A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat on his strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
Change your beliefs
When I was a teenager I was the target of a bully at my school. One day I came home in tears and wrote this on the whiteboard hanging on my bedroom wall: “I hate bullies. They make me feel like a loser.”
The next day, while I was at school, my grandmother erased what I wrote on the whiteboard and replaced it with this: “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.”
And from that day forward I felt better. I made a conscious decision to stop letting the bully get inside my head. I changed my beliefs about his level of importance in my life.
It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control over what you choose to believe. You can effectively defend yourself against all kinds of negativity by adopting simple, yet powerful, beliefs that support a positive outlook in the face of seemingly negative circumstances.
Below you will find 15 such beliefs that have helped free me from the grips of negativity. I have these beliefs written down in my journal, and I review them on a regular basis, as needed, just to keep them fresh in my mind. I hope you will join me by adopting them into your own belief system as well…
- What other people say about me is their problem, not mine. – Don’t take other people’s negativity personally. Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality. Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you. What others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.
- I am free to be ME. – Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want. Stop living for other people and their opinions. Be true to yourself. You are the only person in charge of your life. The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it?
- Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is great. – Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement. To get up every morning and take and good look around in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is extraordinary. Every day is a gift. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. (Read The Happiness Project.)
- It’s okay to have down days. – Expecting life to be wonderful all the time is wanting to swim in an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down. However, when you recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the exact same ocean, you are able to let go and be at peace with the reality of these ups and downs. It becomes clear that life’s ups require life’s downs.
- Even when I’m struggling, I have so much to be grateful for. – What if you awoke today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday? We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but of appreciating everything we do have. Stress thrives when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness thrives when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for right now.
- Every experience is just another important lesson. – Disappointments and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. So don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. When things go wrong, learn what you can and then push the tragedies and mistakes aside. Remember, life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. We must fail in order to know, and hurt in order to grow. Good things often fall apart so better things can fall together in their place.
- Not everything is meant to stay. – Change can be terrifying, yet all positive growth and healing requires change. Sometimes you have to find the good in goodbye. Because the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong, keep taking small steps, and eventually you will find what you’re looking for. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it.
- Being wrong is the first step to being right. – Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places. To be creative and productive in life, you must first lose your fear of being wrong. And remember, a fear like this can only survive inside you if you let it live there.
- I do not need to hold on to what’s holding me back. – You are not what has happened to you; you are what you choose to become. It’s time to break the beliefs and routines that have been holding you back. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer grows you. Listen to your intuition, not your ego. When you stop chasing the wrong beliefs, you give the right ideas a chance to catch you. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- My happiness today is simply the result of my thinking. – Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but WITH YOU. It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere. Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice. Remember, you can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions, and opportunities. If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would try your best to never think another negative thought again.
- Who I spend quality time with matters. – Surround yourself with people who lift you higher – those who see the great potential in you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.
- Drama and judgments are a waste of perfect happiness. – Make a promise to yourself. Promise to stop the drama before it begins, to breathe deeply and peacefully, and to love others and yourself without conditions. Promise to laugh at your own mistakes, and to realize that no one is perfect; we are all human. Feelings of self-worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- Most people are judging me far less than it seems. – The truth is, while you’re busy worrying about what others think of you, they’re busy worrying about what you think of them. Crazy? Yes, but true. The good news is this knowledge instantly frees you to let loose and do more of what YOU want. And while doing so, you’ll also liberate others to do the same.
- I can make the world a happier place. – Do your best to help one person every day in some small way. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answers to our own. When the people around us are happier, it’s a lot easier to smile.
- The work is worth it. – Lose the expectation that everything in life should be easy. It rarely is. In fact, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Enjoy the challenge of your achievements. See the value in your efforts and be patient with yourself. And realize that patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams. It’s knowing deep down that the work is well worth it in the end.