How to Be Positive Even if Circumstances are against You – #LMLBC Episode 6
Posted Sep 07 2011 10:15pm
Posted in | September 6, 2011 |
By Anastasiya Goers
Can you be a balanced person with a negative attitude? I would like to see that.
“Hey, how was your day?”
“Why? Did anything bad happen?”
“Of course, haven’t you watched the news?! The politicians are not doing anything to improve the economic situation. My favorite football team has just lost its first game of the season. And on top of all that, I have to hang out with relatives that I pretty much hate – they are just so annoyingly happy.”
“I’m sorry to hear that… Is there anything I can do?”
“Oh, no. I feel pretty balanced right now. I’m just going to watch a little bit more depressing news because you just lifted my spirits too much. [Sigh]”
Definitely, positive attitude is the way to go if you want to stay in balance. According to a new meta-analysis of more than 200 studies, positive attitude helps you create success in all areas by making you more effective and efficient at nearly everything you do (from your career to your relationships to your physical health.)
Even if you think that you are a rather positive person already consider these 9 tips that will help you feel even better. For your homework, the rest of the week, work on implementing all of these strategies into your life. Figure out which ones work the best for you.
The human brain is wired to create patterns, so if you constantly focus on worries, fears and problems your brain gets “stuck” looking for the negative and has no resources left to seek the positive. An easy way to change this pattern is to start a mini gratitude journal.
Every day spend 45 seconds a day listing three things you are grateful for. The key is making sure that each one is new, different and specific each time you do the exercise. You can focus on your accomplishments, on events that happened in your life today, on people around you or just your own wellbeing.
A while back I read an interesting story in a parenting magazine. One mother was complaining that her son was extremely negative: no matter what he did he managed to find something negative about it. One day the family went to see a baseball game of an older brother. It was cloudy and by the time they got to the field it started raining. Of course the little boy started complaining that the game was worthless, nothing interesting was going on and he was about to catch a cold from sitting in the rain.
His mother sent him to the car alone and told him not to return until he thought of 10 positive things about that day. The boy was gone for most of the game but when he got back he was a different child. He thought of how beautiful the rain clouds were, how happy he was to have a car to sit in, how happy he was to have eaten pancakes for breakfast, etc. After that it became a tradition in that family to create a list of 10 positive things whenever anyone made a negative comment.
Most of us get stuck in a rut of daily habits. We get used to our route to work, our breakfast options, our family members and co-workers. Did you ever get a call from a friend asking you “Hey, what’s new in your life?” And after a long pause you answered “Oh, nothing really, same old – same old.”
Living out of habit prevents us from engaging in what’s around us, it makes us lose track of time and feel exhausted and unenthused. Mindfulness , however, energizes, excites and allows us to maximize our potential personally, professionally and socially.
Commit to this simple daily exercise: walk out of the house and actively seek five new things. Try to discover something different about a task at work (or add your own creative spin on it), a friend, a relationship, your kids etc. Your work will become more interesting, your relationships will be more exciting and life more engaging.
Create the same rule for yourself or even your family members. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts blast them with 5-10 positive things about that particular day.
While mindfulness is a passive way to get out of a daily rut, you can also adopt a more aggressive strategy. Every week try something new, whether it is a new recipe, a new hair style, a new workout or a new route to work.
True happiness stems from achieving something meaningful to you. It can be anything like painting, raising kids, helping others, growing a house, writing a blog or organizing your house. It doesn’t matter how spectacular or how famous it makes you – what you do just has to be intrinsically motivated. Ignoring what matters to you sets you up for unhappiness now and regret later in life.
Make it your personal “me” time and make sure that you leave some time in your schedule to engage in this activity.
Ruminating about your life – obsessing over circumstances you can’t change or replaying them over and over in your mind – can sabotage your happiness and lead to depression (according to research from Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Yale University.) This bad habit can also zap your creativity, lessen decision-making abilities and slow comprehension.
The next time you catch yourself dwelling on an event – a negative exchange with a coworker or an argument with your family member- find a solution. If you can change something – do it right away. Apologize or try to find a compromise with the other party, make a positive remark about the other person and suggest moving on. If you can’t change anything – just create a plan of action if something like this happens again and move on.
You can’t change people around you, your can only change your own attitude and behavior.
Keeping up with a thousand friends on Facebook won’t make you any happier (if anything, it can make you only more depressed.) Create deep relationships with a few friends, family members or your spouse to increase your happiness level. We all need a few confidants who hear us on a deeper level, allow us to share experiences and become involved in our lives.
Once a day spend some time with a close person. Talk to your partner and spend time with him/her. Call your friend or a close family member. Plan monthly events with your close friends.
If you don’t have a confidant right now then think of the people from your past that you want to reconnect with or make the first step to build a new friendship. Remember, that in order to have good friends you must be a good friend yourself first.
Nature has an amazing power to fight depression and put us in better mood. According to research conducted by Richard Ryan (University of Rochester), a breath of fresh air rejuvenates your mood and energy levels as much as a coffee break. Spending just 20 minutes a day on a park bench or in your own yard can revitalize your spirits.
Even if you are not an outdoorsy person try to combine your favorite activities with being outside. Do your mindfulness exercises while walking, exercise outdoors and plan picnics with your friends or family.
It’s a well-known fact that regular exercise is beneficial to your body. A recent study published in the Archives of general Psychiatry found that working out regularly can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as much as anti-depressants. Why don’t more people exercise regularly?
If you find it difficult to get in the exercise mood, imagine yourself enjoying your favorite parts of the routine or how great you will feel after the end of the workout (in contrast to how tired you feel right now.) Another trick is to tell yourself that you will exercise only for 5 minutes – if you are still feeling tired after 5 minutes then you will stop. Of course, once you start moving you will go all the way. These mental tricks will help you overcome negative thinking and motivate you to stick to your workout.
Research has long shown that if you want to instantly improve your mood, spread positive energy or be perceived as more intelligent, outgoing, attractive, interesting and confident person, smile more.
By sharing your smile with a negative coworker or a client you can bring their mood up too which will make your communication much easier. Smiling at somebody triggers their mirror neurons, parts of our brain that make us feel what we see someone else experiences. (It’s the same process that makes us yawn when someone else yawns first.) The unhappy person in turn feels happier, which changes how they treat you and others.
Print this article and commit to trying all these new techniques at least for a week. Pay attention to how different you feel before and after the end of the week. What was the most helpful tip for you?
Share your own ways of keeping a positive attitude in the comments below.
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