A few weeks ago, I took my boys to the neighborhood pool. When we got there, I quickly found some chairs near some acquaintances of ours and started to chat with them as the boys swam.

About 20 minutes went by when I began to notice that everything my friend talked about was negative. She said nothing positive, and all she did was complain. When she got to politics, I decided that it was enough and quickly excused myself and jumped into the pool.

As I swam around the pool, I could not help but hear other conversations. Imagine my surprise when I found that they were mostly negative as well. So now I was curious. Was everyone tired and grumpy? Why all the negativity?

I decided to test it, so for the next few days I paid attention to everything I saw and heard to see how much negativity there really was in the world. Let me tell you, I did not have to try very hard.

First, I went to the grocery store. As I waited, I started chatting with the clerk and soon was told about her trip to Japan. She was complaining that her trip was horrible because all they wanted to do was touch her blonde hair!

That evening, I switched on the news and was presented with 30 minutes of rape, murder, and other interesting pieces. In between these heartwarming stores, I listened to commercials about weight loss and adult ADD.

After the news, I flipped around and found Law and Order and CSI Miami, both great shows but hardly positive. It seems I was surrounded by murder and rape, all in prime time. I settled for a Touched by an Angel rerun and went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I continued to pay attention.

First, I went to the post office. As I drove, I flipped on the radio to my favorite radio station, and what did I hear? A woman singing “wounds won’t seem to heal, the pain is just too real.” I switched to another station.

At the post office, there was an identity theft poster by the door. At Target I noticed that they had TV monitors on, and the story running was about how to prevent your child from being abducted.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

I tried the computer. After logging on, I took a look at my home page and saw one story about Al-Qaida and another about a woman found strangled. I then checked my e-mail and received the usual number of spam e-mails, which generally included sales pitches and various offers about Viagra. Do not forget the e-mail from a man in Nigeria who wanted me to send my checking account number so that he could send me millions.

Later that day, I went to get my mail and saw my neighbor outside doing some yard work. When I stopped to say hello, he asked me how I was doing. I replied, “No worries, mate. I feel great today!” I really do not think he was expecting me to say that because he stopped what he was doing and looked at me like I had just escaped from an insane asylum. I just laughed and told him I would see him later.

When did it become politically incorrect to tell people something positive?

By the end of the second day, I was physically sick and incredibly tired: so tired I went to bed at 9:00 P.M. I just wanted to lie down and pull the covers way up over my head and forget about it all.

So what did I learn from this little test? I learned that you can seriously mess up your mind with this stuff! I felt like I had been dragged into a negative world filled with greed, fear, and hatred. A world where you always lack money and you never achieve your dreams because you are too fat, too thin, too sick, need a job, lost a job, and on and on it goes. In fact, my brain had been so saturated with negativity that I was in danger of becoming physically sick!

By the end of the second day, I was yelling at my kids, bickering with my husband, and grumpy to everyone. So I had a huge bowl of ice cream (which I am convinced cures everything), took a hot bath, and went to bed. The test was officially over. Two days was more than enough for me.

On the third day I decided to visit the same places I had gone during the last two days to see what positives I could find there. First, I went to the pool. As I watched, I saw people laughing and smiling while children played. The sound of happy children playing is really one of life’s greatest sounds, and it put an immediate smile on my face.

I then went to the grocery store and saw isle after isle filled with food. Now here was abundance and prosperity! I saw people chatting and smiling and two children happily eating a chocolate doughnut.

I went back to the post office and started to chat with a very nice woman who was mailing a care package to her son in Iraq.

I logged onto the Internet and received a wonderful e-mail from a friend entitled “The Positive Side of Life.”

Later on that day, I saw my neighbor again, so I asked him how he was doing. He turned and looked at me with a big smile on his face and replied, “No worries, mate!” As I drove away, I flipped on the radio and immediately heard a song called “I'm on Top of the World!”

That evening, I turned on the evening news and heard an extremely beautiful story about a woman moving into her first home, built by Habitat for Humanity. Then the weather came on, and I was told that sunshine would be in our area for the next few days. Later that evening, I watched a rerun on ABC called Extreme Makeover—Home Edition, an incredible show that helps needy families get a new home.

There is a spiritual principle out there that says what you put your attention to grows. Certainly the case here! I put my attention to all the negative “stuff” for a few days, and it slammed into me so hard that I wanted to cry from it all. It got so bad that I saw negativity and fear everywhere I went. It could make a person seriously paranoid! When I put my attention on the positive, it grew too. It was like it had suddenly stopped raining and the warm sun came out.

So how do you remain positive, healthy, and prosperous in a negative world?

• Surround yourself with positive people.
• Treat others like you want to be treated.
• Turn off the news and avoid newspapers as much as possible, although you should scan things so you know what is going on.
• Write down all the positive things that have happened to you in the last month, and post them where you can see them. “See” your life as a success! Do not see your life as a failure! Look at all the positive things that you have done.
• Put a positive/inspirational poster over your desk. You can also put a plus sign or the words stay positive over your desk to remind you to be positive.
• Read inspirational books.
• Turn someone else’s negative day into a positive.

Now please know that I am not telling you to blindly ignore the reality of the world. I am telling you that you can see that reality and also see the positives as well. The world can indeed be a cruel place. Crime, poverty, and illness seem to be everywhere, but the world can be a beautiful place filled with love, warmth, compassion, and prosperity. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?

Negative things will happen in the world. They happen to all of us! But look at it this way: Positive things will happen as well. Good things will happen to you. Joy will find you!

It goes back to the law of physics that we attract like energy. So if we put out negative thoughts and actions and constantly focus on the negative, then we will attract negative back to us. It will be all that we see! Conversely, if we put out positive thoughts and try our best to see the positive, then we will attract the positive back.

We live in a negative world. So be it. However, I refuse to be negative and will continue to remain positive as much as possible. I have had my share of bad times; trust me, I wrote the book on that one. The good news is that I do not have to stay that way if I do not choose to. I choose prosperity, love, and compassion.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways3.html

Author's Bio: 

Katharine has been a meeting/event planner and concierge for over 20 years and has set up five successful businesses: Meeting Planning Plus, Triangle International, NewRoad Publishing, XPACS, and Triangle Concierge. She is Triangle Concierge’s senior trainer and speaker and is the author of their best-selling book The Concierge Manual. A dynamic public speaker, Katharine has been a speaker at seminars and conferences around the country and has appeared on both radio and television. She is also the author of the acclaimed inspirational book God, Is That You? She can be reached through her Web sites at http://www.triangleconcierge.com and http://www.katharinegiovanni.com.