Posts tagged with ‘positive attitude’

29 aug

Have the Time of Your Life

JayForteI have great respect and affection for older people. Maybe I have an old spirit or just really admire the strength to survive on the planet for many years, but I find older people remarkable.

I was particularly fond of all four of my grandparents. And unlike so many of my friends, I had a great opportunity to spend a large part of my life with these amazing people. Their life lessons showed their generosity, limitless love and energy, and at the same time their criticalness and worry. After all, they were human too. But most of what I remember is their love of every day – that wherever you were, you were to be there, in that moment, and appreciating what was around you.

I was reminded of all this as we sat at lunch this week with friends of my in-laws. Both in this couple are older, nearly eighty, and one is significantly ill with scleroderma. But neither condition stops them from being fully present in their lives.

At lunch they shared stories of their recent road trip that took them over four thousand miles to see family, be part of a wedding, visit old friends, and spend time with their kids. Originally, they planned to make this a bus trip but opted instead to drive. Armed with a GPS and a preferred card at Choice Hotels, they spent nearly four weeks meandering through the lives and homes of their friends and family. With the health condition they had to take it slow and rely on the help of people at the hotels and on their families. Everyone stepped up. As they both said, “It was a trip of a lifetime.”

What impressed me most, besides the excitement still in the voices as they shared story after story about the trip, was their courage – the courage to go on this trip – the courage to get up and actively live each day. They appreciate life, its plusses and minuses as part of the way life is. They choose to live as much of life as they can. None of the significant challenges they bear showed up in their stories. No complaints; nothing owed to them. They wanted an amazing trip – they did it, they loved it and they will remember it forever. They had the time of their lives.

My first thought in all this was to applaud them for the courage to go for what they dreamed of. But it made me think – isn’t that really something we all should feel? Why is it we feel that life is any less sacred, important or valued when we are young than when we become old? Why is life any less spectacular when we are well than when we are sick?

We never know the amount of time we are given. That should remind us that life is truly a gift and that it is to be celebrated, applauded and fully lived each day. In the utterly spectacular book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, author Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen shares a powerful line said by a patient who was challenged with a terminal illness, “When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.” Isn’t this really the way we all should live? Since we never know what is coming next, shouldn’t we spend more time dancing?

As with many older people, their lives, attitudes and stories share the wisdom that everyday is more valued, more spectacular and more extraordinary because you get to have it. And why not take a road trip to share your life with those who matter most to you? As much as the road trip was a trip of a lifetime for our friends, it was also the visit of a lifetime for the people they saw. Funny how that works. When we are busy having the time of our lives, we are also helping to create the time of someone else’s life.

It seems that the smartest people on the planet are those who are in touch with their humanity and mortality. They don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Dave Ramsey says it best, “[So many people] spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” Wise people choose life events over life things. Maybe this is the wisdom in age that I so appreciate. Maybe this is the lesson for all who are younger. Don’t wait. Live the life you love. Make good choices. Have the time of your life.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. His new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World, will be available in October 2010. He inspires people to connect to their talents and passions to be fired up! in life and at work. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com and www.TheGreatnessZone.com.

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Posted by Jay Forte on August 29th, 2010 in Career, Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

07 mar

Your “Half-Empty” Perspective Is Killing You

JayForteAttitude – it defines us. I remember working with a colleague who was chronically pessimistic. Whatever was said, he always found the negative. If it were a nice day, he would comment how bad weather was due. If we had success in the workplace, it was a matter of time before something failed. I chose to see the glass half full; he chose to see the glass half empty. I focused on gain, success, optimism and possibility; he focused on loss, failure, pessimism and shortage. He was a chronic downer; a vortex of negative energy. He was, however, a life lesson.

I wasn’t always optimistic. My background, like for many, taught me life was difficult; good will always be offset by bad – as if there were some required life balance of pain and pleasure. It was this colleague, however, who introduced me to seeing the negative and positive attributes in our responses, and noticing how they made me feel. His perspective reminded me of how brief life is and by focusing on the negative instead of the positive was a waste of time.

This started my interest in researching the impact of a positive attitude not only on a person’s success but on his physical and metal wellbeing. Dr. Esther Sternberg’s states in her book, The Balance Within, The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, “Perhaps if we could relearn a new set of associations, turn negative into positive, we could in some sense consciously control our health.” She continues, “The more optimistic the person, the less an event was perceived as stressful, the more robust were their immune-cell responses.” There is a direct correlation between positive emotions and a strong immune system.

This is further explained in Dr. Robert Sapolsky’s book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. He presents when we are in periods of calm, our body’s systems work as they should – the heart slows allowing normal blood flow to all of the routine life systems – digestive, circulatory, excretory, reproductive. We maintain our bodies internally – we stay healthy.

However, when we encounter an event (including an emotion) that activates our fight-or-flight mechanism, different biological functions respond. Blood is called from the maintenance systems and is now directed to organs that will increase our ability to survive (blood vessels are constricted raising the speed and force of the heart’s contraction, widening air passages to the lungs, dilating the pupils for increased perception, releasing glucose into the blood for quick energy, and shifting blood from the intestinal tract to the heart and muscles – paraphrased from How We Live by Sherwin Nuland). This reaction suppresses our immune system; if sustained, this impacts our health.

It is important to note is that a negative attitude can activate the fight-or-flight response. So the office downer, the family curmudgeon, or the negative energy friend – those who are constantly focused on the “half-empty” perspective – live in a perpetual state of fight or flight. This activates the fight-or-flight systems and suppresses the immune system. Being a cynic, grump or pessimist is bad for your health.

This ties in directly with Ariane de Bonvoisin’s first principle of successfully handling change, “People who successfully navigate change have positive beliefs.” This positivity activates your health, your greater thinking and stronger positive emotions. Positivity and optimism actually create a healthier life.

Positive beliefs come from you – you may not be able to control the things that happen to you but you can control how you respond to them. You can choose to see “half-full” – upbeat, optimistic and confident – or “half-empty” – down, pessimistic and unsure.

Consider these ways to build a more positive perspective:

  1. Notice when you become negative and immediately focus on something positive. Have others help you see your behavior.
  2. Read a power quote or an inspirational passage to start your day on a positive tone.
  3. Create an upbeat “break” during the day. Focus on 3 things that have gone well. Celebrate them. I like to use a “what went well today” list.
  4. Choose your friends wisely; associate with positive and confident people.

To make the point, here are some great half-empty/half-full perspectives from the website www.businessballs.com.

  • The project manager/engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
  • The bar fly says is not about whether the glass is half full or half empty, it’s about who is paying for the next round.
  • The consultant says let’s examine the question, prepare a strategy for an answer, and all for a daily rate of…
  • The worrier frets that the remaining half will evaporate by tomorrow.
  • The fanatic thinks the glass is completely full, even though it isn’t.
  • The entrepreneur sees the glass as undervalued by half its potential.
  • The computer specialist says that next year the glass capacity will double and will cost half the price.
  • The Buddhist says don’t worry, remember the glass is already broken.
  • The personal coach knows that the glass goes from full to empty depending on the circumstances, and reminds the drinker that he can always fill the glass when he wishes.
  • The grammarian says that while the terms half-full and half-empty are colloquially acceptable the glass can technically be neither since both full and empty are absolute states and therefore are incapable of being halved or modified in any way.

You control your attitude. Know yourself; choose to be positive and upbeat. It is great for your happiness and your health.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He is working on his new book, Work Strong, Live Stronger. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on March 7th, 2010 in Ariane, Career, Family, General, Health, Personal Stories, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , ,