The Power of Positive People

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You wake up with every intention of going to spin class straight from the office. But then you have lunch with your co-worker, who wrinkles her nose at your exercise plans and launches into a monologue about how much time and money she has wasted on workouts that don't, well, work.
Meanwhile, she orders the loaded cheese fries and complains that healthy foods are too expensive and don't fill her up. Every time you try to counter one of her complaints, there's another one right behind it—sort of like peeling away the layers of a very pungent-smelling onion.
By the time lunch is over, your motivation has taken a nosedive, and you're seriously considering canceling spin class is favor of happy hour. Besides, after all the cheese fries you just ate, what's the point?
Negativity is a powerful thing—and it's extremely contagious. If you let them, the Debbie and Donnie Downers of the world will lead you astray from your good intentions and into their world of grumbles, groans and excuses. As the old saying goes, "misery loves company."
On the other hand, if you'd been dining with an upbeat, positive co-worker who encouraged your dedication to spin class, and didn't scoff at your choice of a healthy soup and salad, you likely would have returned to the office feeling excited about your workout and proud of your lunchtime choices.

The Importance of Positive Influences

Scott Miller, EVP of thought leadership for FranklinCovey and host of the On Leadership Podcast, says there are two types of people in the world: energy infusers and energy depleters. Energy infusers leave you feeling energized and invigorated, confident in your ability to tackle the day's challenges and make headway toward your goals. The depleters, on the other hand, may leave you feeling drained and discouraged, and more likely to give up and take the less challenging—and less rewarding—path.
According to trained psychologist Lisa Sansom, research shows that there is such a thing as "emotional contagion." "This essentially means that you can 'catch' both positive and negative emotions from other people—someone else's emotional state or mood can 'infect' you and you can start to feel the same way." If you want to feel happy, motivated and energized, she notes, a smart strategy is to surround yourself with people who already possess those attributes.

How to Spot a Negative Person

As Miller points out, negative people often have a "scarce mentality," meaning they think others are out to get them or take advantage of them. "They often feel there is a limited amount of time, fame, food or resources, and they need to 'take' theirs first and quickly, before others get to them," he says. They also tend to focus more on what goes wrong in their lives, blaming setbacks for their lack of progress.
As psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic from ParentingPod points out, these types of people often find a way to put a negative spin on any comment or observation. For example, if you announce that you're training for a 5K, they might mention the potential for injury, or even question your sanity.
Negative people also tend to regard obstacles as permanent barriers to achieving their goals, Jovanovic notes. They may also lack accountability, blaming the circumstances rather than taking ownership of a problem and working to overcome it. What's more, people with a pessimistic outlook are typically resistant to change. "They develop theories of how they, people around them or the circumstances cannot be any different from what they are—and what they are is bad," says Jovanovic.
Why do some people default to negativity? Miller believes it's often due to a lack of a positive role model. "These limited paradigms may be from some specific life experiences—it could be that their parents taught them to view the world and others this way," he says. "Or maybe they've simply fallen into these ineffective life patterns and aren't self-aware enough to behave their way to a new life."

How to Spot a Positive Person

Positive people generally choose to be thankful and grateful, viewing problems as opportunities for learning and growth. They have what Miller calls an "abundance mentality," recognizing that with some resourcefulness and initiative, anything can be accomplished. "Simply put, they proactively replace negative thoughts with positive, grateful ones," Miller says.
Those with a positive mindset also recognize that they are not a product of their circumstances, but rather their own choices and actions. "They identify their values and align their mission, time, finances and life around them," Miller notes. "They set clear boundaries, and are willing to say no to 'good' so they can instead say yes to 'great.'"
Marketing director Robyn Itule notes that positive people tend to embrace a growth mindset that is focused on learning, calling to mind the saying from Nelson Mandela: "Either I win or I learn."
"The world is going to act on all of us—it will ask us to change, to shift course," Itule says. "Staying put and clinging to the status quo is a surefire way to either grow incredibly tired or lose a positive perspective. Adopting a growth mindset takes the chaos of the day-to-day and turns it into a gift to power the future. Positive people actively seek out that potential and embrace it."
Those with an upbeat attitude will also model positive behaviors, Jovanovic adds. "They are ready to invest in changing their own habits: eating healthier, exercising more, practicing self-care, building relationships with others and so on," she says. "They show you that change is possible, and are ready to encourage you and share their experiences while you are attempting to make your own change."

