is a suggestion. We are unwittingly practicing self-hypnosis, programing ourselves for failure, and creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
7. The negative world of our imagination creates a negative world that is real and one that we are forced to live in. Take Ralph, for example. He’s always complaining about life. “Nowadays people are rude and surly. No matter where you go or what you do, you have to deal with ill-bred people.” As he said this, we made our way to a coffee shop. Once inside, we were greeted by a cheerful chap who asked us what we would like. Sighing (as if it took a great effect to speak), Ralph, almost inaudibly, ordered a medium sized regular coffee. When it arrived, he started complaining. Pointing to the cup, he said, “This is medium?” Without waiting for a response, he added, “You should have told me your cups are so small; I would have ordered a large one if I knew.” Despite the long line that Ralph was holding up, the man behind the counter tried to be patient. Without complaint, he took away the small coffee and replaced it with a large one. As soon as it arrived, Ralph looked at it aghast and bellowed, “You call this regular? There’s not enough cream!” The man behind the counter, who only moments ago was cheerful was now upset and sarcastically replied, “Yes, for MOST people, this is regular, but if you INSIST, I’ll put in more cream. Perhaps next time you may want to ask for DOUBLE cream!” I was next, so I got my coffee and joined Ralph at the table. “See,” he told me, “what did I say to you? People are rude.” Yes, in Ralph’s world, people ARE rude, but what he does not realize is he makes them so.
8. A particularly pernicious effect of ‘negativitis’ is that it sets one up for the mentality of a victim. Those with a woe-is-me attitude sit around in misery, waiting to be rescued. But they wait in vain because no one can rescue them from their own attitude. They are the only ones who can change it. And until they do so, they are condemned to continue suffering.
9. Another adverse effect of negativity is that it sets one up for the magic-bullet-syndrome. That is, the victim of ‘negativitis’ spends their time looking for a quick, easy fix, when none exists. By denying a fundamental law of life that states anything worthwhile requires effort to achieve, they achieve nothing. They won’t make progress until they realize that nothing in life is free. They’ve got to be willing to do what it takes to get what they want.
10. Also, beware of the fact that negative people attract other complainers. Because those who live in a world of doom and gloom alienate others, they have no choice but to look for other negative people to associate with. They then feed off one another and get locked in a clique of losers.
11. The constant stress that flows from a negative attitude also saps one’s energy, focus, and motivation. It is hardly a formula for success.
12. Also of great concern is the fact that those who refuse to work on improving their negative attitude may slide into depression, self-pity, and hopelessness.
13. Additionally, negative people not only harm themselves; they harm the world. They cease to make a contribution to it. Instead of helping, they spread gloom and misery everywhere. If they insist on infecting others, why not infect them with laughter? If they must carry something contagious, why not carry a smile?
Imagine being in a small boat drifting in a river. And imagine being unaware that your boat has a motor. As long as you fail to use that motor you will be a captive of the river. You will be a prisoner without any control over your destination. Yet, the boat that we’re in does have a motor. We can use it to change course. That motor is our power of choice. All we have to do is choose to look for the good, for when we do so, that is all we will find!
Chuck Gallozzi lived, studied, and worked in Japan for 15 years, immersing himself in the wisdom of the Far East and graduating with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Asian Studies. He is a Certified NLP Practitioner, speaker, seminar leader, and coach. Corporations, church groups, teachers, counselors, and caregivers use his more than 400 articles as a resource to help others. Among his diverse accomplishments, he is also the Grand Prix Winner of a Ricoh International Photo Competition, the Canadian National Champion of a Toastmasters International Humorous Speech Contest, and the Founder and Head of the Positive Thinkers Group that has been meeting at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto since 1999. His articles are published in books, newsletters, magazines, and newspapers. He was interviewed on CBC’s “Steven and Chris Show,” appearing nationally on Canadian TV. Chuck can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his photography at https://500px.com/chuckgallozzi. This article cannot be re-published without permission.