“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill
We always have choices. This is a common message in my blogs because it is SO easy to forget. One of the worst feelings is that of being stuck. Feeling like there aren’t any options. This is rarely, if ever, the case. It is more likely that there aren’t any ideal options in our point of view, but situations in which we are completely devoid of choices are almost non-existent.
The great thing about options is they allow us to feel more in control and positive about our outlook. Last week’s blog discussed our brain’s tendency toward a negativity-bias for basic survival. This week is about re-wiring our brain to focus on the positive things in life. Like doing crunches to strengthen our core, we can strengthen the neural connections in our brains that trend toward positivity.
So here it is: The 30-Day Positivity Workout. Try it for one month and see how life improves. What have you got to lose?
1) Print out The Optimism Creed and place a copy where you will see it often (the fridge, office wall, mirror, etc.). In fact, print a few copies and place in multiple locations.
2) Practice conscious good deeds daily and engage in acts of kindness without expectation. It can be as simple as letting another motorist ahead of you in the merge lane or writing a kind note to someone who has inspired you. Making others feel better is contagious and makes us feel better in return.
3) Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Even if your first thought about a situation is negative, practice layering on 2-3 positive thoughts. There is always a silver lining.
4) Reduce time spent with people who are negative or tend to gossip, complain, or create drama. This one step will make a big difference in your day. In addition, stop comparing yourself to others. This is a huge downer and a waste of good energy.
5) Keep a gratitude journal. Spend 3 minutes each night reflecting on positive aspects of your day. Write down 5 things you are grateful for: Appreciation for a family member or friend. Getting through a tough meeting or presentation. A warm, sunny day. Light traffic on the commute home. Once you get going, you will likely come up with more than 5 each day.
New to this? Then pick just two from the list above to get started. Even minor shifts in positivity can lead to changes that will gain momentum.
And the benefits of practicing positivity go far beyond an optimisitc outlook. People report higher resilience, better sleep, fewer colds, more satisfying relationships, greater success at work, and less anxiety*. All from a simple shift in perspective.
Still not convinced? Here are additional articles from the WSJ, Forbes and the Mayo Clinic if you would like to read further.
Train your Brain to be Happier
10 Ways Being More Positive Improves your Career
Like all things in life, practicing positivity is a choice. Do we want to stay in the negative mindset and just survive, or move toward the positive and THRIVE? Decisions, decisions….