How to Deal With Negative People

While your initial instinct might be to coax a negative person into a brighter, happier place, Miller warns that it's difficult enough to change your own behavior, let alone someone else's. Trying to get someone to act or speak differently will likely leave you frustrated and the other person offended. Instead, try one of these smarter strategies.

Practice compassion. As Jovanovic points out, some people expect the worst of situations as a part of their survival or coping strategy. In addition, Itule tries to follow the adage: "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about." Like gratitude, compassion can have profound effects on the people around us. "Having compassion for a person with a negative attitude does you and them a favor: It saves you from their negativity having any power over your feelings, and it gives them a gift of experiencing someone acting positively toward them,” notes Jovanovic.

Be a model. Instead of wasting your energy trying to change a negative person, Miller recommends focusing on yourself, and how you speak and behave. "Be a model of what you want to see in others," he suggests. "Most people will come to see you as someone they admire and respect. Let them be drawn to positivity on their own. Seek to be a transition figure in other people's lives by being a great model of what you value. It's not easy or quick, but it's by far the best option for making an impact."

When all else fails, remove yourself from the situation. Sansom notes that negative people often drain your energy, to the point that you can actually feel it when you are around them. "It may not necessarily be what they say explicitly, and you may not quite be able to put your finger on it, but when you feel your energy starting to leave, it's time to exit and recharge," she says. "Bring yourself back to a more positive state with exercise, rest, positive social engagements or getting something done and feeling accomplished."
While it's unrealistic to expect to be optimistic and positive 24/7, Sansom notes that people who take a "glass half full" view of the world have been shown to experience greater success and growth in all areas of life. "Generally speaking, a more positive, energized approach will be better for your health, career and relationships," she says. "Seek out those positive people around you so you can 'catch' the positivity."

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EVILCECIL 9/28/2019
Having gratitude is a powerful thing. Report
JAMER123 9/18/2019
Thank you for sharing some interesting information. Report
TOKIEMOON 9/18/2019

Start each day full of gratitude and surround yourself with others who are positive. Report
GETULLY 9/17/2019
Being more positive is a choice as is being negative. I think a lot of negative people do not see themselves that way-they are pragmatic but is is self-fulfilling. Report
TRIMNUP 6/3/2019
Please God, don't let me be an "energy depleter"! Let me have "abundance mentality." Report
ANHELIC 4/6/2019
Thank you for the information. Report
LIDDY09 4/4/2019
thank you Report
CACUJIN 4/2/2019
I felt negativity in this article while reading. Not certain if it were the overall tone or the use of stereotyping in the opening scenario. Being positive always can be a downer as well. I went to school with a girl that always smiled...always. Seeing the pain in her eyes negated the smile and made it all feel disturbing. One day, she stopped coming to one seemed to notice. While being negative can harm your progress, a false positive can prove more damaging. Be honest about your feelings and seek out the positive in a bad situation. Report
DESIREE672 4/2/2019
I feel this rings true for ordinary circumstances, but I’ve heard of disaster striking a person or family and friends deserting them. Report
Scratch my last post as you cannot edit.
I posted on the feed this morning about knowing your Worth and this is true for me, my husband is negative.
My nickname for my husband is
"Dark Cloud ".
I am an outgoing positive person that can conquer goals.
I no longer allow my husbands bad habits or negativity to control me.
I know my Worth. Report
I just posted about th8s Report
MARITIMER3 4/2/2019
This is so true! My DH (love him dearly, but...) is one of the most negative people I have every known. I used to argue with him, but that does not work. Now I try to joke about it, or ignore him (which seems cruel). I, on the other hard, am positive. Makes for an interesting, if sometimes frustrating, life. Report
MAREE1953 4/2/2019
I agree!! Report
CAMIER 4/2/2019
Thank you Report
PAMBROWN62 4/2/2019
I have had to leave people behind who always respond negatively in just about every situation.

