I’ve got somebody that I’d like to introduce you to. This is Coconut (the monkey in the video). Now, Coconut, as you can see, has eyes wide open. Looking around for other apes. No, not other stuffed animal monkeys, but we’re looking for APES: capital A-P-E-S, as opposed to ANTS. What’s the difference?
I first learned about the idea of ANTS from John Assaraf from the NeuroGym program. ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts. As opposed to APES: Automatic Positive Emotions. The “S” is a stretch, I’ll grant you that. The ANTS, the automatic negative thoughts, I know that’s something I’ve battled in my life without even really realizing I was doing it at the time.
Now that I’ve become aware of that, I can’t think of anybody that I know that doesn’t have to deal with that sometimes. It’s a really subtle shift. The difference between when something happens, when something changes, somebody says something to you, you get some bad news, the weather changes … it could be anything.
What is your default reaction? Is it an ANT, an automatic negative thought, or are you programmed to look for the good side of something, the automatic positive emotion?
My experience is, you get and see and experience more of what you’re programmed to look for. So, why do I have a stuffed animal named Coconut? Well, Coconut was a gift to me from my sweetheart Caroline and her two kids, Fionn and Ciara, this past Christmas. It’s because we were at Walt Disney World Florida last August and one day when we were at the Animal Kingdom, the weather changed so suddenly when we were at the middle of the park that we were immediately soaked to the skin and everything got shut down. Everybody ran for cover and I was aware that some of those automatic negative thoughts were creeping in. I know this is a first-world issue – we were still on vacation – but it’s not what we’re hoping for. So you start having those thoughts: “Gee, I can’t believe our bad luck. What are we going to do now?” We’re soaked and uncomfortable.
What are you experiencing? Automatic Negative Thoughts? Or Automatic Positive Emotions?
Wasn’t long before Caroline’s son, Fionn, said “Hey Kev, can we go over there and look at the monkeys?” I hadn’t even seen what he was looking for, but he noticed it. I think because it was so hot out and the rain cooled things down that even though we were still in the middle of a downpour, the monkeys in nearby little island – that Fionn could see from where we were – had come out to play and were jumping all around and putting on a tremendous show. I don’t know if he was the only one who saw it but, he’s the only one who said anything. The two of us were the only ones among, I don’t know how many people, that were all huddled for cover in the downpour who trudged back into the rain with our ponchos up over our heads.
Nothing else had changed. The park was still shut down, we were still soaked, it was still a downpour. The difference was, we were standing there cackling like a couple of…well, monkeys … watching the show that the monkeys were putting on. He knew enough to see the good in the situation.
The funny part was, we went back a few days later and the exact same thing happened. Some storms and rain came into the area and they shut the whole park down. Right in the same area. If you’re there and you want to see the monkeys I’m talking about, they’re right near where the entrance to the Maharajah Jungle Trek is just right around the corner from the Kali River Rapids.
Those monkeys were a really good lesson and when we got the rain we knew exactly what to do. We’ve laughed about that ever since and then I got Coconut as a gift, which I love because I leave Coconut in the living room with eyes wide open as a reminder that you see and experience what you’re looking for.
So, what are you experiencing? ANTS in the head and the house? Automatic Negative Thoughts? Or more APES: Automatic Positive Emotions?
Use whatever you have to as a reminder. Me … I’ve got a stuffed animal.
Comments: What’s More Automatic For You?
What’s your immediate reaction when you encounter something you don’t like: a negative thought or positive emotion? Please add your thoughts to the Comments Section, below. I’d love to hear from you.