Recently I was getting ready to start a vegetable garden for my amazing wife in our back yard. As I was staring at the area where the garden will be, my neighbor Tom walked in. “Arjun, it is all about preparing the soil. Start by de-weeding and removing all debris from the soil. Then before you plant, put down a weed barrier. A weed free garden will give you the best garden.” I thanked him for his perfectly timed advice. As he was leaving, Tom added, “Weeds are like negativity in life. They thrive on a good ground and if allowed will define your yard.”

That night, I kept reflecting on Tom’s wisdom. I realized; negativity is a weed that can easily take over our life. I reflected on situations and people in my personal and professional life and realized that I do much better when I’m in a negativity free zone. Negativity starts with a bad taste and leaves a bad after taste. It takes the fun out of any journey. As I dissected, I felt there are three areas of negativity: The surrounding or environment, people around me, and finally me. All three are mission critical, and any one of them can bring me down. And when they attack me all together, they have the power to completely derail me and get me into a feeling of depression.

So, what is the path to putting down negativity barriers in life? What is the path to a negativity free life?  Here is the 1-2-3 strategy I put in place for each of the three:

    Example: I am at a networking event where people are badmouthing my favorite golf player.
    This one is somewhat easy. The moment I see myself in a situation or environment that is turning negative, I have the power to just walk away. It is mission critical to have my negativity sensing antennas active, so I can make the exit immediately without any delay.
    Example: My best friend is in a negative zone.
    This one is tough. I do not control what others feel or say. There were times I tried to influence people’s actions by starting conversations with them. Even conversations about negativity leave a negative aftertaste. I have realized I am not responsible for other people’s actions and need to stay in my zone. So, when someone gets negative and I cannot walk away, in my mind I vanish to my happy zone. I virtually get to my favorite golf course where the fairways are beautiful and lush, the tee boxes are meticulously maintained with flowers blooming. I have a smile on my face even before I tee off. And then when my golf ball leaves the tee and flies straight out in the sky, I bring out my invisible fist pump. Life feels good. That good feeling is the negativity free soil I can plant life in and thrive. Taking my mind away and keeping it there is mission critical. I control where I take my mind to.
  3. ME
    Finally, the toughest one, is negativity within me. I am human. I accept the fact that past situations trigger emotions and often take me back to old wounds and pain. Negativity often creeps in, as the past tries to protect me and warns me about bad things that can happen in the future. I have learned to embrace my negativity and thank it for caring about me. I try to turn it into wisdom and learning that helps me move forward and not hold me back. I smile and say, “Thank you. I got it. Now put your seat belts on, sit back and see how we go on the most amazing trip.”  The moment I get away from the past, where negativity dwells, and jump into the future where positivity shines, I am excited.

I am glad Tom walked in and his wisdom connected the dots in my mind. I am now more aware of the virus of negativity existing all around me. How I navigate life around the reality of the world, is what I control. I want to only stay with what I control, as the moment I try to influence what I do not control, life gets out of hand.

If negativity is the weed that can take over my entire life if I do not remove it immediately, positivity is the sunshine in which my life thrives. I think, I can, and I will be positive.