Friday, April 1, 2011


I absolutely-without-a-doubt know that when I present a positive attitude to the world I feel better. When I smile, or laugh, I feel better. This is not news – this information has been around for more than a few years. We feel better when we think positively, smile and laugh. So, if I know all of this – why do I engage in entertaining negative thoughts, catastrophizing, complaining, bemoaning, and being grumpy (Yep – I can really complain. Want references?). I mean, I am supposed to be an expert in this positive thinking stuff (and, I do know a lot about it). So, why would I not always smile and always be positive. I mean, I don’t think that I am a masochist!

We now know that each one of us is somewhat pre-programed to be either a positive or a negative person. We enter the world with a tendency toward one or the other. In other words, we have an attitude default. But if we consider the nature or nurture info, we also know that we have influence over our attitude, and we can change it. Actually, we have CONTROL over our attitude (and remember, there is not much in life that we actually can control). We get to choose our attitude.

I think that negativity becomes a habit. Even if our pre-programming called for us to be positive, we can override it, and choose to be negative. And that override becomes easier with time. Oh, come on! Even the most positive of us do this occasionally when we just want to have a good sulk (we feel justified to get a good grump on). The person born with a tendency toward negativity doesn’t have to work as hard to stay perpetually negative (Oh, and we sooooo enjoy being around these folks, don’t we?).

I’m working on this. I am trying to remember that what I project to the world is what comes back to me (in spades). I am definitely NOT a Pollyanna, but If I can choose to find something ludicrous in a situation instead of feeling irritated by it (like the guy who cuts me off when I’m driving and I really want to engage in sign language), I benefit. On the days when it seems like everything in the morning is going wrong, I can choose to stop, take a deep breath, force a smile on my face, and start the day over. I can choose not to dump my annoyances with the world onto others (I shall save that for my therapist – after all, she’s getting paid to listen to me), because when I do that I really don’t feel better and I have definitely rained on another’s parade. I can remember the saying that has become rather a cliché, but is still true: Give me an attitude of gratitude.

I’m inviting you to come along with me as I work on this. Send me some feedback. Smiles really are contagious. Spread the virus!

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT

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