I had a lesson in being positive when I moved my family into to our new house. I moved my family of 7—8 if you count the dog—one block over from our house of ten years to a larger house to meet our growing family’s needs. It was only one block…no big deal, right? Wrong! We moved into our current house before we had a family. I remember advocating for a moving truck back then and my husband reluctantly agreeing. At that time, we only had to combine items from two and half apartments. The half included a storage unit located out of state, which is the only reason that I think that I won the argument to hire movers. After 10 years, 3 kids and whole houseful of stuff later, my husband was in full agreement that we would hire a moving company to move our family this time.
So early Saturday morning on moving day, a team of four movers arrived promptly at 8:30 a.m. Because we were only moving one block over, we took a few shortcuts on our packing. We had old stuff, new stuff, big stuff, small stuff…we had a gentleman’s bureau that weighed close to 350 pounds and we had tiny bins of toys for my children. In sum, we had 12 hours worth of stuff to move that day. In counseling children, teens and adults, I often teach clients how to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts in order to life a happier life. This team of men demonstrated how to maintain a positive attitude throughout. Here are the lessons that I learned from them.
- THEY CONNECTED TO REMAIN POSITIVE: They arrived and introduced themselves with a smile and were personal in how they managed each other and their work. When they needed to move a very large piece of furniture together, they used each other’s names and coached each other through the hardest, heaviest moments.
- THEY USED POSITIVE LANGUAGE. They did not complain. At various difficult times during the move, I heard them say to each other, “It all good, we’re all good.”
- THEY WERE POSITIVELY UNITED. They worked together. If one person was struggling with an item, the other team member would rush over and firmly and warmly reassure his teammate, “I’m here to help you. Tell me.”
- THEY WERE ACTIVE, POSITIVE COMMUNICATORS. They communicated with each other before they tackled a hard task. For example, when they gathered together to carry my grandfather’s 1967 cabinet stereo system that likely weighs almost 400 pounds, they synced up about their plan, they reviewed the details of their strategy and they talked through the exact steps of how they planned to execute the move.
- THEY SPOKE IN “YES” LANGUAGE. Rather than criticize or make statements about how they couldn’t push any harder, they would say, “Let me give you a push, I’m here for you. I’m listening.”
- THEY ACTIVELY & INTERNALLY COACHED THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER. They welcomed a challenge. This piece seemed to be a mindset first and foremost. “If there is something difficult to do, then I welcome the challenge and I believe that I can do it.”
- THEY HELD A POSITIVE INTENTION & FOCUS. They remained focused on the task at hand. They were tasked to move just one thing at a time—or perhaps several boxes at a time—but they weren’t doing anything else other than moving because that is what was required in order to get the job done right.
- THEY DEMONSTRATED GRATITUDE. They were grateful and sincere. Our job lasted several hours longer than expected, and they didn’t turn against us or each other negatively. Instead, they turned toward each other for support and fun to get through the move together.
- THEY SHOWED POSITIVE RESPECT. They communicated with their leader, and their leader directed them respectfully. They asked questions and listened and they seemed to communicate reciprocally. It was a two-way street.
- THEY RELIED ON HUMOR. They laughed a lot. When the day got long, and the sun began to set, they talked about future ideas, laughed at funny moments and kept on moving.
This list of 10 positive practices can be applied to being positive in most aspects of our lives. Me and my therapists use it regularly in our psychotherapy practice with adults, couples and families. The key to remaining positive when we are under stress is having practical steps to follow. In short, packing up our positive attitude on a daily basis could help most of us manage difficult tasks simply by following of these lessons learned from our team of gracious, focused and determined movers.