Column: Focus on the positive


A popular song, written in 1944 during World War II, “Accentuate the Positive,” was a big hit recorded by Perry Como, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and the author of the lyrics, Johnny Mercer.

The words are just as relevant today as they were when they were written: You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mister-in-Between. You’ve got to spread joy to the maximum, bring gloom down to the minimum.

I thought of this song recently while reading an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “For the New Year, Say No to Negativity.” It suggested going on a low-bad diet to eliminate the negative effect, the tendency for bad events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones.

How do you feel when someone criticizes you? Notice how that feeling lingers longer than when you are praised?

Studies show that older people are typically more contented than younger people because they’ve learned how to improve the “positivity ratio” in their lives.

Here are suggestions for your low-bad diet:

  • Do no harm. Avoiding bad is more important than doing good.
  • Put the bad moments to good use. Override your bad reaction and look for a useful lesson.
  • Capitalize on the good moments and then live them by telling someone.
  • Remember the Rule of Four:  it takes four good things to overcome one bad thing.

Good luck on your low-bad diet!