I will never forget the day, several years ago, when a close friend of mine said to me, “It’s time to change your story.” I had been harping on about my career and the damaging impact that the internet and this new breed of unpublished bloggers had on freelance writers like me. Her simple words caused me to stop and think. Was it really that bad? Had I been forced out of the business? Was my life miserable? Well, actually no…but apparently it sure sounded like that.
Upon reflection, I realized that I was actually doing fairly well considering all the changes and collapses in the publishing industry, and I loved my job. So why was everything pouring out of my mouth so negative? I made a mental note of what she said. As time rolled on, I found myself holding my tongue when I was about to deliver that same speech — the one where I’d complain about how hard it was to be a writer, how the salaries had dipped, how tired I was all the time. Instead, when I spoke about my work, I focused on all the positives — how I loved writing about wellness. How I felt so lucky to meet such interesting people and travel the world for my stories. How freelance writing had granted me a flexible schedule to raise my child. How I loved working from home in my flip-flops and yoga pants. Of course, a major shift did not happen overnight, but I can safely say that something changed over a course of a year or so. Jobs and story assignments seemed to fly my way, and suddenly I had more work than I could handle and incredible new opportunities.
I changed my story and focused on the power of positive thinking.
I first started thinking about this concept after taking a yoga and meditation retreat at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California, where Deepak Chopra lectured us daily after we meditated and did a lot of downward dogs. I am a big fan of Deepak — his mellow, honeyed voice and mind-bending intelligence are tonics to the soul. He believes that everything going on in our lives is a reflection of our personal stories. If you are surrounded by fear and anxiety, he proposes that you look inside. Not to mention, fear and negativity can cause stress — and we all know what that can do to a healthy body and mind. A simple shift to looking at the positive side of a situation versus the negative alleviated some of the stress in my own life.
And, of course, the bestselling book The Secret was all the rage with its “law of attraction” concept, repeating the same timeless message that our words and thoughts deliver to us what we asking for and thinking — that the universe is listening and responding. Is it? A lot of people seem to think so.
Author and speaker Louise Hay also believed in positive affirmations, saying that they “planted the seeds to change your life.” Spiritual guru Wayne Dwyer chimed in on the topic, too, calling the power of intention “a force in the universe that allows that act of creation to take place. And that everything and everyone is connected to it.”
If anything, positive thinking can sculpt the words that feed into our stories. But I would also say they can also change your inner world. We can all choose how we react to things — is the glass half full or half empty? By focusing on positive intentions and thoughts, we can deliver an uplifting message to ourselves and to those around us, attracting like-minded people with good energy. When you refer to yourself as living a happy, positive life, that current of thought transfers energy to another person and shapes their perception of you. Focusing on negative emotions, feelings and thoughts closes you off to the world and relationships, as most people do not want to hang around negatively charged people.
So take a moment to review your own story. Are you living up to your potential? Are you truthful in your feelings and thoughts? How are you projecting yourself to others? Is the negative outweighing the positive? Are you a broken record like I was? We all know how easy it is to spiral down into the negative, so watch your words.
And if you need to, change your story. I think you’ll be surprised by the positive rippling effect that follows.
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Journalist Ann Wycoff has written about wellness, fitness, longevity, travel, spas, food and wine for the past 20 years for magazines like Shape, Fitness, Spa, Outside, Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Redbook, Modern Luxury, San Diego Magazine, Redbook, Marin Magazine and more. She lives in Encinitas, California.