Negativity is all a matter of perspective. Negative people can make any situation, no matter how great, seem like the end of the world. And positive people can make any situation, no matter how bad, seem great.
Mark Sanborn illustrates this well with a common story in his book You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference:
An old favorite joke of mine illustrates the positive attitude of a person who takes responsibility for his or her life, even in those circumstances they don’t completely control.
Twin boys were born to two happy parents. But as the children grew, the parents noticed a dramatic difference in the outlook each had on life.
One boy was completely negative. His perspective was consistently one of gloom and doom. No matter what happened, he was downhearted. He was able to find a rain cloud in the sunniest sky.
The other boy was buoyant and looked at everything positively. No matter what happened, he could find the silver lining in the darkest cloud.
The parents began to worry that each child had a problem. So one Christmas they attempted a bold experiment to try to change their son’s dispositions.
For the boy with the negative attitude, they bought the most wonderful gifts: a new bike, a train set, board games, and other fun diversions.
To the boy with the positive attitude, they gave a pile of horse manure.
On Christmas morning, the boy who was negative was led into a room containing all his wonderful gifts. But rather than being delighted, he complained, “The bike will become dirty and scratched the first time I ride it, and the other toys will break or wear out.”
Their other son, upon seeing the pile of manure, shocked his parents by instantly shouting in glee.
“Why are you so excited?” they exclaimed.
He replied, “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
My point? When something bad happens, the challenge is to search for the pony, not with the naive enthusiasm of the boy in the story but with the informed optimism of a leader.
And, of course, this is biblical:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.