In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system in a given frame of reference remains constant — it is said to be conserved over time. I agree with this law, but for me it also describes something else than kinetic energy and mass…

I am not into physics, nor do I want to explain this law of energy in that way. What I am referring to is the energy that we feel and express as human beings, every day. Some people spread positive energy, and others negative energy. I think it’s a combination of a person’s past, their attitude, their dominant thoughts and beliefs and their perception of the world. Sometimes it can be really strong as you can instantly like or dislike of a person you’ve just met (without having any clear indications about why you feel this way). With positive people you automatically feel safe, happy and relaxed around them. With negative people, automatically you can feel uncertain, unhappy and apprehensive. They don’t spread a good vibe… The main thing to remember is that energy has these opposites, and where there is one type of energy, you can change it over to the other side. You have the power to move from negative to positive.

Why do I like this stance on energy? Because, I like to be in control about how I experience my life, regardless of how bad times can get, how many negative people I have to work with, how many times I get to hear NO or ‘it will not work’. And although it can sometimes be a challenge, and motivation can get at a very low point, I believe there is a way out. And while it might be different for everybody, and it’s not a one size fits all solution on “how to be a positive person” I think at least trying or striving to be a positive person can help to reach goals, and move forward (and makes life more fun). Like Einstein defines it in physics: energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another. In my attempt to transform negative into positive, I strive for the following (inspired by positive role models from many contexts):

  • Trying to look at things from another perspective if I feel stuck. For example, put yourself in other people’s shoes, and look for the other side to the story.
  • Accept failure, but look at it as an opportunity to learn.
  • Believe in something bigger than the moment you find yourself stuck in, and don’t give up on those things you believe in.
  • Choose to see the good in people.
  • If you can, help/support others. Be aware of your own boundaries though, but don’t look for immediate returns as a condition to do so. I strongly believe that helping and supporting others will repay itself on the long run, although it might not be 1:1 (but who cares, because you have the capability to do it anyway). Some things may not repay itself in the energy you put into it, others will give you way more energy that you put into it: you don’t want to miss out on this because you could not see the payback beforehand!
  • Take responsibility over the things you have control over, and try not to place yourself in a victim role. It’s ok to feel stuck and hopeless, but this can only be temporary: realize this and move forward!
  • Don’t care about status, reputation or money: focus on doing work that you enjoy and make you happy, based on content and meaning.

Author MartineSchophuizen

Martine’s background lies in Psychology and Learning Sciences as she holds a Bachelors degree in Cognitive Psychology, and a Masters degree in Management of Learning (Maastricht University). After her studies she was a management trainee at a large dutch corporate telecom company. After that, she got the chance to go back into the academic world and had some hands on teaching experience as a lecturer at Maastricht University. She is now working as a PhD candidate at the Welten Institute of the Dutch Open University in Heerlen. Her research is centred around the question to what extent Open Online Education (OOE) is embedded in higher learning institutions. She will mainly focus on the organizational (pre)conditions that lead to succes/failure of OOE, the effect of Open Online Education on the organization, and the contribution it has towards the quality of education.

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