These are anxious times. Tethered to our electronic devices, we are bombarded in every direction by negative images, stories, and conversations. All that negativity puts us in a mental “threat” state and shuts down the learning centers of our brains. Focusing on the negative contributes to feelings of stuckness, helplessness, and stress.
Conversely, focusing on the positive opens us up to insight, growth, and happiness. Positivity breeds possibility and broadens the scope of our world. “Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good but also dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels.” ¹
Creating a chorus culture of positivity begins with a commitment by each individual. Read the 7 strategies below to help you keep on the positive track in 2019.
Strategy #1 Develop perspective
It’s easy to get absorbed in one’s own problems and life challenges. Take your perspective outside yourself and think about the relative place your problems sit in the world. I am not suggesting that you invalidate how you feel or the struggles that you are having, only suggesting that you think broadly and see where your problems fall in the global picture. Perspective can greatly lessen your personal feeling of hardship. Author Marianne Williamson said “Acknowledge…but don’t dwell. There is a difference between denial and transcendence.”
Strategy #2 Narrow the scope of adversity
When #)$% hits the fan, think of the adversity as being temporary and isolated rather than turning that bad event into a sweeping condemnation of the entire world. Put some walls around it and examine it for what it is. See the bad times as phases or events instead of lifetimes. As world events happen that disturb you step outside the event. Put that event in its rightful place – look at it instead of being in it.
Strategy #3 Flip Your Focus
Intentionally start paying attention to the “good” because where you put your focus determines what you see. What we think about expands. It’s that simple. Where are you putting your focus? If on the negative, the lack, what is not working – FLIP your focus…and instead, focus on what is positive, what you want, that for which you are grateful.
Strategy #4 Develop a Gratitude-attitude
Gratitude is good for your health. Gratitude boosts production of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin that help your neurons travel more easily to the feel-good centers of the brain. The more you practice gratitude, the more established the feel-good neural pathway will become. Ask yourself “What am I grateful for today?” Challenge yourself to write down 5 things every day.
Strategy #5 Become the CPO (Chief Positivity Officer) of Your Life
It is important to proactively nurture a positive mental state. Incorporate regular mental techniques into your life like setting daily intentions, power thoughts, developing a gratitude attitude, and using strategies to support mindful self-care.
Strategy #6 Decrease Negative influences
Make a conscious choice to manage your intake of the negative. Remove yourself from negative conversations. Turn off the TV news and read something positive before you go to bed. You get to choose whether you spend time in negative activities or ones that feed you.
Strategy #7 Empower yourself and make a choice
Manage your negativity by taking control of your thoughts. Check in to see what negative messaging you are giving yourself. Awareness of what you are thinking is the first step, so learn to listen to your words, whether spoken or unspoken. If your thoughts are negative, return to strategies #3 or 4 above. As you focus on positive possibilities, you’ll find that positive energy follows.
¹Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage