A few years ago I was part of a group that was all about productivity, growth, and success. One of the things they shared quite frequently was about how we should focus less on the negative things in life. I brought that into my life and practiced it for a while, except when I got drunk. But then I grew away from that group and shrugged my shoulders and thought I could focus on the positive while also allowing complaining and negativity back into my life. And I did, for a while. Until I realized that I was more stressed and had a more negative outlook on life than I liked.
That’s when I started taking a close look at all of the inputs into my life and realized the change I had made. Instead of making it a point to find the good in the shitty times of life, I joined in on complaining. Instead of being the person to challenge the negative way of thinking, I was afraid to challenge my friends. I didn’t want to come off as the person always trying to fix things. Instead of focusing on the mood and attitude I had around me, I became pretty fucking negative. I let drama creep back into my life and I felt it.
I feel drama and negativity to my core. It doesn’t happen immediately, rather it builds up until the damn breaks. It is uncomfortable and depressing for me. It takes a kick in the ass from some form of personal development or the damn to not only break but to explode for me to realize why I am not feeling right. I recently had that damn explode. I had been focusing on all of the negative in my life and in my friend’s lives that I had lost sight of the lighter side of myself.
I realized that the majority of conversations in my life at the time were focused primarily on the problems in life. That’s the thing, talking about our problems is one of our greatest addictions in life. It is easy to do. Negativity and seeing the shitty side of everything is so much easier to do than focusing on whatever positive might be coming from that situation. I had to break the habit. I had to overcome that addition once again and retrain myself to focus on my joys. I had to retrain myself to focus on my ambitions. And in doing so, I realized that the only way to continuously focus on turning problems into positives and focus on the joys in my life is to change who I communicate with the most.
Now, you might be asking, “why don’t you change the focus in the conversations that you currently have?” Well, I could and I have. But the focus doesn’t stay on the positive side. I have very different ambitions than those who were in the conversations I had the most. And that’s okay. Unfortunately, that’s part of life. It’s not like I hate those people, in fact, I still love them dearly. I simply need to focus on what nourishes my soul and my life.
Talking about my problems doesn’t solve them. Focusing on finding solutions or opening my mind to the possibilities of what each path could bring or giving grace before judgment is more beneficial to my life. Talking primarily about problems is a bad habit that is so easy to fall back on. I mean, isn’t that primarily what the media does, focus on the problems around us? This bad habit is all around us and we get the choice of whether or not we are going to push past it.
I talked recently about reducing my multi-tasking during the day and how much lighter I feel because of it. Well, another part of that is changing my focus and breaking the habit of talking about problems. I have changed my focus to finding solutions, finding joy, and rediscovering my ambition for everything that I want to do. And by doing so, I am less stressed and experience less anxiety.
The unfortunate part is that now I speak to some of the people I love a lot less than I used to. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I used to hate that saying and say no, I am my own unique person and it doesn’t matter who I am around the most. Until I realized that he is mostly right. I say mostly because I actually think the average includes more than just five people. We spend our time, either remotely or in person, around a lot of people. Each person we spend our time with has some kind of effect on us.
I realized that not only did I speak primarily with people who focused on the problems in life, I really didn’t speak with friends who have ambitions. There were a couple of them that I did, but those people also focused heavily on the problems. I realized that I need to meet new friends who turned their problems into solutions and who had similar ambitions to myself. Similar, but not the same.
Have you heard of the quote that has multiple variations and has been attributed to multiple authors that more or less states that if you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room? Well, I’d like to rephrase that and say “if you are the most ambitious or most positive person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” Ambition can be completely different between each of those people you keep around you. Some might have the ambition of wanting to start and grow their own business or others might want to climb the corporate ladder or some might want to retire early. If those that you keep around you have ambition but continue to primarily focus on the problems, they probably still are not the people that will push you.
Yeah, I said push you. If you want to break the habit of talking about your problems to instead focus on your joys, problem-solving, and your ambitions, you are going to need people around you who can push you. And that is exactly who I need in my life. Yes, some pretty shitty things can happen in life and life can take unexpected turns, but focusing only on the shitty parts of life and only talking about those problems will keep you stuck. I want and I NEED people in my life who can push me to focus on finding the solutions to the problems in my life. I want and NEED people in my life who want more out of life than life as it is today. I want people in my life who are willing to think bigger and outside of the box. But I also want people in my life who share my common hobbies.
I am focusing on breaking the addiction. No more primarily talking about problems. I am focusing on solutions, joys, ambitions, and fun. I am focusing on the now and the future. I am focusing on giving myself and others grace in all that we do. This sure as hell isn’t easy for me, but I want to be a better person.
Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys. Talk about your ambitions.
It may mean you need to change those closest to you or you may be the one that needs to change. Either way, change is what it will take to break the habit.