There sure is an abundance of negativity surrounding us on any given day.  Tune into the media online or in print, and the headlines compete for your attention using shock factor.  Listen to the conversations while in line for coffee, at the water cooler or in the breakroom and the amplified “he said, she said” drowns out accomplishments and compliments. Don’t even get me started on the Presidential campaign. Since when did so many of us become so hungry to discover the next scandal that our values are lost in competing to be “right” and for ratings?  It can be hard to remember how many things in our lives we should be grateful for when we are constantly reminded of all that is wrong in our world.  When we allow “leaders” to divide us, we lose a sense of freedom by conforming to their less-than-appealing behaviors.  I think that it is time to tap into the innate sense of kindness that kids so often demonstrate yet adults tend to forget. Here’s how we can move in that direction.

#1 – Practice Being Positive

All it takes is one person saying something negative – a complaint, a criticism, a judgement – and we find ourselves spiraling into an abyss of pessimism.  Being positive requires real discipline and lots of practice. We must be intentional about training our minds (and our inner voice) to tune out negative energy and tap into all that is good about the people, places and things around us. At the end of every day, reflect on three positive things that you encountered and share them with people around you. Overtime, you will have trained yourself to seek out the positive and as a result, your moments of gratitude will multiply.

#2 – Pick Your Tribe Wisely

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn states, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” We must choose wisely who we are spending our time with.  Just pause and reflect on your five and then consider how they influence you – your actions, your thoughts, your decisions – if you don’t like what comes to mind, take control of who you are spending your time with day to day. Seek out people that motivate you, inspire you, challenge you and bring out the best in you.

#3 – Focus on Strengths

Focusing on our strengths is not a new concept; breathing life into the concept is where it gets tricky for many of us. From the time we were little, we were told to work harder in the areas we were weakest instead of investing more time and attention to the areas where we excelled. The result is that we, along with many of our managers, call out our weaknesses instead of celebrating and leveraging our strengths. When we put our strengths to work as Marcus Buckingham advises, we accelerate our performance and achieve results that often surprise ourselves and wow our critics.

#4 – Prioritize Creativity Over Competition

When we zero in on strategies to compete with others, we often look for ways to “one up” them which leads to incremental change over time. By prioritizing creativity over competition, we direct our attention to creating something new that adds value to others. Creativity can break through boundaries that many of us believe to be permanent. It can challenge our assumptions and lead to a ripple effect of innovation that opens new doors for ourselves and our organizations.

#5 – Explore Others’ Stories

Agents of change don’t just tap into creativity; they approach each day with empathy for others. They strive to explore the stories of those that they encounter, revealing their dreams and aspirations along with their fears and self-imposed barriers. Change agents listen to words spoken and explore that which is left unsaid. In understanding the diverse views of those around them, they make connections that many fail to discover.  It is in actively listening to each other without jumping to judgments, assuming negative intent, or interrupting to impose our views that we truly understand each other and can collectively reach our full potential.