To me, the single biggest obstacle to success is negative thinking. We all strive for happiness but too often we let other people and their negativity affect us, and we eventually become a victim of circumstance.
Ask yourself, “What makes you happy the most?” You will not find happiness in material things like wealth, fame, power or beauty. You can only find true happiness in the love that you share with your loved ones. I feel it’s really important to show our loved ones that we care for them because the relationships that we share with them are the source of our strength.
My life experience has taught me that these relationships can also be the source of our weakness if we let pessimism, anxiety, distrust and misery rule them. Negative people may seem harmless but their toxic behaviour can consume so much time and energy even on the few occasions that we encounter them simply because negativity is contagious.
Sometimes, we unknowingly let toxic individuals influence what we do and think. They manipulate our feelings and diminish our motivation. If you look around, it’s not hard to identify these types of people. Their lousy attitude often manifests itself in their catastrophic thinking, and they tend to excel at finding problems in all solutions. Their fatalistic outlook will not only contribute to your failure but may take a toll on your health and wellbeing.
I always remind myself to channel my time and energy away from negative thoughts, people and situation and consciously choose to refocus them to what makes me happy. I practise these five approaches to take control of my own happiness and eliminate negativity in my life.
1. Guard your time and learn to say goodbye
I find that negative people monopolise my time and drain my energy. It is so easy to spend three hours of your precious time for a work meeting with a friend over coffee and then spend two hours venting about her colleagues, husband or friend that she hates after the meeting, and you’ve just given the person five precious hours of your time.
Don’t allow negative people to steal your time and energy. As a rule of thumb, I give myself 30 minutes maximum to talk about unpleasant topics and I reserve the same amount of time for negative people.
Venting doesn’t rid you of your anger and frustration, it only adds fuel to the fire. Choose to talk about something more productive that adds value rather than complain about things and people that you hate. Complainers dwell so much on the problems at hand rather than working towards the outcome and solutions that they want.
There is a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear to a friend and getting sucked in their downward emotional spiral. I would set boundaries and distance myself when necessary from complainers and negative people. In extreme situations, I’d just say goodbye and cut them out entirely from my life.
2. Jangan cepat melatah, pick your battles
When I encounter someone who tries to irritate me or bring my mood down, I don’t engage. I remind myself, “Jangan cepat melatah, pick your battles and live to fight another day.”
With the weight of all the responsibilities that I shoulder, I simply cannot afford to be sucked into other people’s negativity, and I must stay positive. My personal mantra is “I am going to be happy and stay positive today”.
No matter what other people say or do, I walk away from unnecessary conflicts and will not allow negative energy to dictate my emotions. I have learnt to completely let go because I know that I am a fighter and if my feelings are left unchecked, I’d dig my heels in and fight the battle which may leave me bruised if not severely hurt.
I try to read my own emotions and respond to them wisely. That way, I know when to stand my ground and fight when the time is right.
3. Rise above and stand tall
Beware of people who feed you with dreads, worries and complaints because they will kill your passion for life and prevent you from living your life to the fullest.
I try paying close attention to how my mind works around people like this. I notice that sometimes, these people will try to influence me by feeding me with negative thoughts and before I knew it, I wasted so much time and energy over-thinking, fretting and rehashing things that are not productive at all. All this negative thinking often leads me to make sweeping generalisations and catastrophic predictions which, if I let them, are likely to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
In life, I have met so many individuals who let other people own their credibility and reputation. They would complain that, “Mr So-and-so is spreading rumours and gossip about me,” yet they do nothing to about the whole situation. Instead, they would allow the negativity to fester and just let their life be ruled by it.
When I find myself in situations like this, I tell myself to regroup and choose the best way forward. Throughout my career, I have learnt to establish my boundaries. I used to live and work with negative individuals, and I thought I had no control, that I had no choice, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I found out that I could rise above any problematic situation and stand tall as a person, learn to trust and believe in myself.
4. Get to know your emotions
Negative people can bring out the worst in you, and they can drive you crazy with their irrational behaviours. You cannot stop someone from pushing your buttons if you are not in control of what is happening. You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. Maintaining an emotional distance requires a high level of self-awareness.
If you don’t have self-awareness, it’s difficult to take control of difficult conversations and challenging situations and prevent yourself from being embroiled in unnecessary conflicts. Being mindfully aware of my emotions has paid off well for me when I need to set my boundaries and decide how to engage a difficult or negative person or take control of a chaotic situation.
I also learn to forgive (but never forget) people for their wrongdoings. When I let go, I can move on and release myself from being held captive by the negative thinking inflicted on me. What you “feel” and what is “real” are often very different. We often show our best selves in front of others but doing the right thing when no one is looking speaks to the core of our integrity.
Glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove. So, I won’t let anyone limit my joy. I am the master of my own happiness.
5. Seek out positive people
It is impossible to look at the bright side when you are surrounded by negativity. So, seek out positive people to keep you balanced. A happy person can lighten your spirit and brighten your day because positive energy, too, is contagious.
A quick lunch with a funny colleague or family gathering that guaranteed to be filled with laughter help me stay on track. Spending time with my children gives me so much joy, and I try to keep busy with exercises and all the things that bring happiness to me.
Ultimately, you have the power. You have to decide now that you are not going to allow negative people to dictate your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Get back your mojo, learn to refocus your time and energy on becoming the best version of yourself.