My mantra: “Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day.” This is posted on my fridge and is the first page I see when I open my journal. I believe it and I actively look for that good, every day.

I am not a Pollyanna but I do believe that positivity is a choice and you always benefit when that is the one you make. Report
BONDMANUS2002 3/31/2019
Absolutely positively Report
BONDMANUS2002 3/27/2019
Interesting Report
THETROUT 3/27/2019
This was really good! And just what I needed. I'd like to see your next blog be some examples on being positive. Report
JIMA681 3/17/2019
I do believe that some negative people don't really mean to affect us so much with a comment or response. Report
KATHYJO56 3/14/2019
I love positivity Report
KHALIA2 3/10/2019
It is just more fun to be around those who are positive than negative. Report
SUNSET09 3/8/2019
Be one to know one, SparkFriends Report
RD03875 2/20/2019
Another great article. I need to show this to a few people! Report
FANCYQTR 2/19/2019
It is so true that being with negative people breeds negativity. I have a lot of problems with negativity because I grew up around it. I am trying very hard to be more positive, but I do slip up a lot. Hopefully I am getting better because I don't like being negative. Besides, being negative drives friends away. Report
MNABOY 2/16/2019
Thanks! Report
MNABOY 2/16/2019
Thanks! Report
CHERYLHURT 2/16/2019
Thanks Report
SHOAPIE 2/14/2019
Thank you for this article. Report
FIT2FINISH 2/14/2019
Powerful article, life is full of choices. Choosing positivity, with gratefulness, humour, and compassion is a gift you can give yourself and by osmosis others 😁. Well said thanks Report
Such an important topic. Thank you for sharing. Report
CECELW 2/13/2019
It's a great article, but sometimes, I don't feel completely positive. I think we all struggle sometimes Report
AALLEY2 2/13/2019
Positively positive! Report
KITTYHAWK1949 2/13/2019
I try to be positive but find it hard at times. Thanks for article Report
DJ_514 2/13/2019
I know it's not positive to complain, I'm generally a very positive person and it's hard to get me down. Today I was very surprised when I came across this blog on SP by one of the SP bloggers related to being positive. The blogger used the term "Debbie or Donnie Downer".

Now I had no control over being named "Debbie" at birth. I would change that if I could and prevent the bullying and pain this term has caused me for the majority of my adult life. This term and ones like it are commonly used as tools by bullies to shame, demean and humiliate others. I really feel there should be no room for this on Spark People. Report
AQUAGIRL08 2/13/2019
This is a nice article! Report
PATRICIA-CR 2/13/2019
The POWER of optimism! Report
PACEKA1 2/13/2019
Oh my, I needed this today. I am living with a glass-half-empty person and it can sometimes be very challenging. He wants to change and asks for ideas from me which, of course, he rarely takes seriously. I love the idea of using compassion. Report
SPINECCO 2/13/2019
Thanks for sharing. Report
SPUNOUTMOM 2/13/2019
Good article and so true. I have 2 people who are negative in my life. 1 picked me to be her friend because I am a positive person. And I am so glad she is in my life. We balance each other out. The other is just negative and is a client at gym I work at. I try to avoid that person but likes to come in when I am working. Report
CECTARR 2/13/2019
Thanks Report
AZMOMXTWO 2/13/2019
thank you Report
PICKIE98 2/13/2019
Negative reaps nothing. Report
PINKGLOW9 2/13/2019
thank you Sparks family Blessing me with this word today Report
NEPTUNE1939 2/13/2019
ty Report
FERRETLOVER1 2/13/2019
I try to be one of those positive people and make people laugh every day if I can. Report
DMEYER4 2/13/2019
thank you for the great article Report
BOOKNUT52 2/13/2019
This is a really good article dealing with something we all face..thx Report
PAMBROWN62 2/13/2019
Positivity is ALWAYS a choice and it the one I try to make in every situation. I live by the mantra, “Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day.” I believe this and I try to look for that good.,.every day. Report
FRAN0426 2/13/2019
Enjoyed this article, being positive the the right choice Report
FRAN0426 2/13/2019
Enjoyed this article, being positive the the right choice Report