Words are a funny thing. Move them around like letters on a Scrabble board and you come up with a completely different meaning.
I was recently reminded of this the other night while watching the late night television weather forecast.
“Tomorrow,” said the announcer, “will be mostly cloudy.”
Thinking about his words, I asked myself, what is the difference between ‘mostly cloudy’ and ‘partly sunny’? Aren’t they really the same thing? How about ‘mostly sunny’ or ‘partly cloudy’? If I go stand out in the yard, can I tell a difference? I seriously doubt I – or anyone else – could differentiate between the two.
But it is important to recognize that each is essentially the same outcome — but one skews to a positive, while the other not so much.
We all know people who walk around with a cloud of negativity surrounding them. As a matter of fact, many times we can almost see their dark clouds as they walk across a room. Slumped shoulders, eyes down, and a their face in a frown even when in park. Why should be surprised when the open their mouth and their words support our suspicions?
On the other hand, some people are referred to as having a ‘sunny disposition’ or generally in a positive place. Not to say they are mindlessly bliss or walking around ignoring the reality of the world around them, but rather they choose to look and address the world with a positive or constructive point of view. And this is a good thing, research shows.
According to a report published by the Huffington Post / UK, people who view life with a ‘sunny disposition’ tend to live longer, healthier lives.
“When I started working with centenarians, I thought we’d find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery. But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life,” said lead scientist Nir Barzilai, director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research in New York.
“Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up.”
I guess the good news about a positive attitude is that research tells us that it is a learned behavior. Yes, some people are naturally ‘sunny’, but scientists say we can will (or teach) ourselves to move from a ‘mostly cloudy’ to ‘partly sunny’ attitude if we’ll just make a conscious effort to do so.
We can make changes to the people we hang around with or choose to do work with on projects. Or we can think carefully before we speak rather than simply react with a gut reaction. Changing our behavior only happens over time – and we should use that to the best of our ability.
That said, I guess I’ll just need to step outside tomorrow and make my own assessment of the weather. I’m pretty sure the sun will be out there for me somewhere.
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