The 3 Secrets of Being Positive


This article has been updated, and now appears on my current blog.

You can read it here:

Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it

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Thank you for your visit,

Rosa Say
Workplace culture coach, and author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business: Learn more here.


    • Rosa Say says

      You are very welcome Matches, and welcome to Talking Story! New perspectives are what make a good case for patience too (patience is another thing I have to work on). For instance, I can usually come up with a response a little bit better than my knee-jerk reaction to something if I manage to bite my tongue, or better yet, sleep on it.

  1. says

    Rosa, I recognise so much of what you share here. I could never have described myself as a positive person a few years ago but I have very slowly and deliberately shifted my focus and turned that around. In some ways I think those who have learned to do this consciously are more compelling because there is a clearer ring of truth in it… comes from seeing the grit too? For me it is a conscious and deliberate choice each and every day. What I choose to look for and focus on, and in particular, what I choose to share with others.

    For those who are learning to make this shift I would add as suggestions looking for small but significant things that alter your world view for the better. For example, look for an act of friendship, or kindness, or generosity. Look for one thing of beauty in the day.

    I don’t think it’s possible to go through a day without coming across one act of kindness.

    That knowledge alone is enough to change my experience of life.

    BTW there is a book on this subject called Learned Optimism – I never read the whole thing, partly because at the time it seemed too far removed from my negative world view – but it does address the different consequences and attributes of those who are natural vs learned optimists, including how that affects compositions of teams in the workplace and so on.

    • Rosa Say says

      Such a rich comment Joanna, thank you! I must look for that book, Learned Optimism. Love the title alone.

      I am glad you mentioned the element of sharing for that, to me, is a final piece to this process — similar to the concept of “third person teaching” where you can feel you have learned something enough to teach another person (sharing it), but in that process of articulating your teaching for them, you have to internalize your learning so much more, and the wonder of it all is that it becomes exponential for both of you.

      Deliberance (which isn’t really a word I guess, but I think it should be!) is such a strength; it’s muscle building in being self-disciplined and resolute. In being sure. In believing.

      And I love the suggestions you added for us on “small but significant things that alter your world view” ~Thank you!

      Perhaps others have more suggestions to share?

      • Rosa Say says

        One more bit Joanna; you wrote:

        In some ways I think those who have learned to do this consciously are more compelling because there is a clearer ring of truth in it” comes from seeing the grit too?

        and you gave me a smiling memory of something my dad used to say to us about acknowledging the stuff we don’t like as helping us figure out what we do like. He would say, “dirt makes us want clean.” Within our family we started telling each other to “gizzard it” after we kids had learned why chickens need gizzards to grind and digest tough food – your mentioning “grit” was my memory trigger!

  2. says

    Rosa, thanks for having the guts to admit what a lot of us don’t want to acknowledge: that there’s sometimes an instinctive sense to see what’s not there instead of what is there. But you hit on something very powerful and that’s the strength of intentional thinking. There’s something deeply satisfying about being mindful, sensing what is and take the next step to look for what’s better and best. I can think of no better way to practice Hō‘imi than applying it to other people. The challenge I put to myself is instead of seeing someone’s faults as the extent of their character, to see them as whole individuals and acknowledge their potential. Thanks for this wonderful reminder today.

    • Rosa Say says

      Laughing at myself while smiling at the joy of our friendship Chris, for you know me so well! That first “little secret” has indeed been a secret for me, and I had to haul out a bracing of courage, telling myself to “spill the whole truth Rosa…”

      And yes, oh, oh yes! to this:

      I can think of no better way to practice Hō‘imi than applying it to other people. The challenge I put to myself is instead of seeing someone’s faults as the extent of their character, to see them as whole individuals and acknowledge their potential.

      Essential for managers, and why what managers do is a calling!

      I remember listening to a speech by Dr. Bill Thomas of The Eden Alternative way back in 2002 at the conferences Fast Company used to have: He made such an impression on me, when he talked about how he hires caregivers (“The Eden Alternative is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to transforming care environments into habitats for human beings that promote quality of life for all involved.”)

      Thomas said that they seek Caregivers who are more than caring and compassionate, in that they have “the gift of being able to see beauty in other people.” Looking for beauty in others (and finding their Aloha) is always a gift, but to see it in the aging body of someone who feels others have sent them to die quietly in a care home for the elderly is life-giving, and life-extending.

  3. says

    I also have to say thanks! I read your blog post at work during a break. On my way home the ice and snow was thawing, and I had to walk through big puddles of dirty water. “Grrr”, was my first reaction. And then I forced myself to see the positive side of it. It took me a few seconds, and then my inner positive said “What do you want – the ice is melting because the temperatures have gone up. These could be the first signs of spring waiting around the corner. Instead of whining about the dirty puddles you should do a happy dance around them!” I felt my inner negative shaking his head and rolling his eyes, but I managed to hug my inner positive (I have got the faint feeling that it is a “her”).
    .-= Ulla ´s last blog ..The crazy days are over =-.

    • Rosa Say says

      Ah, well done Ulla! Thank you so much for sharing your story, another in the vein of those “small but significant things that alter your world view” Joanna phrased for us!

      Funny too what you say about your “inner negative” and “inner positive” in that I wrote a bit in my journal yesterday about noticing that I used to refer to my writing muse as a “her” but now I have a tendency to think of my muse as a “him” and not only that, but a “he” who is much, much younger than me… no idea why…

  4. Rita says

    Rosa, I just found your website and blog. I also have recently completed reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. I see clearly the value and importance of being thankful in all things, of seeking to be inspired, looking for the good. Both the website and book suggestions and the book just finished are speaking to my heart as I try to shake off some negatives from the past year, discern how I can make them positives for my future.
    I am so happy to find your blog and I plan to visit often.
    Thank you!

    • Rosa Say says

      Welcome to Talking Story Rita :)

      I’ll have to look for Ms.Voscamp’s book too; thank you for telling us about it. Gratitude is an amazing healer and perspective shifter for sure – I completely agree.


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