After teaching about happiness for decades, this is the biggest question I’m asked:
“What do I do about all these negative people?”
When someone asks this, I can hear the exasperation in the voice. Perhaps you understand.
You work with a grouch who grumbles through his day.
The clerk at the pharmacy won’t crack a smile.
Your mother only calls to complain about your sister.
Your husband is cranky in the mornings, ruining your day.
If your teenager gives you another snarky look, you’re going to scream.
It seems that despite your efforts to look on the bright side, it’s just almost impossible when people around you seem intent on being down.
What should you do?
What I’ve found is that the way we try to cope with negative people doesn’t do any good, and it can often backfire.
Usually, people try to deal in one of two ways—and sometimes both:
You may try to ignore the behavior. You go about your business pretending he didn’t just complain about needing to go to the grocery store. You change the subject when your mother goes on another rant. You get your child a gift hoping to snap her out of her mood.
These are all well intended, but when you’re doing them from a place of wanting the person to change, it won’t work. They’ll know what you’re up to, and it will fuel their negativity even more.
The other tactic people tend to use is to sit the offending person down for a good ol’ talk. You think that surely you can knock some sense into them so they see what their attitude is doing to themselves and everybody else.
Nope. Nobody—and that includes you—appreciates a lecture. Instead, the person will likely dig their heels in even more.
Sigh. So what do you do? Do you just need to put up with the Debbie Downers and the Sullen Sams?
Here’s what I know works:
The reality is that in order for you to be happier no matter what’s going on around you, you need to take the focus off those people and put it on making yourself happier.
When you do this, you end up “ignoring” their behavior, but not in a way that feels manipulative to them. They won’t think you have some sort of agenda. And it will magically motivate them to get curious about what it is you’re doing differently.
When you become happier yourself, you just feel better inside. You like yourself more. And you’re not so hard on yourself.
And then, here’s the really interesting part—other people’s negativity doesn’t affect you as much!
That’s right. Because when you’ve built up a solid sense of happiness within yourself, it’s pretty hard for someone to come along and knock it down.
But the really cool result from getting happier yourself is this:
The only real way to transform the people around you is by example.
My seminar participants have told me over and over that when they’ve changed, they’ve noticed incredible transformations in everyone else, especially those they live with.
Yes, even the curmudgeon grandpa starts to soften. The stubborn daughter asks if she can help with dinner. The bitter neighbor offers to take out your trash while you’re away.
These kinds of changes happen all the time when you simply focus on making yourself happier.
Think of it this way: our outer world is really a reflection of our inner state. When you focus on the inner shifts, the outside has to follow.
So how do you do it?
How do you get so happy that the people around you can’t help but feel it?
The answer is in my program 30 Days to a Happier Life. Over the course of a month, you’ll get a new video from me every day where I’ll teach you a principle, insight, technique, or fun activity that will focus on getting YOU happier.
It’s the best kind of experiment, and I hope you’ll do it with me. As each day goes on, it’s amazing—and sometimes amusing—to watch the changes in those around you.
The program is based on what I’ve learned after interviewing hundreds of the happiest people in the world. These people did not have perfect lives or perfect people around them—on the contrary! They deal with the same stuff and negativity you do. The difference is that they know how to make themselves happy using the habits I’ll teach you in this fun program:Your Happiness Experiment
And by the way, you can do the exercises in the program without anyone knowing what you’re up to! People won’t know you’re doing anything differently, but they’ll FEEL it, and that’s where the magic happens.
With love and happiness,