Positive or Negative?

By Zig Ziglar

August 12, 2020 5 min read

As a general rule, America divides itself into three groups: The positive, the negative and the realists. It is my complete conviction that those who are optimistic and positive really are the realists.

To begin with, my 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary does not contain the word "pessimist," although it does contain the word "optimist." The pessimist and negativism are relative newcomers, created possibly by the super communications systems we have developed in the last 150 years. Much of the news featured in the media is of a negative nature.

As a matter of fact, J. Allan Petersen, in his publication, "Better Families," says, "There is a pervading negativism that has infected and affected us all. Humanity is prone to a negative mental attitude."

Conversation is too often negative, critical and gossipy, which spreads like wildfire among friends and associates. This kind of negative talk is more destructive, over the long haul, than we can imagine. It's still true that "one bad apple spoils the bunch," but the good news is that one upbeat, motivated, enthusiastic individual who smiles and has a cheerful disposition can raise the sights and feelings of those around him or her.

I have made the observation that negative thinking, which I refer to as "stinkin' thinkin," is more catching than the flu. One individual sharing a negative observation in a group brings out the negative thoughts of everyone present, which can lead to a serious pity party. On the other hand, a positive comment from even one person can also light the fire of other positive thoughts, and the first thing you know, an optimistic group of people are talking in a positive vein. Since no one has ever proven that negative thinking produces better results than positive thinking, obviously, positive thinking is the more desirable.

Dr. Petersen goes on to say, "Research shows that for every one negative thing you say to a child, you must say four positive things to keep the balance." And yet, too often we emphasize the flaws and failures. We are too slow to praise. That's sad, because many people have commented that a sincere compliment restarts their batteries and keeps them running for days at a time. That's important, because very few people will continue to work in a negative environment if they have other options.

In this tight labor market, brought about by our booming economy, to have a productive person leave is very expensive. To replace the productive person, you must advertise, interview many people, go through the time and expense of testing and qualifying, and so on, before a suitable replacement can be found. A positive environment, a simple "thank you for a job well done," an upbeat, friendly approach are all positive, friend-making processes that will reduce turnover and improve the bottom line.

We need to go back to the positive phrases that have lifted people out of the doldrums for years, statements like, "If life hands you a lemon, make yourself lemonade," "In every cloud there is a silver lining," and so on. Dr. William James, the father of psychology, says that the most important discovery of our time is that we can affect our lives by changing our attitudes. He points out that attitude is a choice; we can literally choose to look at things in a positive vein or choose to look at things in a negative vein. The more we take the negative approach and discuss our problems and the difficulties in society, the more problems we will have to discuss. It's amazing what taking the more optimistic approach will do to improve our own personal lives, our family lives and society in general.

The message is clear. Far more people win with the positive approach, so take it, and I really will see you — and society — at the top!

To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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