As with all things, positivity seems to be all about balance. Being overtly positive and denying all other emotions or not allowing yourself to accept the possibility of negative scenarios can be unhelpful to us. On the other hand, a life without positivity doesn’t have the best health outcomes either. So, it’s about finding what works for you and authenticity within that. We all appear more human when we’re genuine about our thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way. Don’t fall for the trap of toxic positivity believing you must always appear infallible. But trying to gain a bit more positivity in your life, should you wish to, isn’t a bad thing either.
For more on Can Too Much Positivity Be Toxic read here.
Tips & Tricks to Be More Positive
Whilst it would be easy to say positivity is all about perspective. So just change yours. It’s a lot easier said than done. And I have, I admit, been frustrated in the past when I’ve read articles espousing a change like it happens overnight. Instead I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find a new perspective. Acknowledging, meanwhile, that this is an ongoing but rewarding journey.
Challenge Your Perspective
Positivity is all about our perspective. Which sounds easy but is actually really hard when we’re swayed by the thoughts of others. Whether friends or family, colleagues, our social media network or the marketing and advertising we’re exposed too. Instead, try to drown out those other voices and be honest with how you feel in a situation. And then take a step back and modify. Challenge yourself to find a silver lining. Perhaps you can review the “bad” day you feel like you’re having. And remember something good that made you smile. It could even be the fact that you took a step back and looked after yourself when things were hard. Or re-evaluate your day and notice it wasn’t necessarily “bad”. There are other adjectives you could use. Maybe it was frustrating, annoying or boring instead? This takes work and won’t happen overnight. It’s an exercise in patience.
Read more about positive thinking and how to put it into practise here.
Beware Negativity Bias
Negative thoughts have a habit of taking root. It’s normal to remember the negatives rather than the positives. And the more we let those negative thoughts take root the more power they gain. But we need to remember that our thoughts are precisely that. They’re products of our brain, not fact. And our brain has a hardwired negativity bias as a protective factor. Put simply, we’re more likely to view something as negative as this makes us proceed with caution.
So, how do we overcome this negativity bias? A therapist once said to me “Take your thoughts to court”. And it makes so much sense. Look for the evidence for this thought. This is essentially a CBT trick but one you can practice safely on your own. Ask yourself: Do I have evidence to support this thought? Has it happened before? Or did it happen with a different outcome or not happen at all? Is this my own belief or have I adopted this belief based on what someone else has said? You can even right down every possible outcome and rate them for how likely they are to happen.
For 4 Ways to Reframe Anxiety inc negativity bias read here.
Another trick to combat negativity is to press pause on them. As we’ve said above, the more we think about them, the more traction they gain. If we’re not in the right space to combat them. Literally stop and write down all the thoughts. Whether with pen and paper, through art or typing them on your phone or laptop. Channel them elsewhere. Not only can this be incredibly cathartic. It also gives you a moment to slow down the negative momentum. Negative thoughts can often be like a game of dominoes. Once it’s started one negative thought leads to another painting your whole day or even life in a negative light. By pressing pause and letting some of the emotion out we can turn to a more rational mindset. And when you’re ready, perhaps try and challenge them with the method above.
For more on How To Find a Slower Pace in Life read here.
Gratitude can be a powerful way to rewire your brain away from it’s negativity bias. By practising gratitude we encourage our brain to switch focus from the negative and towards the positive. With time, the neuroplasticity of our brain – essentially how our brain learns new things – means we’ll start to do this by instinct. Practise really does make perfect!
Surrounding ourselves with a positive network of people and in a positive environment can be helpful too. It may be helpful to consider what activities, but also what people make us feel good about ourselves. Those that, to quote Marie Kondo, ‘spark joy’ should be the people and the activities we try to spend most of our time doing. If they help us feel lighter or forget our negativity they’re worth investing our time in.
Switch to Problem-Solving Mode
One of my favourite quotes is “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem” and it’s a great way to switch our focus away from the negative. Negativity can often swamp us in the aftermath of disappointment or failure. Sitting with those feelings can often lead us to spiral into a storm of negative thought processes. Whilst we may need to press pause when this begins. When we’re ready to try switching to problem-solving mode. Whilst positivity is hard to find in challenging times or after a disappointment, we can find some success with a problem-solving mindset. This switch can help us feel motivated to overcome the problem. And small successes can motivate us further. Often, when we’ve been in a negative space, getting going and doing something to help or reassert our control can be extremely powerful. This idea is encapsulated brilliantly by the quote below.
“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.”Bo Bennett
All About Self-Care
Lastly, a focus on self-care to boost our mood and investment in our mental health can literally help lighten our burdens. Whether it’s exercise which releases good mood endorphins, giving back to the community which can increase our feelings of happiness, getting outside which lowers our stress levels, practising being more present which can help us accept the present without judgement or a good night’s sleep which prevents the brain function that processes your positive thoughts from deteriorating. You may wish to insert a self-care practise after pressing pause on your negative thought spiral. And before you embark on problem-solving or looking for evidence for those negative thoughts.
For more on Prioritizing Self-Care read here.
For 4 Ways to Reset Yourself in 5 Minutes read here.
Helping Others Find Positivity
But it’s not all about our own positivity. We can help spread that positivity to others or encourage them to be more positive. And we don’t have to be positive ourselves to do so. Helping others to be more positive may , in fact, help ourselves to feel more positive too!
- Help someone find an alternative perspective. It’s easier to see something logically when our judgement and thoughts aren’t clouded by emotion. You have the benefit of degrees of separation when the problem isn’t your own. Try doing so gently by suggesting “I wonder if they would feel the way you described or if they might be understanding” or whatever suits the situation. But remember, if they’re not in the right place or don’t want to hear it then back off. Timing is everything and you can always try again later.
- If things are difficult they may need empathy and understanding. Instead of us trying to fix everything for them. Sit with them in their emotion and acknowledge it and how difficult it might be. To help provide perspective you could say something like “That sounds really difficult and you seem to be having a hard time. Is there anything I can do to help?”
- Offer to work on positivity together. Perhaps text or call each other with one positive thing a day (or more) or one thing you’re grateful for. This can provide accountability and is a great way to work on both your positivity levels.
- Being there for each other and kind to each other is a way of connecting and communicating. Or you could both pledge to volunteer for same/different organisations.
For The Crucial Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy read here.
For the 11 Tips You Need for Effective Listening read here.
What are your thoughts on gaining a positive perspective? What works for you? And what do you think of our tips and tricks? As always, let us know below!