We all want to ensure that life is positive not just for us, but for those around us.
As much as is humanly possible, anyway.
We all have our own versions of positivity. They are closely linked to our internal narratives of who we are, how we lead our lives and what we believe in. While we try not to force our narratives on others around us, we have to remember that while we might see things in a certain way, it doesn’t guarantee that this will be the experience of others.
Positivity lies in the eye of the beholder.
That is a difficult thing for many people to accept. Including myself, I suppose. When you are a naturally optimistic and positive individual, you go about your life with an energy and zest that you hope will sweep others along with you. It is easy to put on those rose-tinted specs and assume that others share your perspectives, but this is far from always the case.
Rather than power forwards on a wave of positivity, it is often worth looking around you at regular intervals and understanding the true impact of your “positive” actions on those around you. Are they really positive and are they really having the desired effect or is that just in your head?
The value of micro-interactions to test the reception of your positive attitude cannot be underestimated. If you value those around you, it is worth regularly checking that you are on the same page. The power of the crowd is greater than any individual.
These checks and balances help to keep positivity on the right track.
To give a personal example, my wife is considering entering another Ironman event. She has done various endurance events over the years, and as always, I want to support her as much as possible. This time however, life is more complicated due to her work commitments and the growing needs of our family and so I focused my energy on “positively” encouraging her to prepare by organising her time in a structured way. I talked about training plans and timetables that would enable her to fit in the preparation she needs to do, whilst not compromising her other commitments.
Except this didn’t help and actually had the opposite effect.
Friends commented that my “help” seemed to be hindering her decision-making process and that my actions were perceived to be acting ‘against’ her rather than ‘for’ her.
Of course, this suggestion devastated me – working against her is the last thing I wanted to do, but I can see the truth of it. At the time, she didn’t object, but I can now see that I should have “checked in” to see if my brand of positivity was making a difference. Her perception was different to mine, but she knew that I was trying to help, so she put up with it.
When we want to make a difference in the world, it is well worth checking on a regular basis (with a wide range of people) whether that difference is having the desired effect.
Keeping a positive outcome on track with micro-interactions is the best way to make the most of our relationships in life. I know that I will try harder in the future and will never stop listening to other people’s opinions.
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury