Filling Your Life with Positivity: Claim 2019
Written By: Matt Mignona
When life is going well, it's easy to think positively. However, even the smoothest roads will face occasional bumps, leaving you with potential bruises: will you be able to think positively in those moments? Most of us have experienced the downward spiral associated with negativity, a spiral that seems to quickly gain momentum.
Positive thinking gains momentum, too, and when it's running strong, it's harder to derail. No matter how well your life is going, it's essential to bolster it with a strong positive mindset that will enhance the good times and carry you through the rough spots.
Why Is Positive Thinking So Important?
It has been shown to improve several areas of your life, including two big ones: health and productivity.
- Improved Health: Numerous studies have shown that positivity contributes to better outcomes after a variety of health scares, including brain injury and stroke. Furthermore, a positive outlook is associated with a stronger immune system and it may protect you from some of the damage caused by stress. Mayo Clinic cites links between positive thinking and an increased life span, lower rates of depression, better cardiovascular health, improved coping skills, and more.
- Improved Productivity: A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science indicated that certain positive practices in the workplace, such as caring for others, forgiving mistakes, and doing meaningful work, made the team more productive. Furthermore, positive thinking can boost your energy, reduce stress, increase brain stimulation, and enhance problem-solving skills, all of which help you be more productive.
It's worth noting the close relationship between health and productivity: it's hard to be productive if you're sick and lying on the couch. Positivity contributes to both your health and your productivity, but good health itself is important for productivity, as well.
How to Fill Your Life With Positivity
Staying positive doesn't mean avoiding the challenges in life or pretending the hard stuff isn't there. Instead, it means approaching those challenges with the right mindset, which will help you get through them as easily as possible.
Focus on the Good
Even your best, most successful days may have a dark cloud or two in there. Maybe someone cut you off in traffic or there was a huge line at the grocery store.
Don't dwell on those moments.
At the end of the day, focus on the highlights: what did you accomplish? What was the happiest, brightest moment in your day? What goals are you eager to achieve tomorrow? Close your eyes and relive them, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of the experience. Write those things down.
Review the Negative Moments With an Eye to Improvement
If something negative did happen, instead of ruminating, think about how you could have made that moment better. Back to the traffic example: someone cut you off, and you got angry. Maybe you considered retaliating in some way. Think about how you could have handled it better: taking three deep breaths, maintaining your composure and continuing to drive safely, maybe even sending a few good thoughts in the bad driver's direction. Writing down a few ways you could improve in the given circumstance is empowering; it gives you an action plan for next time and helps you move past that negative moment.
Don't Take it Personally
You're not unlucky. Set-backs will happen despite your best efforts. A new challenge or a difficult circumstance is not a failure on your part, and someone else's unfortunate behavior always has more to do with them than it does with you, even if they try to place blame on you. Keep a healthy distance between what is happening and your own role it in. Adapt to what's going on and do what you need to do, but don't take it personally.
Spin the Story
Pause at various moments throughout the day and check in with your thoughts. Are they positive or negative? If they're negative, turn them around. For example:
- Negative Thought: I'll never learn how to do this.
- Positive Spin: I'm making great progress and just need a little more time to get it mastered.
- Negative Thought: There's no time for this.
- Positive Spin: I'll just tackle this first part of the project and see how far I can get.
- Negative Thought: I'm too tired to go to the gym.
- Positive Spin: I'll be able to go to bed a few minutes early tonight and get a great sleep. For now, I'll go to the gym and just do what I can. Something is better than nothing!
Assume the Best
When you're facing a deadline, a speech, a meeting, or any other event that may cause anxiety, assume the best. Don't start running through a list of all the things that could go wrong. Don't ask a bunch of "What if...?" questions. Most likely, those things will never happen, and you'll waste a lot of time imagining them. If something does happen to go wrong, you'll deal with it. You're sharp like that.
Instead, picture everything going exactly the way you want it to go. From your drive across town to the meeting itself, imagine it all unfolding smoothly for you.
Appreciating what you have instead of focusing on what you don't is a great way to enhance your positivity. A gratitude log will help keep you in check; that is just one of many ways to practice gratitude.
Be Careful with Media Consumption
It's important to stay up-to-speed with what's happening in the world, but mainstream news is full of negativity, and it leads us to believe the world is a lot worse than it really is. Keep yourself informed, then set aside some time to read and watch good news, too. Sites like Good News Network, Optimist Daily, and Positive News are committed to sharing the bright side. Even mainstream outlets like Today and MSN have "good news" sections.
Watch videos that make you laugh and feel good. Your favorite comedians and puppy videos are a good place to start.
This includes speaking positively to yourself and to others. Avoid complaining. Even the most positive people tend to complain about little things, like the weather or a broken sink. If you find yourself launching into a story about how your significant other never does the dishes, stop yourself. You can spin the story in your head or out loud to the person to whom you were telling it. Complaining is not only a negative experience for you, but it also spreads that negativity to others.
Most likely, not everyone will appreciate your efforts to spin their stories; if they complain to you, you might lose a friend or two if you tell them to look on the bright side of their car breaking down. Instead, empathize. Then set the example by limiting your own complaining, try to change the subject as soon as you politely can, and let your next contribution to the conversation be a positive one.
When positivity is a practice in your life, you'll notice how much easier it becomes to stay on course, even when circumstances aren't ideal. Use this positive approach to make this your best year yet.