December 4, 2023

Make 2024 Your Best Year by Turning Negatives into Positives

Follow these four strategies for turning negative experiences into positives to start living your why in 2024.

“The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones,” said neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson. Studies have shown that the brain’s electrical activity increases when focusing on negative stimuli. We vividly remember negative events more than we do positive ones. We also give more importance or weight to the negative occurrences in our lives. 

It’s not because we’re gluttons for skepticism or that we love to dwell on the potential for bad outcomes. Our tendencies can be traced back to our primitive existence when we had to register threats or avoid danger to survive. Humans who were attuned to danger (or negative stimuli) survived longer and passed on their genetic abilities. 

So what do we do with the “why” behind these tendencies? Our best defense is an offense, as they say. We have to work at thinking positively and practice gratitude every day. 

  1. Daily meditation – Set aside time to reflect on what you’re fighting for every day. What can you do to keep your fight top-of-mind so every decision is guided by your positive purpose throughout the day? For instance, is your fight lifting up your team members so they can be present for their people? Is your fight answering the call when someone asks you to step up and lead in a way that adds value? Or is your fight about staying focused on excellence in everything you do? Reflecting on these thoughts regularly is a great foundation for your offense. 
  1. Actively watching – I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of active listening. The same holds true for active looking. Watch for examples of positivity in your day and reinforce them by writing them down or sharing with others. Best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor talks about the importance of positive recall and reliving your appreciation of happy moments—both big and small. 

    Named after the repetitive video game, the Tetris effect occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts. Achor says the same can be applied to gratitude. Reliving the happy moments creates a positive patterning. 
  1. Find the good in what you get – You know I like to focus on what you can control, but when something is out of our control, we have to find the good in what we get. This strategy reminds me of a conversation I had with my son, Stevie. 

    He’s ten years old and wanted a dog so badly, but we discovered after testing him that he’s allergic to them. We were out at lunch after learning about the test results, and he said it’s just as well because his best friend who’s also allergic to dogs wouldn’t have been able to come over to our house if we had gotten a pet. I was blown away by his positive spin on something potentially negative. 
  1. Intentional tuning – In our society, we’re exposed to so much outside of our control, such as social media, news media, and information that’s actually sensationalism. Today we have to intentionally tune in to what we can control in our daily lives; otherwise, we feel unmoored for not having the ability to manage what we hear or do something about it. That’s not to say you can’t do something; it’s more about the volume of exposure to crises, bad news, and events you’re hearing or watching. You can get active in your home or local community; just be aware that if you aren’t discerning about your input, it can get overwhelming. 

Even though we’re wired for survival and overcoming danger, when we intentionally focus on the positive, our brains generate serotonin and dopamine—two chemicals that help us feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment. 

It’s worth the effort to practice these four strategies. Make them part of your morning, midday, or evening routine. Time of day doesn’t matter. What matters is committing to them. Let positive patterning wash over you, and begin to enjoy the benefits in the new year. Your body and brain will thank you, and your friends and family will notice too. Most importantly, you’ll make more room for focusing on your purpose.

Live your why, 


P.S. Speaking of practicing gratitude, I’d like to share TWO BIG moments of appreciation at this time when we bring 2023 to a close. 

The first is for all the people in my life who helped shape me so that I could receive the Syndeo Institute’s Cable Hall of Fame honor. To say that I’m moved by this recognition as an inductee is an understatement. 

The second moment of appreciation is for the incredible community that has followed my journey as an author and speaker over the last few years. It’s been a privilege to share my story and discover camaraderie with so many who identify not only with my failures but also with my redemptive pathways.

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