Here in Malaysia a new lock down was announced just last week and with just 2 days and limited information to prepare for this lock down, a lot of people felt anxious, frustrated and overwhelmed.  Just before the lock down struck, our team came together to watch an interview with Simon Sinek in which he shared the importance of staying optimistic and what that means for leaders.

We all have probably heard people say that we should get rid of the negativity in our surroundings. Ditch friends, remove them from your Facebook, or better yet, remove yourself from Facebook all together and of course, read less news because that’s also all negative.

Instead, “they” say, we should all focus on being positive, happy, smile and ignore the sadness and other negative emotions. The following video reminded me just how important positivity can be, and the impact it can have on others.

Being too happy

Whilst it might be true that we should all be more positive, I was confronted with my own happiness a couple of years ago.  Back then, I was still actively practicing yoga. That given day one of my teachers sat down in front of the class. I actually sat on the first row and almost directly across from him. After a long silence he lifted up his head and said, I hate when this happens. The class looked rather puzzled and wasn’t sure what he meant. He continued to say that he had plans for this class and these plans were not meant to be because he felt we were too happy.  The shock was felt throughout the class and I’m sure most were even more puzzled at this point. Is there such a thing as being too happy?

What I learned then about positivity and negativity is that they are two sides of the same coin. As much as negative people can be attached to negativity and dwell in the misery they see in their lives, on the other side, positive people can attach themselves too much to the positive side and become almost delusional with the real world, completely forgetting that we human beings all have emotions and these emotions need to be experienced and expressed.

Simon Sinek offers an interesting perspective by focusing on optimism. The dictionary describes optimism as: a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.

This doesn’t mean you cannot feel sad, down or frustrated. Having optimism simply means holding on to the thought that all will work out fine in the end. Since we as human beings are designed with all emotions deeply ingrained into our system, focusing on optimism gives us the permission to feel whatever feeling that comes up and not let it influence your journey ahead.

So how do you stay optimistic?

Staying optimistic isn’t easy when the world throws you a curve ball.

  1. Be real with yourself, take some time and allow yourself to feel your emotions
  2. Be authentic with others. We all feel sometimes that we have to be someone we’re not. Being authentic simply means having the courage to say what’s going on for you right now.
  3. Remember your purpose. We are all here to serve a bigger goal. A goal that adds meaning to other people’s lives. In challenging times remember this North Star to keep yourself looking at the bigger picture.
  4. Focus on helping others. When we do things for others we automatically start feeling more humble.
  5. End your day with gratitude. A simple reminder to yourself to be thankful each day will likely put a smile on your face and help you start the next day with a renewed energy.

I am positive that we will find a new normal and hopefully one where leaders can remain mostly positive and are allowed to feel otherwise. Let’s stay optimistic together!

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