We can find inspiration in the least expected places.

In the previous post, I wrote how a student summer job in a remote area in northern Quebec had triggered a process that would have a huge impact on the rest of my life. I was a 22 year-old university student majoring in English literature. Reading William Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets during that summer made me realize what a courageous and creative writer he was. I had started reflecting on my life and luckily his courage rubbed off on me and brought my reflection to a deeper level.

At the time, I felt like I was on automatic pilot and just going along unconsciously with what was expected of me. I was born and raised in the city and in some ways it was “normal” for people to be isolated, jaded or cynical, certainly not inclined to make the first move toward other people or to simply greet someone with a smile.

I realized how easy it was to be negative instead of positive. Why was it that if I had something negative to say to or about someone, I would probably not hesitate to say it? On the other hand, why would I hold off from saying something positive?  Just because I presumed the other person already knew?

I also starting thinking about relationships and wondering why we really like to make things complicated for each other. We put in a lot of efforts in playing hide and seek with who we really are, how we really feel and what we really want and then complain when we feel the other person doesn’t love us for who we are or couldn’t guess what we really wanted!

Before coming back home to Montreal at the end of the summer to continue my university education, I had made myself a promise. I decided I wanted to be a person who has integrity, who would be straight and honest. I would be courageous enough to say something positive about someone and share my good feelings without expecting anything special in return. Do it strictly and only for the good that it could provide with no ulterior motives.

Things are easier said than done. Old habits die hard.

Every day, I had to make a conscious effort to become more aware of my feelings and behaviours as I started looking for what was positive in people instead of unconsciously focusing on the negative.

Slowly but surely, I started feeling and saying more and more positive things to and about people. Even if it was just a simple compliment, I gave myself the permission to say it and the courage to accept whatever would come back to me. Instead of smirking and ignoring people, I would smile and make eye contact with people as I walked.

As a result, I became much more accepting of other people’s comments and opinions. I also became a lot more courageous in stating my opinion even if it went against the grain.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. I realized how true that was the day I “stumbled upon” the book “I’M OK – YOU’RE OK” by Thomas Anthony Harris.  It was my first self-help book. Reading it reinforced my commitment and made me realize that there isn’t a “perfect” way to behave, because we’re all different and we’re all OK. If we open our minds to other people’s ideas and behaviours, it can only benefit us and make us better persons and make us grow.

This started doing wonders in my life. I was less stressed, less worried about what people would think if I said this or that. I focused on positivity, comfort and warmth and this was reflected in my behaviour. I created many beautiful moments for myself and for other people just because I had the courage to simply share a smile and a positive comment. Results: I started attracting more and more positive people and events in my life.

I’ve held on tight to that promise I made to myself when I was 22 years old.

It has brought a lot of joy, happiness and fulfillment to my life. My beautiful wife and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary next summer and early in our marriage, we have been blessed with two wonderful children. My positivity and people-centered outlook served me well when I taught high school students early in my career and subsequently through my leadership approach in the financial services industry, until I sold my business in 2010.

For the last 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people embrace a positive outlook through my speaking, coaching and consulting services. It’s with this heart-based vision that I now tackle a new project: blogging! I hope you’ll stay tuned.

May the rest of your life be magnifico!