Wednesday, August 10, 2016
How To "Be More Positive"
Have you ever heard someone tell you to "just be more positive"?
How did it make you feel? Like pushing them off a 50 story building right?
Here's the missing link of that supposed advice that those well meaning people never tell you. It's not about just "being more positive" but rather fostering an environment that recognizes negativity but does not give it power. This is not an easy thing to do and you HAVE to continually work at it.
Sorry, as with most things in life, what is worth doing isn't easy and change is usually required.
It turns out that everyone has bad days and sometimes we just find ourselves in bad moods and have ZERO explanation why. For some people, like myself, with Depression this can happen without an obvious cause, without warning and/or without an end in sight which is frustrating and scary at times. It may not be as often but it happens to people without Depression too.
***Rather than trying to CONTROL your mood or feelings, it is much healthier to accept them and learn how to move forward.***
There are things we can do to PREVENT our thinking from manufacturing our emotions.
Emotions are basically stories that we attach to feelings. They may be true or they may be completely in our head. More often than not, emotions are what create the bad moods we experience and much of the pain/hurt/misunderstanding that festers long after the actual damage was done.
So how can we restructure our thinking to foster an environment of positivity, productivity and collaboration rather than negativity, blame finding and division?
1. Assume the best of people rather than the worst of people.
Believe it or not what most people want in life is to be at peace and as Peter Gibbons famously said, "...my only real motivation is not to be hassled...". It's true! In general people have good intentions attached to the things they do. A misstep in judgement, poor choice of words or even just having not considered the perspective of others can make their actions SEEM malevolent. Most of the time, right or wrong, people are so absent and focused on their own personal reality that they have no idea how their actions affect others. Give people the benefit of the doubt to know that their actions are not intended to do anything "to you".
2. Focus on abundance rather than lack.
How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you NEED to gain something, learn something or achieve something in order to feel successful or happy? Focusing on what you don't have puts your mindset in a constant state of lack. You lack X,Y or Z and that's the reason why you can't have whatever it is you seek. Instead try focusing on what you are good at, what you do have and what you have achieved to keep your thinking in a place of abundance. I once worked for a company that put this into their business practice during the interview, hiring and promotion practices and they topped the Inc 500 list for growth and success. That's proof of concept right there!
3. Unplug from mass media.
We often don't realize the role the media plays in shaping our perceptions of the world. Creating my OWN view of the world is something I've personally been working on by largely limiting my exposure to television, political discourse and social media. Who wants to be a talking head? Most people are completely blind to the fact that media is purpose-built to do one thing, obtain ratings and sell ads. The go-to strategy for this is covering negative, controversial subject matter that gets people to argue and illustrating unrealistic expectations of what life "should" look like. This creates a revolving cycle of constant lack, attempts to buy happiness thru our consumer culture and then comparing yourself again to the idea of "the good life" usually again thru media. Think about the media coverage you see of politics with personal attacks constantly lobbied at one another. How about the fear mongering that our world is in a constant state of conflict when this is actually one of the most peaceful times in history? You can even look at popular television shows and see constant messages of relationship woes, office politics, violence and ridicule for people who may not fit a cultural "normal". How about the complete lack of realism? How does someone in NYC have a 2000 square foot apartment, a brand new car and a killer wardrobe with a regular job? Look at how we consume media and think about how that exposure affects your interactions with others and your own feelings of self worth.
4. Open your perspective by outwardly seeking opinions contrary to your own.
This one is SO hard to do but if done with an open mind can completely change your entire worldview and how you see others' actions. One example is glaring in how intolerant we have become of political beliefs, going so far as to call someone an idiot for having a certain position on an issue. Our country was not built by this behavior of violently rejecting the opinion of others. It was founded on collaboration of ideas with an effort to build up our success and not tear down our spirits. But we find the opposite, even in our every day lives, with social media posts carefully crafted to make others jealous, brag about ourselves, lob personal attacks or arguments at each other and showcase our latest personal possessions rather than to include others, support them and share ideas for bettering each other. We don't ask anymore without expecting a specific reply. We don't share anymore without wanting outright approval and "likes" for what we do. We don't accept people for having a difference of opinion. It's scary. We are all guilty. We can all be right or wrong at any given time.
5. Participate in interactions with others that are judicious and limit those that are abusive.
If every interaction you have with someone is making you feel like you are a bad person, make constant mistakes or like you just can't succeed then it is time to re-evaluate whether those interactions are beneficial to have at all. A puppy learns quickly to avoid another dog if their requests for interaction are constantly met with snarls, barks, growls and snaps. Give yourself enough respect to know that granting forgiveness for others' behavior does not have to mean accepting hurt in doing so. Redirect your effort to interactions that promote productivity and growth instead.
Give these tips a try and I promise you will start feeling a difference in your thinking. One that, when given the right amount of effort, will transform the emotions you allow yourself to develop. You just may find yourself in a good mood more than a bad mood and that's where we experience the joy, success and memories that we want in our lives for years to come.