Focusing on the Positive Reshapes Your Outcomes
By Tonya Twitchell
In my home, there is a sign that reads, “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.” This sign serves as a constant, daily reminder that the expectations and assumptions we bring to each moment matter. They shape our energy levels and excitement. They shape our ability to see and tap into solutions and possibilities. They shape our willingness to grant forgiveness and grace when we and others misspeak or misstep.
Where in your life is it easy to be optimistic and energetic about the moment you are about to step into? Where in your life is it more challenging, perhaps seemingly impossible, to assume and expect that something “wonderful” can and will occur? When was the last time you approached a potentially challenging conversation, meeting or interaction with the certainty and knowingness that something positive would inevitably result?
In our lives we all tell stories. We tell stories about events, about ourselves and others, and about what is—or is not—possible in our lives. What we forget, at times, is that the stories we tell are self-created—and often self-fulfilling—and are based upon the assumptions and expectations with which we start. What we forget is that there are always multiple versions of every story. There are multiple ways that the story can be told and multiple ways that each moment can play out. The origins of our stories are our expectations and assumptions; the outcomes and results that become possible are shaped and molded in the moments before we step into the actual moment itself.
The assumptions that we bring to each new moment either point us toward possibilities or they position us toward struggle and lack. They either remind us that we are powerful, capable, creative beings or they defeat us, and others, before we even begin. Reflect upon a difficult conversation you recently had with an important person in your life. This person might be a customer, co-worker, relative, or spouse. Think about how you prepared to step into that conversation. What were your assumptions and expectations about the other person, his or her perspective and the outcome that might result? What did you assume would be present in that conversation? For example, were you expecting that person to be angry, withdrawn or combative? How did you expect that you would feel during and after that interaction? Taking this one step further, what were you feeling in those moments before the conversation? What physical sensations did you experience? What were you thinking? How were you sitting or standing? What was your energy level? How certain were you that you could “solve” or appropriately address whatever needed to be resolved?
Now imagine that you could go back in time and reset or redo those preparatory moments. Imagine that you assumed “the wonderful.” Say the word “wonderful” out loud and notice what your body automatically wants to do. Did you just smile? Perhaps feel a bit lighter or more open? How much more energy, certainty and positivity might you have been able to bring to that moment if you had expected nothing less than “wonderful” rather than whatever mindset you chose by default?
Focusing on “the wonderful” does not make challenges or obstacles go away. Focusing on “the wonderful” does not guarantee that life—or even that moment—will be wonderful or great. Focusing on “the wonderful” is not a magic pill or magic formula. Focusing on “the wonderful” is simply a way to give yourself and others a fighting chance. The next time you notice yourself assuming or setting an expectation, I invite you to choose “the wonderful” over what your current default assumptions may be. Allow honoring yourself and your possibilities in a different, more intentional way. Discover for yourself the physiological, energetic and psychological differences that exist when we step into a moment focused on positive outcomes (“the wonderful”) versus negative outcomes or a less intentional default state.
As a mentor of mine once reminded me, in our lives most of our suffering is of our own making. Much of our suffering occurs in the moments when we are making up a story or forgetting that another version of the story could exist. As you prepare to step into your very next moment, allow for honoring and championing yourself and your possibilities. Position yourself for success, choose “the wonderful,” and suffer only when it is truly appropriate, and only after you have exhausted all other possible versions of the story. Assume your “wonderful” is waiting and allow yourself to relish and enjoy and celebrate the moments when it is!