If you want happiness, one way is to remove all of the negativity from your life. Outside of your own negative thoughts (an issue discussed in another article) you also deal with negative people who could be destroying your happiness. This could be the friend who has a way of making innocent remarks that injure your self-esteem, the significant other who returns every few months promising that things will be better this time, or the co-workers who find pleasure in endlessly complaining about their job, boss, and company. You can probably think of other negative people from your own experiences as well.
The problem with these individuals is that their negativity does not stay confined to themselves only. For example, if you work regularly with a negative person then eventually their negativity will start to influence how you perceive things. The new project that would once have excited you now makes you dread the extra work. The pep talks from management that seemed pleasant and useful now seem like a waste of time and energy. As your perceptions of the world around you and of yourself begin to become more negative, you become less and less happy. Negativity and happiness simply don’t co-exist in the same psyche.
So what can you do? First, you have to remove yourself – as much as possible – from these negative influences. That’s easy to say but harder to do. What if the negative person is a parent or sibling? What if the negative person is your own spouse or your supervisor? In these cases, you may not be able to remove them from your life completely but you may need to be honest with them. If your supervisor starts complaining about management, you may just have to say, “I understand your point of view but I’m trying to stay positive about work. It’s hard but it helps me get through the day.” That kind of statement acknowledges the person’s frustration (often the root of their negative feelings) but clearly and kindly lets the speaker know you don’t want to be “brought down” by his or her negativity.
With some people, distance is the only way to inoculate you from their influence. You may have to stop taking calls and text messages from that old significant other. You may want to start building a new circle of friends to avoid having your self-esteem lowered by your old friend’s comments. You may want to even look for a new job where your co-workers are more positive about their work. These changes aren’t easy but they can lead to greater happiness for you and that’s what matters most.
Remember you ultimately have control over your own happiness. You have to decide whether or not these negative influences are worth keeping around if they put your own happiness and positivity in peril. Making those tough decisions is a first step in securing a happy life.