What can we learn from Thomas Edison?
In 1914 one of the most prolific inventors of all time suffered a great tragedy. His factory had burnt down. Reportedly costing Thomas Edison $ 1 million dollars approx. $29 million in today’s money. What a terrible low point. Chemical flames shot 100 feet in the air in a fire that smoked on for days. All of his workings, inventions and future profit streams were destroyed in one fell swoop.
But instead, it wasn’t any of these things.
Edison, while watching the blaze, reportedly turned to his son and said ‘‘Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.’ When his son objected in confusion he reassured him ‘It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.’
This was a man at 67 years old that had no issue with starting again. An expert in choosing how he felt. A man that was able to see the silver linings in even the darkest of clouds.
Not allowing negative emotions isn’t something that comes naturally to all, in fact, quite the opposite. Human beings have evolved to be inherently negative. It is not the optimistic one that shrugs off the potential noise of an incoming lion that usually lives to pass on their genes. It’s the cynical one that is cautious and looks for the danger that survives. While we still need an element that is necessary so we don’t get hit by a bus, for most of us, the world is pretty safe now.
We want to do more than just survive. We want to thrive.
So in a safer world, these negative emotions that saved us throughout history hamper us from enjoying life to the fullest and all it has to offer.
How can you reframe negativity?
One of the great ways you can stay away from our inherently negative nature and start training that positive brain muscle is to reframe events, setbacks or negative emotions.
You very much have the choice of how to view the world and the lens you adopt.
Sometimes your emotions may seem so strong or overwhelming that you feel your negativity is an inevitability. Just remember we are gifted to be the only naturally rational beings on this planet, part of this gift enables us to choose.
Like most things, this is a process the more you practise this the more you will conquer.
If you are choosing to be angry or upset then you can also choose the opposite.
A terrifying challenge that seems way out of your depth can become the opportunity to test yourself.
Edison could have chosen to catastrophise and mourn all that was lost and moan about how much he would be delayed. Instead by accepting it, seeing the upside and moving on he has practised tranquillity allowing him to remain in equilibrium despite outside forces.
This is someone that will be happy with something and nothing a lot alike.
Try and think of some of the things that you could reframe in your daily life. Look for the silver lining in your clouds. Or better yet don’t see them as grey clouds looming but just a magnificent part of nature. Without them after all, we would run dry. We would miss out on the natural beauty and the life that comes with them.