If you consider yourself a negative thinker or your emotions bring you down, is it possible to change and overcome negativity? I've been studying personal development now for over a year and it's what this blog is all about. One of the resounding messages that have been very subtle but pervasive among great teachers (for example The 7 Habits author Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar, Anthony Robbins, and other very notable experts) that I have picked up is that our emotions and how we act are completely separate — if we make that choice. In spite of feeling or thinking negatively, we can choose to act positively.
For instance, Stephen Covey talks about a gap existing between stimulus and response. That is, when stuff happens to us that is part 1 of a 3 step process. Part two of Covey's idea is that we consciously or subconsciously make a choice; and part 3 says that we ultimately react. Make a special note that there is a special between stimulus and response where we choose our behaviors.
What does this gap mean?
This beautiful choice we are faced with is what makes us different from other species on Earth. As Jim Rohn puts it, the goose can only fly south in the winter. Humans, on the other hand, can do whatever they choose. Whether you wake up feeling vibrant and full of life or sluggish and downtrodden you can choose how you want to react. In the past, I made the mistake of thinking this was easy, and figured that I should feel like doing an activity before starting that activity.
Since then, I have learned that despite feeling or thinking negatively, we can choose to overcome negativity and act positively. Inevitably, this will make us feel better. I'd also be willing to bet you will start thinking better as a result as well.
Why bother with motivation?
The idea of behaving according to how you feel seems to play a large part in many peoples' motivation. For instance, I would wager that most people attribute very successful people to largely being very motivated. However, the entire idea of motivation is a huge pitfall for many people.
Zig Ziglar is a personal achievement guru, plain and simple. I've heard him make a great point before that motivation follows the act. Zig Ziglar a guy who was an aimless wanderer and underachiever into his early to mid 40's. Around this time he completely turned his life around and ends up leading his sales force virtually overnight. How did this happen? I don't think it was because energy usually picks up in your mid 40s. Rather, he was able to change his life because somewhere in his mind he started thinking and choosing to behave differently.
Stimulus > Choice > Response
The strongest emotions can drastically change our lives, but the beautiful part is that you can dramatically change your life by your own freedom of choice, whether you're feeling like a "go-getter" or a "maybe-later" attitude.
We can act according to how we want to act even in the face of negative thoughts. The choice and power ultimately lies with each of us. We can choose to act against our negative thoughts and live a higher life. That is exactly what I hope you have the enjoyment of doing today and tomorrow and beyond!