Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 2, 2015

Concentrate on the positive

View From The Cheap Seats

William O. "Bill" James, Jr.

Last week, I pushed the idea of forgetting the past as the first step to enjoying the holidays. While the past can serve as great inspiration to push us forward in life, the past serves more efficiently as an anchor - an anchor that prevents us from meeting our true potential, and an anchor that prevents us from enjoying life the way we should. The great irony is that dragging the anchor of the past around with us is completely voluntary - a choice we often make even though the alternative would be easier.

They say that it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. Assuming that’s true, why do we frown when it would be easier to smile? It’s much harder to be in a bad mood than it is to be in a good mood. Whatever the reason for the harder choice is, it really doesn’t make sense. Just like focusing on the bad things in the past can negatively affect your life, choosing to be unhappy takes more effort, yet we still do it. Why don’t we choose to be happy?

It’s hard to imagine many of the people reading this column being in a position in their lives that things could not be worse. Just like things can always get better, they can always get worse. The best way to improve your situation is to identify where you want to go and then head in that direction. While there’s nothing wrong with preparing for alternative outcomes, we have to head toward the goal we want if we hope to get there. 

Wandering can be dangerous if it doesn’t lead you to where you want to go. If you’re going to wander, then make sure you recognize that you’re going to wander around in life without a plan. That way, when you wake up and realize your life hasn’t gone where you “wanted” it to be, you understand how it was you got there. There’s really nothing wrong with wandering as long as you’re aware you’re doing it.

Perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself in taking your life in the right direction is to recognize and concentrate on the positive. Spend your time remembering the good things that have happened and the good things to come. The irony of all this is, just like frowning is more difficult but seemingly preferred, concentrating on the negative things in life seems to be the default for many of us. Why frown when you can smile? Why be negative when you can be positive? Why concentrate on the bad when you can focus on the good?

Life is a race with one person. That opponent is none other than yourself. If you do the best you can, that’s all you can do. Use your gifts to their fullest, and you’ve done all you can do. Push yourself to the limits and experience life as good as it can be. Assume you’re going to do your best, and assume things are going to work out for you.

When things don’t work out for you as you want, take whatever lessons are offered, readjust your goals, and move on. Concentrate on the positive. Being positive about life is a key ingredient to all great success stories. That’s true for everybody, especially those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is a co-founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little Rock, Conway and Fayetteville, Ark. His primary area of practice is criminal defense. He can be contacted at Bill@JamesFirm.com.