The Power of Practicing Positive Assumptions

The holiday season can conjure up feelings of warmth, joy and happiness.  It also can bring frustration over family gatherings, anger over long lines or even road rage in trying to get the closest parking spot!  The practice of having positive assumptions about family, coworkers and even people you encounter but don’t really know, can be powerful during the holidays and leave you feeling happier overall.

Let’s start with defining what having positive assumptions looks and feels like.  This practice requires that you stop any negative thoughts about others in all situations and rather replace those thoughts with positive assumptions about people.  For example, if someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store you could be mad or you could think…

…maybe they are late for an appointment?

…maybe they truly didn’t see me standing here or that the line actually winds clear back there?

While this may sound like naive thinking, if it keeps you in a positive mindset and does not get your blood boiling, then in my opinion, it works!  Getting mad, frustrated or stressed out during the holidays over things others do only impacts you.  These people are coming into and out of your life within a short period of time.  It’s just not worth the frustration.

Another situation to consider, a cashier made a mistake in ringing up your order.  You could say:

“Hey I think you screwed up here and overcharged me.”  OR

“Something doesn’t seem right here.  Can you please take another look?”

The people working with the public at this time of year must deal with a lot.  This includes cashiers, waiters, waitresses, service providers and delivery people.  Their hours are longer, they work more days and they might be running on empty.  Let’s not forget to add that this year they are also having to wear masks, sanitize at every turn and are just trying to stay healthy for them and their families at home.  Having positive assumptions about people you interact with in public could just make their entire day.  That’s pretty powerful.  Make an effort to be the bright spot to each person you meet and you will be amazed at the positivity that comes back to you!

Generally speaking, 95% of people in the world are good people with good intentions.  Unfortunately, most of the world focuses on protecting themselves from the 5%ers.  These 5%ers do just what is necessary to get by and will play the system scrupulously.  I know you’ve seen them.  They are the people who:

  • steal a parking spot that you’ve been waiting for
  • cut in line at the store
  • beg for money and then buy cigarettes
  • lie about their situation to get what they want

These people are not worth your frustration.  They are not going to change.  Instead, find a way to let go of any feelings of anger when you encounter them and instead think of how you hope they can find a better way some day.  And then move on!

Now that we’ve discussed having positive assumptions with people you don’t know, let’s move on to how to practice positive assumptions with your family, friends and coworkers.  Sometimes having positive assumptions about the people we interact with often is the hardest.  This is because we know them better and they know us better as well.  When it comes to family, I think there can be a feeling of, they have to love me because I’m a blood relative.  Knowing each other’s flaws can also lead to being able to push buttons with family and even coworkers.  This can get you in to trouble fast.  The principles of having positive assumptions with family, coworkers and friends are the same as if you were dealing with the public.  We need to extend grace to those we work with and care about too.  The only difference is that if we sense something is wrong, we need to talk about it and not ignore it.  Again, you might just be the highlight in their day if you take the time to show care instead of intolerance. 

I’m looking forward to the holidays this year and hope you are too.  Keeping a positive mindset during a pandemic and finding creative ways to still celebrate while staying healthy is the key to going into the new year with a feeling of happiness and fulfillment.  I challenge you to make this holiday season your most positive assumption filled one yet.  Try it out this week and come back to share your comments about your interactions.  I’d love to hear about your results!

~Natalie

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