Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

I have heard it said that there is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude; the big difference is whether it is positive or negative.

Throughout our lives we come across negative people – those long suffering souls entrenched in pessimism and dissatisfaction. They inhabit our work environment, our neighborhoods and even our families and social circles. Being around them can be emotionally draining.

In order to live a happy, harmonious life we need to defend ourselves from negativity. Here are five principles that may be helpful.

1. Always look for the positive: In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not obvious. We have to look, and sometimes we have to look really hard.

2. Spend more time with positive people: You are the average of the people you spend the most time with – in other words, who you spend your time with has a great impact on the person you eventually become. If you are around cynical and negative people all the time, you will become cynical and negative. Instead, surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be

3. Be the positivity you want to see in the world: Lead by example. You may not be able to save the world, but you can make the world a better place by practicing what you preach, by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your positive space.

4. Don’t take other people’s negativity personally: Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality and attitude. Don’t make it part of yours.

5. Concentrate on today: We often carry around things from our past that hurt us – regrets, shame, anger, pain. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Don’t let these negative points from the past rob your present happiness. You can decide right now that negative experiences from your past will not predict your future.

Related Reading:
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E. P. Seligman
The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch