It’s pretty easy to hate people, especially those you don’t know.
The man who cuts you up in traffic. Hate him.
The woman who allows the door to slam, regardless of the fact that you’re following along right behind her. Hate her.
The ‘we’re in our own little world’ couple who suddenly stop on a busy sidewalk so you almost bump into them. Hate them.
Hate is a very strong word of course, one which shouldn’t be used lightly or trivially. And the truth is, we probably don’t actually hate the perpetrators of these social misdemeanours – we’re just cross with them. The trouble is, if you’re not careful negative observations like these have a tendency to spill out into the rest of your daily life, putting you in a bad mood, spoiling what might otherwise have been a better day.
What if we could learn from experiences like these, however? Perhaps they can be a reminder of how easy it is to slip into looking for the bad in people (and situations) meaning we have a tendency to take a negative approach instead of a positive one.
Tending to see things from a more positive perspective is actually little more than a habitual behaviour, and like most habits it can be learnt.
How? Simply by finding ways to behave differently and in the way you choose, over a long enough period. The jury’s out on exactly how long it takes to acquire a new habit. Some say 28 days, others suggest it’s a moveable feast. Most agree, though, that new habits can indeed be picked up.
So how about adopting the following small exercise designed to encourage a positive approach? Over the next few days – weeks even – rather than focusing on their faults and weaknesses, aim to look for the good in everyone you come across. This works best on the kind of occasions when you’d be forgiven for thinking the worst of them, like the guy who cuts you up in traffic.
Maybe you could find a way to admire his determination, even if only begrudgingly. You could perhaps sympathise with him in the belief that it might be having a hard time that’s causing him to behave like this. Heck, if his car’s clean you could even give him points for looking after it.
There’s usually a way to see the positive, even if it’s a bit of a struggle at times.
Why not try to see positive thinking as a kind of muscle? Perhaps the more you use it, the stronger it (and you) will get? And the tougher the exercise, the more you’ll build that muscle.