Minimalism #5 Avoiding Negativity


If you are pursuing becoming a minimalist  you might have come under fire for it. Others don’t see why you would want to have less when you could have so much more. You must be lazy or not want to work for all that stuff. You have to be weird not to want it all.

This brings up a whole new subject. A simple life doesn’t just mean having less stuff. It means having less negativity as well. Most people that are leading a life of minimalism also want peace and calm in their life. They don’t want someone that is always negative fill their ears with misery. So how do you avoid negativity? It seems simple right?

Avoiding the negative is not always easy. Sometimes you get trapped like at work when everyone starts complaining about the weather and it just snowballs from there until you are all convinced that the day couldn’t get any worse.

* Don’t jump on the whiner wagon.  If someone starts a negative conversation at work immediately counter with a positive. For example, someone complains about the rain. Your response is: The great thing about rain is that it never stays around and it always makes everything so green. My flowers will love it. Or: I just go home and fix a cup of tea and listen to the rain on the roof. It’s very peaceful.  For every complaint accept the challenge to find something positive. You may get a little teasing at first about being the always cheery guy but soon your coworkers, friends, and family will get the idea that if they want to talk like that you will not be a willing participant. Be prepared with responses when you know a situation is likely to come up. When in doubt just walk away.

*Compliment instead of criticize.  This works well in every situation and once you get the hang of it you will be comfortable using it all the time. Start by randomly complimenting strangers or  an acquaintance.  Tell them you like an article of clothing, their hair, or thank them for their kindness.  This may not feel genuine at first but soon you will find that complimenting others makes a difference in their day. You create a whole new positive just by noticing them. Move onto people at work by telling them how much you value the good work that they do. You can even find a way to do this with people that don’t give their best. Find one thing that they do well and tell them how much you appreciate it. This sets off a new mindset in the workplace. When we use positive reinforcement with others they usually react by wanting to do more for us or their job. If you tell your supervisor that you like the fact that they are always mindful when they are on the floor they will rise to the occasion and BE more mindful on the job. Positive reinforcement will always accomplish more than criticism. Try it.

*Social Media Negativity.  Have you even noticed that when a celebrity gets on Twitter and says something outrageous or negative they get a whole lot more attention than when they say something positive? Misery loves company and controversy sells. It is sad that’s the way we work but it’s true. Will it make you feel goo? Will you have peace and calm? No. Before I realized this phenomenon I would get sucked in on Facebook and be angry by the time I turned the computer off. There is a term that is used that’s called “sliming”. When we tell a negative story, spread the news of tragedy, or dramatically criticize, we slime people. Social media is filled with it and it gets attention so that they don’t feel invisible. That’s negative reinforcement. It doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and others have built-in filters that you can adjust so that you don’t have see someone’s news that is always negative. If someone is particularly negative the majority of the time you might want to ask yourself why you associate with them.

* Show me who you run with and I’ll show you who you are.  In my teen years my mother used to use this one on me and it seemed a bit silly and parental at the time. It wasn’t long before I knew what she meant. Those people we surround ourselves with are a direct reflection upon ourselves and we have to make good decisions about who our friends will be.  This is not to say that we should judge everyone based on their outside appearance but on who they are as a person. Someone that consistently steals, lies, cheats, or hurts people is not someone that you want to call a best friend. Find authentic people that are honest, humble, and kind. It’s a simple formula that will benefit you all of your life.  People aren’t perfect and they can make mistakes but look for these three qualities and forgive once in a while.  It is worth it.


Making the effort to avoid negativity and enjoy less chaos is not always easy but it is worth seeking out the positive. Enjoying the peace and calm of a simple life is what many of us long for and it is there for the taking.