Positivity seems to be a popular catch-phrase these days, but do you really understand the value of creating positivity in your life? Unfortunately, for many people, “positivity” is just a way to discount someone’s feelings. If anyone has ever told you to “just think positive”, you probably know what I mean.
When people would tell me to “just think positive”, it often felt like they were treating my feelings like they were unimportant, which was hugely irritating. How can I be positive when we can’t pay the bills or feed the kids and my health is terrible but I can’t seem to find and help, and… and… and… ?
So here’s the thing. It’s okay to have negative feelings. It’s normal. We ALL have negative feelings from time to time. What’s important is your overall view of life. If your overall view is that your life sucks, well, your life is going to suck. You can’t have a positive, happy life with a negative, unhappy mindset. Conversely, you can’t have a negative, unhappy life if you have a positive, happy mindset. Your mindset creates your reality, so go ahead and allow yourself to be upset if you need to be, just don’t dwell there.
It sounds pretty simple but in reality, it can be pretty challenging. Why is this? According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, it’s because our minds are hardwired to find and focus on threats. It’s how our ancestors survived because if they were so busy basking in the beautiful sunrise and admiring the daisies, they might have been eaten by a predator or even killed by an enemy. They had to stay alert.
Life can be pretty difficult these days, but most of us don’t have to function day to day in survival mode (And if you do, please get some help. There is no reason to live that way and you deserve better than that.)
Survival mode means high stress, and high stress is not good for our health. It contributes to heart problems, weight gain, a weak immune system and various other issues. Stress can kill us.
Living with positivity in life, in contrast, can improve our health. We feel more calm which is good for our hearts and immune systems. The article I linked to above discusses a study by Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania. He found that optimists have longer life spans and fewer cardiovascular problems while pessimist had a weaker immune system. Their negativity literally makes their lives worse because they are more likely to get sick! The same study found that optimists are more successful in business as well, further improving their lives with their thought process.
So now the question is, how can you create more positivity in your life? The short answer is “practice”.
We have to work to retrain our mindset. So often our brains go off on tangents where one negative thought makes us remember something else that was negative and so on. Have you ever stopped yourself in thought and wondered how to got there? I know I have. Spend some time being hyper-vigilant. Monitor your thoughts, because when you are able to control your thoughts, you can control your life.
When you catch yourself having a negative thought, cancel it quickly and think of how you can make it into something positive. What can you learn from what you are experiencing? What is the lesson? Is it really a bad day, or just an unpleasant moment? Are you overreacting? Are you even looking at it realistically, or are you manufacturing scenarios in your mind? Ask yourself “what is true?” Then accept it and don’t allow your mind to meander and come up with reasons to worry about something that isn’t even happening.
When the situation really is something serious, ask yourself if it is something you can control. If not, try not to spend too much time obsessing over it. It won’t help the situation and will only make you miserable. If you can control it, first calm yourself, then come up with a plan of action.
If a situation is very dire, you won’t be able to help feeling upset, afraid, angry , etc. Allow yourself those feelings. But temper them with the fact that it isn’t going to last forever. I always remember that even the worst situations can bring about needed changes. Sometimes we have “growing pains” and often the more pain there is, the more we will grow from it.