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Life That Works: It's Not a Feeling

This post belongs in this positivity quest- and was one that I had to return to today to remember that my working life demands this respectful approach to its process. I get lost in discouraging events and lose sight of the courage that got me there. I misjudge my momentary experiences of grief or frustration as the truth of the situation. The truth about positivity work is that it has little to do with the feelings that bounce us around; it has everything to do with how we choose to think and the vigilant practice of thinking well.

Most of us share a common misconception about happiness. We expect to identify it through our feeling state rather than viewing it as the perceptual frame of reference that it is. Oddly you could be quite happy at a work task and not feel happy in the moment at all: satisfied with your effort and persistence but frustrated by the problem solving that most projects demand may well be happiness but doesn't make you smile.

It is understandable that we mistake the daily work of thriving for happiness. Advertising consistently misrepresents happiness as bliss. Real happiness, we think, is smiling and laughing together with other like-minded attractive people in nice cars and clothing. In actuality, bliss, like acute anxiety or deep sadness, is a rare moment in the texture of our daily lives. Intense emotions, whether positive or negative, are the threads in the complex and mysterious fabric of life. They teach us how to find center and provide a guide by which to navigate.

In truth, our ability to be happy should be compared to our capacity for health and fitness. Regardless of where you begin, with clear aspirations and a decent work ethic, anyone can get more positive, just as they can become more physically well. Although attending to one's physical well being is highly correlated with a more positive mindset, developing the trait of positive thinking is a workout of its own.

Creating and working at a positive frame of reference requires the same work and commitment as body building. Anyone who has successfully lost weight and has maintained their newfound physical strength will attest to the fact that the work doesn't end when you meet you goal. Instead the work becomes a set of eating and movement habits that reform your life. The same is true about replacing negative thinking patterns with positive ones, slowly the work becomes new mental habits that require practice like any habits.

Hundreds of studies correlate this frame of reference with greater personal creativity and productivity. Cultivating a positive world view gives you an edge in relationships, too. The core of a functional relationship is an inside job and when you are constantly working on your own positive perspective you don't rely on your partner to offer it. In fact, the opposite is true. Your own positive mind sets the bar for people you love.

Our attitudes are more contagious than the worst colds and when each person in a partnership comes whole to the work of relating, it gives the relationship the space and time it needs to grow into something that can hold you both. Too often, we expect our relationships to do something for us that we don't realize that only we can offer ourselves.

It took me 38 days of vigilant attention to stop saying negative things and another 42 to stop thinking them. Slowly, this negative space that I didn't often even recognize evaporated enough to be replaced with equally true thoughts that supported me in the life I wanted. My business began to thrive in this positive glow, as did all of my familial relationships, including my marriage. When I think about my work or my future, my primary daily commitment is to learn more about and live more deeply in my positive frame of reference. The rest will take care of itself.