‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’
A positive attitude is not a magical, mystical mindset possessed by the lucky few. It is something that everyone is capable of achieving and is simply an inclination or leaning towards the positive aspects of any given situation.
Thinking positively is not about putting your head in the sand or about being unrealistic, as some people believe. A positive attitude recognises the negative aspects of a situation, but makes a conscious decision to focus instead on the hope and opportunity that is available. This releases you from getting locked in a paralysing loop of bad feeling, and allows you to move quickly towards taking action and solving difficulties.
Positive thinking and optimism are now known to be a root cause of many life benefits. The relatively new science of psychoneuroimmunology is concerned with how your mind can influence your immune system. The theory is that you will live longer and be healthier and happier by cultivating a positive attitude towards life. In addition, you are more likely to be successful, maintain better relationships and have a beneficial influence on those around you if you maintain a positive attitude.
Your mental approach to life is a combination of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Becoming aware of your emotions, identifying and analysing your thoughts and understanding your beliefs are key factors in being able to positively deal with whatever comes your way.
Life can be an interesting and challenging journey. Granted, you may well be faced with some pretty difficult situations. However, by developing a positive attitude you will become much better equipped to deal with situations more effectively.
It takes practice, and certainly, there will be days when you really struggle to see the bright side and the light at the end of the tunnel may well feel beyond reach. You may even decide that you want to wallow a little and feel sorry for yourself. That’s okay. The question though, is how long should you allow yourself to indulge in self-pity?
A firm belief that everything has the potential for a positive outcome is helpful. Even when things don’t turn out exactly as you would like them to, at the very least, the positive is that you will have learnt from the experience. Even when you experience pain it will make you appreciate the pleasurable times all the more!
‘Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.’
Norman Vincent Peale
Positive Thinking – Steps to Success
Make the decision to be a more positive person
Become acutely aware of your thinking and internal voice
Use positive internal language to condition your thinking
Challenge any excuses you make to yourself
Be a ‘radiator’ and manage your negative attitude ‘germs’
Seek out opportunities through problematic situations
How to be Positive
Here are a few tips to help you to think more positively:
Avoid negative attitude ‘germs’: You may have noticed that when you are with someone who is suffering from a physical or emotional problem, you feel bad too. It’s often described as ‘catching’ their emotion. Researchers have observed this actually happening in real time within the brain using an advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. The MRI machine showed the brain of Person A reflecting activity in the same area as Person B when they were in close proximity.
Choose to be a ‘radiator’: Some people you meet are like drains: negative, listless doom goblins, and when we come into contact with them they drain us of energy. They like to tell you all their negative news and prefer to play the victim, wallowing in a ‘poor me’ mentality. These are the people who, when you ask them how they are, will respond by giving you a graphic blow-by-blow account of their woes and feelings of impending doom! You may well know people like this.
Other people, however, are like radiators, full of warmth and vitality. We feel positively energised by them. They appear bright and radiant, look you in the eye, and when you ask them how they are, they smile and tell you something positive.
Take personal responsibility: Amazingly enough, the antidote for negativity is learning to accept responsibility for your situation. The very act of taking responsibility cancels out any negative emotion that you may trigger. By embracing responsibility you will reap many rewards. The successes brought by this attitude act as a foundation for self-respect, pride and confidence.
Positively learn from mistakes: Making mistakes is part of the human condition, and we can’t get everything right all the time. To increase your rate of success you will have to be willing to accept that you will make mistakes from time to time. The skill here is in positively learning from your mistakes. Recognising and admitting that you made a mistake and addressing what you can to improve the situation can be very liberating.
Eliminate excuses: You can create your own self-limitations if you focus on all the reasons why you can’t do something. If you search hard enough you will find countless excuses. It is very important that you challenge this way of thinking because it will limit your potential, and you will miss out on many exciting possibilities and opportunities as a result. Sometimes we make excuses because we are afraid of failing or because we fear the unknown, or even because we are too lazy to give things a go! Challenge yourself next time you make an excuse and really examine the reasons behind it!
How to Control Negative Thinking
Negative thinking will simply open the door for more negativity to enter your life. Practice these steps to get out of the cycle.
• Remember ‘this too shall pass’: Once we realise and accept that each negative obstacle we encounter is only a temporary barrier, it becomes easier to let it go and move forward towards more positive goals. Nothing lasts forever and each moment is an opportunity to learn something new. Look for the positive lesson in each situation, don’t dwell on the negative, and move on with your life.
• Replace to erase: Try to replace every negative thought you have with a positive one. By doing this you are telling your mind (both conscious and subconscious) that negative thoughts are unacceptable. This will eventually lead to your mind replacing negative thoughts without your conscious effort. For example, if you are thinking about how much you hate your job, switch that thought to the things you do like about it – perhaps you enjoy the type of work you do, how close it is to home, or how supportive your co-workers are. If you are thinking about how your friend is always late, switch to something more positive like her great sense of humour. Each positive thought you have helps to overpower the negative ones by erasing the negative energy that these ‘bad’ thoughts send out.
• Fight fear with action: One of the main sources of negative thinking stems from the words ‘I can’t’, words often rooted in fear (of failure, rejection or judgment) and can be debilitating and harmful to your personal life. Fight fear with action and action-oriented words. Simply replacing thoughts like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t be able to’ with ‘I will’ or ‘I’ll try’ will change your outlook and greatly improve your level of happiness. Not
much is truly impossible – if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything. Just do it!
• Inspire happiness: One of the simplest ways to increase the amount of positivity in your life is to surround yourself with things that inspire positivity. This applies to all areas of your life. Seek out art that makes you feel good, tack up inspiring quotes, and surround yourself with positive people. The more positive the people around you, the easier it will be for you to be positive yourself. Fill your home, office and life with things that make you feel good and that remind you of all that life has to offer. Another great way to inspire happiness is by sharing it with others. A friendly smile or a simple ‘hello’ is contagious; share your positive outlook on life and watch it come back to you with even greater power.
• Stop and take stock: Every once in a while we all need to stop and take stock of the things that take up time and space in our lives. These can be people, material items or emotional baggage; the point is to take a look at all the things that surround your daily life and assess whether they have a place there or not. If they don’t offer you some form of positivity then cut them out of your life (objects, emotions and people included) and if they do provide some sort of positive purpose, allow them to bring more by opening up to them and allowing them in deeper and more openly. By doing this regularly you will rid yourself of toxic influences that weigh you down and create negativity. No matter how positive your mind, allowing negative elements into your life will inevitably impact your well being.
Change: Ten Tips
Negative thinking at work will not only create a negative, awkward working environment, but is also likely to make you behave negatively, which could in turn have a negative impact on your performance. So take a deep breath, sit up straight, and use these tips to help you think positively at work: