Identify a positive counterfact
I start each weekday morning with a brief meditation, and last week one minute into the meditation, the app crashed and my phone went to the lock screen. I tried again. Same thing. One more time. Same thing. Different app. Same thing. I started googling (on my laptop, since my phone kept crashing). Did a soft reset. Tried apps. Crashed again. Did another soft reset. Crashed again. Turned the phone off. Started up. Crashed again. Twice. Blood pressure rising, kept googling. Found a blog post in which I learned others had experienced the same problem that weekend. I installed the update, which seemed to take forever, and 45 minutes after I started my Monday morning, I was back in business, though definitely out of whack. Ugh.
I was frustrated yet I worked hard to keep things in perspective. I wrote a list, which helped me feel better.
I'm grateful I wasn't in a hurry.
I'm grateful I found a solution.
I'm grateful I have a smart phone and a laptop.
I'm grateful this didn't happen when I was doing something important.
I'm grateful this doesn't happen to me often.
Why did I take the time to write the list? Because in my Happiness Hour and The Power of Positivity programs, I teach about the power of the positive counterfact. I learned this from Shawn Achor in one of the best books I've ever read, The Happiness Advantage. Here's what he says: "We actually have the power in any given situation to consciously select a counterfact that makes us feel fortunate rather than helpless. And choosing a positive counterfact, besides simply making us feel better, sets ourselves up for the whole host of benefits to motivation and performance we now know accompanies a positive mindset. On the other hand, choosing a counterfact that makes us more fearful of the adversity actually makes it loom larger than it really is."
This is not about lying to ourselves, ignoring reality or focusing on fake news. Rather, it's about choosing where we put our attention and recognizing that even when a situation is crummy we can find some good in it.
It was a pain that it happened. I didn't accomplish everything I intended to accomplish that morning. I was annoyed. Those are facts.
I wasn't in a hurry. I have a smart phone and a laptop. I've never had my phone do that to me before. Those are positive counterfacts.
If I accomplish only one thing in this lifetime I hope it's to help others understand that we always, always, always have a choice.
Something crummy happening? Choose to identify a positive counterfact to make you feel fortunate. And focus your attention there.
Photo by Johannes Wredenmark on Unsplash