Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’ve probably experienced that terrible, horrible feeling that everything is going wrong in your life all at once. As if everything in your life is conspiring against you, as if your luck is always turning the wrong way.
Even with the little things. In fact, often it seems especially with little things. You’ve had a bad day – you have to work 60 hours this week, your boss reamed you out for something that wasn’t your fault, and you were denied that raise that you wanted – no, that you needed, because now you won’t be able to afford that ring to propose to your girlfriend. But that’s all right – you’re home, making dinner, and at least the evening will be smooth sailing.
But then that one thing happens – that one little thing that should have been in your control that wasn’t, that one little thing that has nothing to do with anything but seems to exemplify the cruel indifference the world seems to have towards you. Maybe you drop a spoon, or a cup, and as it shatters to the floor that is the final straw, the seemingly insignificant occurrence that nevertheless causes you to scream in a futile rage.
It might seem hopeless – but actually, it’s not. Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide whether or not we’re happy. Even if you think the whole universe has stacked the deck against you, it’s actually likely that everything is not as bad as you think.
When we’re having a bad day (or week, or month, or – heaven forbid – year) we tend to see everything that happens to us in a negative light, even if what happened isn’t necessarily bad. Because you already feel like the deck is stacked against you, your subconscious starts to interpret otherwise neutral events as proof positive that the world is out to get you. In other words, your own primitive, subconscious brain is working against you: it’s doing something called confirmation bias, which is essentially interpreting everything is bad so as to confirm that the world is, in fact, making your life miserable.
(Our brains can be terrible sometimes.)
In fact, it’s been demonstrably proven that people in a negative mindset tend to over focus on negative aspects of everything, ranging from events that happened to them to coworkers and even friends. We are essentially out to get ourselves, and it’s just how our brain is designed.
As much as our psychology is working against us, we still have the power of our conscience. Willpower has been proven time and again to be the best, most effective weapon against this overwhelming negativity. The only one who can override your brain’s constant negativity is you.
So when bad things are happening to you, the most important thing you can do – for yourself, for those around you, and even for your own career – is to remember to focus on the positive. Use the tools available to you and the resources to learn how to break that cycle of negativity.
So remember the next time something bad happens to you that the universe is not out to get you. Bad things happen to everyone, even if you don’t see it: it’s quite possible that smiling guy that just passed by you, seemingly carefree, is struggling with the same problem of negativity that you are struggling with right now.
So filter out the negative, and focus on the positive. Lost your job? Maybe you gain an opportunity. Discover that your spouse is forgetful? Maybe – but they are also loyal, kind, and loving too.
Negativity is easy. It’s what we are wired to do, and if we don’t control ourselves it’s very easy to live the rest of our lives in a paranoid, negative haze. So don’t go the easy way.
Be positive. Don’t give up on life, and chase your happiness and your goals as aggressively and confidently as possible. It’s not unattainable – just difficult. And the difficult things are always the ones worth struggling for.