Focus on the positive, not the negative

As clichéd as it sounds, looking at the positives, rather than negatives, does help

I was casually chatting with a friend of mine, a medical practitioner, a doctor, when he was approached by a senior gentleman. The elder was complaining about his apparent ill health.

The gentleman had lived a healthy existence for most of his life, and now owing to his having grown old, seemed to suffer mild infirmities.

He asked my friend as he shared his plight, ‘why me’?

My friend recounted an incident from the life of the legendary Arthur Ashe, the tennis player, which struck me as significant.

Ashe was diagnosed with terminal illness owing to the poor blood transfusion he had been subjected to. Several of his well-wishers came to commiserate with him and one asked “why should you have got this?” Ashe with equanimity responded, “I did not ask ‘Why me?’ when I won the Wimbledon, why should I therefore now ask ‘Why me?’”

When joy envelops us we accept it without thanks many times, yet when we are overcome with sadness we ask ‘why me?’

My friend then suggested to the ageing gentleman, “Look back on all the good times you have had, and in doing so, the suffering you are currently undergoing will be less daunting.”

This I thought was true for me. If I can remember with thanks and recall the good times in my life, the pain of what I may be going through currently may distract me less and I can then re-direct my energy to focus on possibilities rather than paucity.

The writer is an organisational and behavioural consultant.

He can be contacted at

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