When most people think of the word success, they think of it in connection to their career or a sporting event. I used to be part of that group, but experience and age have taught me that limiting my definition of success, robbed me of the joy of life. I now think of the word success as all encompassing. I think of living a successful life.

Sure, career is an important component, but also being a successful husband, parent, grandparent and friend are just as important to me as my career. At this stage in my life, I want to be happy and joyful, which is now my real definition of success.

What we look for, we usually find.

I am an eternal optimist and I am proud of it. I am always bewildered by pessimists. I understand that being one or the other is a choice we make. I will never understand why someone would choose to look for and expect the worst in life. Yes, being an optimist sometimes leads to temporary disappointment, but pessimism almost always guarantees it.

I always think of life as an Asian Ying-Yang. You’ve seen them before. A perfect circle where each half is a mirror image of each other. One is white and one is black. I believe it is a perfect representation of life, where half is negative, and half is positive.

I don’t live a “Pollyannaish” life where I pretend everything is good, clean, pure and positive. I fully acknowledge the famine, disease, poverty, tragedy, hate and evil in the world. To ignore it and act as if it doesn’t exist is naïve. To pretend it doesn’t exist puts us at risk of falling into it. I see it, understand it but avoid it like a contagious plague … because that is what it is.

I acknowledge it all but choose to live my life in opposition. It is the optimists who create solutions to overcome the negative in the world, while it is the negative that is always the enemy of the positive.

Healthoprep.com states that “positive thinking encourages strong relationships as it is healthier to think positive thoughts and express positive emotions towards each other.”

That sounds like a no-brainer but its not that simple. If you line up a hundred random but negative thinking people and ask them if they are positive, almost all will say yes. We usually recognize the negativity in others but rarely in ourselves.

So how do we change our outlook from negative to positive? Choose to do so. It takes a conscious decision and an action plan to make it happen.

“I feel good! I am healthy, positive and happy! I love my family! I love my job! I will succeed in the task ahead!” To many, it sounds silly, but the voice inside our heads is our worst enemy and when we listen closely, that voice sounds eerily like ours. No other person has the power of influence over our attitude more than ours. The first step to living a positive life is to say positive things about ourselves.

I ask you this often, but what is the voice inside your head saying about you? Is it encouraging and positive? Or is it discouraging, negative and damaging to your future?

You may think me crazy, but I start my day saying, “It’s a beautiful day full of opportunities for success and happiness! I feel Super-Fantastic and I’m getting better! I am happy, successful and joyful! I am a force for good!” I can go on, but I am sure you get the picture.

So if you truly want to change, who you are, what you are or where you are in your life … if you want to become happier and healthier … if you’d rather be positive and optimistic … change what goes into your mind and begin with what you say to yourself. To you … no person is more influential than you. Others cannot determine your happiness and success unless you allow them.

Positive self-talk is number one, but what is next?

Examine everything that you allow into your mind. What are you watching on television or at the movies? Is it positive and uplifting? Will it positively enhance your life? If not, stop wasting your time. What are you reading? Again, ask yourself the same questions. I will humbly suggest that reading this column weekly is a good start!

Who are you hanging around? Do your friends encourage or discourage you? We become a blend of the 10 people you spend the most time with. Do you want to be like them? If not, maybe you need to choose your relationships more wisely.

The power to become who you want to be is within your hands. Living a positive life attracts positive outcomes. It is worth the effort.

Will you join me?

— Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at garywmoore.com.

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