11 Little Ways to Be Positive in Any Situation
We often can't control circumstances, but we can always examine how we react and how we proceed.
Can you just ‘think positive’ and all your problems will go away?
Is ‘thinking positive’, a button that you can switch on and bingo, your life becomes all hunky-dory?
Not quite. Being positive is hard work and unless you put in the effort every day, it will not work, especially amid negativity we live in. Yes, you don't need to look far to find negativity these days. Scroll the headlines or turn on your TV and you could quickly conclude that we live in a dark, depressing, and angry place. But you can change that -- both your belief about the world and the world itself.
As Pamela Gail Johnson, Chief Happiness Officer and Founder of the Secret Society of Happy People tells us.
"Basic biology is why it's so much easier to think negative than it is to think positive. Once we fear something (think critters in caves during our caveman days) we then naturally look for other things that might harm us.”.
And that is where the issue lies; out of the 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day we think, an astounding 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. But the good news is that you can train your brain to become more positive by doing little things every day.
While everything might not work for all the people (we are unique human beings, remember?), even if something works, you can end the day on a good note.
And here are some little ways to be positive amidst negativity.
Change your thinking vocabulary
For example, instead of thinking, “We are going through a hard time in the COVID lockdown,” think, “We will face some challenges in our living situation, but we will come up with solutions that we will both be happy with.”
Pay attention to your words you utter and think. They can help you heal relationships, mend broken hearts, reach your goals, and craft a purpose for your life.
Look for the good in the bad
Let us say, you want the iPhone 10 and you want it badly. What is your first reaction when you buy it?
You look for the good in it, discounting the bad. The iPhone may have lots of bad features, but you are dazzled by the good in it and just ignore the bad. The reason? You want to own it at any cost. Life also works in the same way.
If you want to embrace life, you need to find the good nuggets into it, amidst the bad ones. So, instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.
The key is to discover opportunities for growth in the bad, even if it’s tremendously uncomfortable as of now.
Insert positive affirmations in your daily routine
A 2015 study by the Association for Psychological Science found that positive self-statements or affirmations can help boost your self-esteem and confidence. Some examples can be.
Paste a note on your laptop –The Laptop of the world’s greatest writer.
Before your morning jog just repeat- Every day, I am getting better and better
And so on….
The key is tricking your subconscious mind in believing that you are awesome so that more naturally occurring positive thoughts and less of nasty negative stuff will occur.
Use your ‘mind bus’
The ‘mind bus’ technique is a cognitive defusing strategy that was identified in a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology. The technique is simple but extremely effective in ignoring negative thoughts.
Assume you are the driver of the “mind bus” and both “negative” and “positive” passengers try to onboard your bus. You, as a driver have the complete authority to offboard the negative passengers from your bus. For example,
“My article will never get accepted by the publisher”. Get lost.” Just send it across.”
“I have never done freelancing work before. I will mess it up. Get lost.” Just go ahead and mess it up”.
“My YouTube channel is boring. No one will be interested.”. Get lost. “Just launch it.”
Remember, you're the bus driver. You have the power to tell them (the negative ones) to get off your mind.
Turn negative thoughts into neutral ones
Sometimes turning negative thoughts into neutral ones can be the best way out as this takes the path of least resistance and converts it to more of a “work-in-progress” situation rather than “not doable” situation.
As Dr. Sasha Heinz, a developmental psychologist and certified life coach tells us.
"If you're having trouble fighting negative thoughts, an easy brain hack is to turn your thought into a neutral one,"
“I will never be a successful freelance programmer.”. Turn it to “Let me enhance my skills in Ruby and Python and then decide the next course of action.”
“My girlfriend left me because I was broke.”. Turn it to “OK. Now I have the time to do some more writing.”
And so on…
The idea is to take baby steps; one step at a time and get into the positive frame of thinking.
Make fewer decisions
The more decisions you need to make in a day, the more the anxiety crops in and subsequently the more negative you get. So just cut the decisions out of your day as much as possible.
Put some parts of your day on autopilot. For example, have a defined menu per week for lunch or breakfast, then change it up. You have just removed a bunch of decisions. (Steve Jobs said that he wore the same outfit daily so that he wouldn’t spend energy deciding what to wear.)
Similarly, at work, ask yourself two questions.
• Do I need to decide now?
• Is the decision impacting me big time?
If the answer is NO, just forget about it. Remember, not taking a decision is also a decision.
Help at least one person in the day
You don’t have to do anything huge or heroic to help.
It can be as simple as opening the door for your neighbour while her hands are stuffed with groceries or helping the courier guy finding the right address in your apartment complex. Or it can even be helping your fellow programmer with a difficult piece of logic while coding. The options for giving help are endless.
Make helping as a regular part of your daily routine instead of a one-time activity. You can even set a daily calendar reminder for it in your phone, something like “Time to get happier”,” Time to feel better” or even simply “Time to help” and so on.
Appreciate at least one person in the day
Same as helping, appreciating a person, or showing gratitude makes you feel good.
Research has found that showing gratitude can do anything from making you more optimistic to warding of coronary artery disease. It can be anything from thanking your building janitor for the good work he has done, thanking your colleague for bringing a cup of coffee for you to sending an appreciation email to your boss for all the great help he has rendered to you. Don’t look for opportunities to thank. Just find them and show your gratitude.
It may seem a little awkward at first, but trust me, you will feel better once you start practicing it daily.
Take care of your mind and body
Research has proved that taking care of ourselves physically and mentally can influence our happiness and train our brain to be more positive.
For example, exercising for just 20 minutes a day is the best way to release endorphins, which in turn will improve your mood. Similarly, practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation can help us to bring balance and more positivity in our life.
Additionally, these mental and physical can help you build a more supportive and affirming belief system that gives you the ammunition to face any storm in life and come out of it with greater resilience.
Make time for something you love
The time you get does not matter. What matters is doing something (however small) you love.
It can be as simple as writing 2 pages a day to joining a full-fledged guitar class to pursue your music instincts. Remember the action does not really matter, what matters is the positivity it brings in your life. Set aside a boundary (maybe an hour) in which you devote time doing only things that fuel your inner creativity.
Remember, freeing up a little time to something that gives you genuine happiness is the best self-help you can give to you.
Finally, end the day with 3 daily positives
Before you go to sleep, just reflect on at least 3 positive things you did today or happened to you and note them down. You can give an inspiring name to that notebook like “My Awesome Wins” or ‘How I Changed Lives “and so on…
Just go into the introspective mode about the day that just went by. Whether if it was someone buying you a cup of coffee, an amazing poem you wrote today, or even solving that critical production issue that was a pain for such a long time. Even the smallest things, are more than enough to make you happy and eagerly looking forward to the next day.
As Jackie Chan has rightly said.
“I do small things. I try to do good things every day.”