Seeing the positive in the negative image

I want to start with a story today. A story of a girl that we met yesterday. One that so beautifully displayed positivity in every action and showed us what having a Positive Attitude really means. She is the inspiration for my blog today and I’m sure for all those who read it.

Here goes…

The Story

Yesterday, me and my colleague went to visit one of his friends. Just like him, she was a dog lover and had adopted two dogs a few months back. Since my colleague had been taking care of animals for a very long time now, he knew all about them and was even comfortable giving them vaccinations. So, that was our mission. Vaccinating her pets. Well, this was all that I knew before we arrived there…

After hopping on and off various modes of communication, we finally reached her place. And she came outside her compound gate to welcome us in. She was extremely warm and had a sweet happy smile. As soon as we arrived, my colleague sent her off to the nearby chemist to get some syringes as he had run out of them. She came back with the same, happily interacting with all the people she met on her way back!

The girl first took us to see an old dog that lived in her compound. She had asked my colleague to vaccinate him too. She used to feed the dog and a dozen other cats in the area. However, she was unable to catch him and take him for a vaccination. When we tried, we realized the dog still didn’t seem too keen on it!  He was old and therefore my colleague felt it best to give it a pass.

Instead, we decided to head straight towards her house to vaccinate her dogs. They were puppies and hence more susceptible to diseases. Therefore, it made more sense to spend the little time that we had on hand there.

A girl with 2 dogs


When we entered the house, however, I was in for a shock of a different kind. It was a small house with basically one room. The room too had just the bare essentials, and that too very few of them! Things were in bad shape. They were old, dirty and some even looked broken. The room smelled of dog urine and the plaster on the walls was being kept in place by masking tape. It was beyond me how this little girl was living in those conditions.

The Situation

The girl suddenly got a call from her boss. Seeing the shock on my face and her being occupied with the call, my colleague took the opportunity to explain her situation to me.

She had lost her mother to cancer a few years back and her father had re-married and was living elsewhere. She lived alone for the past few years and earned whatever she could through a call-center job. Her salary hardly lasted her, so she had to put their old house on rent and was now staying in a cheaper rental place. She had also recently learned that she was suffering from a disease and did not have the resources to get herself treated.

If that wasn’t enough, I learned that she had also lost one of her dear pets a few years back to a deadly disease. That’s where my colleague had got acquainted with her and had tried to save the dog, but in vain. And now, 8 months back, she had adopted these two terribly sick puppies as she was unable to see their plight.

The Silver Lining

It was her attitude and the way she had taken all of this at such a young age! Although life had been difficult and a struggle to survive, she still moved ahead with so much of positivity. Throughout the evening she had a broad beaming smile and a childlike demeaner that is rare to see even in small children nowadays! She laughed and joked even while she spoke about her father and the names he would use to call her dogs. Her undying spirit and energy were truly admirable. And I could feel the gratitude in my heart for having met her.

I remember how she so casually mentioned that she was unable to get her dogs vaccinated for so long as it was too costly at a neighbouring NGO. Even when my colleague offered to pay the entire vaccination cost for her dogs on condition that she would use the amount to feed them better quality food, she willingly agreed.

The girl used to work from home. And yes, her dogs were difficult to manage, especially when she had to make them sit quietly while she took on customer calls. However, she was ready to put up with their ‘hyper behaviour’ as she felt they were her support, especially when she felt lonely.

Now that’s what I call a truly Positive Attitude!


What is a Positive Attitude?

That’s easy, isn’t it. It’s about being positive at all times no matter what your outer circumstances are. Just like our girl did. Her life was tough, but she chose to stay happy and positive.

I’m sure a lot of people in her situation would have become bitter and negative. And their recurring negative reactions to such difficult situations would have resulted in forming a negative attitude. So much so, that their negative perception of the world would spill over to even the positive events in their life, which in turn would appear negative to them!


Developing a Positive Attitude

People often feel that to build a positive attitude you need to ignore the negative and literally shut your eyes to it. But my question is, can you really do that? Just imagine, as a human being we have approximately 70,000 + thoughts in a day and 80 to 90% of them are negative. If we were asked to ignore those many negative thoughts, how much of a struggle it would be. And how much turmoil it would cause us internally!

Okay, so how do we imbibe a positive attitude then?

It’s about looking at the negative straight in the eye, acknowledging it for what is it and then choosing to actually see the hidden positive in it. So, while our friend in the story could have just kept telling herself that she was positive and happy as most people would advise, she chose otherwise. She acknowledged the fact that she felt lonely and then chose to keep the two dogs to help her manage her loneliness. Seeing the difference?


The Glad Game

What I just shared with you, is actually a technique, popularly called the Glad Game. It’s about seeing the positive in a seemingly negative situation.

Let’s take COVID as an example. COVID was a negative situation, right? People falling sick and losing their lives, others losing their jobs, economies crashing, lack of availability of food and other basic resources, people getting stuck at various places, etc. In short, a rather grim picture. And how does that feel? Not great, right? Makes you feel all dull and negative.

Now try to look at the positive in this negative situation. So, what was good about COVID? We got plenty of time with our families, played games we had never had the time to play before, cooked dishes and learnt so many new ones, pursued their hobbies, started paying more attention to our health and well-being, the virtual world came alive and we started connecting with people from across the globe at a very different level, etc. Now how does that feel? Good, right? A feeling of positivity and hope. And a feeling of COVID not being that bad actually!

A single smiley face amongst all the other sad smiley faces

So, what did we just do? We chose to pick out the positives in a situation where we had already recognized and acknowledged the negatives.


Why Negative and then Positive?

Now what would happen if I had asked you to directly be positive about COVID? While you would have made an attempt to say positive things about it, there would probably be a voice in your head which would be banging and saying “But what about the negatives it brought. How can you ignore those!” That’s the reason why we have to look at every situation in its entirety, with negative first and then the positive. Only then does our critical mind feel satisfied and quietens enough to let us see the positive.

Now one thing is for sure, we don’t have to make much effort to find the negatives. We are unfortunately all trained in that skill too well! Our minds can do that at superfast speed. It’s the bit after that which takes effort and training.

So, once our mind has had a chance to share why the situation is so bad and how we are the poor victims of it, ask it to gently change gears. Ask it to look for what’s positive in the situation.  And that’s when the magic will happen.


Practice makes Perfect

While it will be difficult in the start and your mind will want to go back to its comfort zone of negativity, don’t give up. Keep trying to look for the positive. You can even take help from people around you as it may be easier for them in situations that they are not actually a part of and where their emotions don’t give them a touch time!

Slowly and steadily with consistent practice, you will be able to steer your mind towards the positive. And what happens then? You develop a new habit of positive thinking and you are gifted with a positive attitude. You will now be able to see situations, people and yourself in a new light. A positive light, full of opportunities and hope.

P.S. If you want to speed up this process, also start working on managing negative emotions along with your negative thoughts. There’s a beautiful technique called the Emotional Freedom Technique. It works on a similar principle. Acknowledge the negative emotion to process it and then shift to a positive emotion. You can read more about it here and practice it to get freedom from the negative emotions that are weighing down your positivity.

Here’s wishing you all the best. May you be bestowed with a positive attitude. One that can get you through any challenging situation that may come your way😊


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