7 simple steps to becoming more positive

How do we become more positive? We cease our endless stream of negative thoughts!

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Two professional people high fiving each other and smiling

There is power in positive thinking. Positive emotions are linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of depression, heart disease, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. There are simple habits that you can form to increase your positivity and happiness.

Support yourself with positive habits

According to Harvard Health that’s where Positive Psychology comes in…it has uncovered several routes to happiness –

  1. Feeling good –  seeking positive emotions and pleasant sensations
  2. Engaging fully – pursuing goals and activities that engage you fully and have meaning
  3. Doing good – searching for meaning outside yourself and helping others
  4. Gratitude – expressing appreciation for what you have in your life
  5. Savoring pleasure – consciously enjoying the positive and pleasurable experiences as they occur
  6. Being mindful – focusing your attention on what is happening in the moment and accepting it without judgment
  7. Self-compassion – supporting yourself, taking the time to nurture yourself, and building the motivation to try again

The enemies of positivity

Negative words impact the way our brains work, they generate negative energy and attract negative outcomes. And yet we seem to be hardwired to think and express ourselves in negative ways.

Negative expressions, anger and frustration can be a reflex reaction; a way to let off steam and cope with frustration. These sabotage our mindset, reduce potential and erode happiness.

Research shows that negative words and attitudes affect our wellbeing. They lead to increased levels of stress hormones and anxiety, and diminish our ability to think, reason and form memories. The research study Do words hurt? concludes that when we are exposed to negative words we suffer increased levels of stress hormones, increased anxiety, and diminished abiliies to think, reason and form memories.

According neuroscientists Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, flashing the word ‘NO’ for less than a second casues a sudden release in stress producing hormones and this level increases when ‘NO’ is vocalised with negativity and a frown. These chemicals interrupt normal brain function by impairing logic, reason, communicaiton and language processing. In fact, simply seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds increases anxiety and depression.

“Anger, resentment, envy, and self pity are wasteful reactions. They greatly drain one’s time. They sap the energy better devoted to productive endeavours.”

Ruth Bader-Ginsberg

Avoid these to improve your positivity

Pessimism – too much time thinking about the possible negative outcomes – glass half full rather than half empty.

Misunderstandings – and arguments are often due to poor communication; a lack of open mindedness; or a clash of opposing values, priorities and principles.

Jealousy and envy – complete wastes of time and energy, often based on the belief that there isn’t enough to go around. More recently know as FOMO – fear of missing out.

Focusing on the past – this often magnifies regrets. The past is useful for learning but not for living.

Worry – about what might happen and often combined with catastrophic thinking. Another complete time waster as the events or circumstances may not happen or can be prevented by action.

Fear – perhaps of the unknown or looking foolish. Mostly irrational. Can be healthy if used to identify risks to be managed or eliminated.

Limiting beliefs – often the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do something. Can be unconscious and perhaps the result of fears instilled during childhood.

Blame – laying blame when things go wrong instead of working together to solve problems and to ensure improvements.

Bullying –  repeatedly and intentionally using words or actions against someone to cause distress and risk to their wellbeing.

Complaints – sometimes they are legitimate indicators of required improvements, sometimes they are time wasters. If you wish to complain then suggest a solution or be willing to collaborate to find a solution.

Criticism – there is a difference between constructive feedback and biting criticism. While constructive feedback is offered with good intent, constant and biting criticism can lead to stress, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem.

Mistrust – lots of time is wasted due to mistrust. It often leads to inefficient processes that could be resolved with better processes and frameworks to support higher quality work.

Gossip –  it can make us feel better about our own circumstances to highlight the negative circumstances of others. It’s one of those distractions that keep us from focusing on our own lives.

How to amplyfy your positivity

The following steps are relatively easy, although even the simplest changes require discipline and focus.

Surround yourself with positive people – spend time with people who are positive, supportive, and who energise you. This is easier said than done if the nagative influences are close friends or family members.

Be positive yourself – the more positive you are the more people will want to work with you and spend time with you.

Master your thoughts – consciously resist negative thinking. Control and reframe your negative thinking.

Be nice to yourself – some people think and say the meanest things to themselves. This negativity can drag you down. It helps to talk to yourself as a personal coach rather than an inner critic.

Set realistic, achievable goals – there’s nothing wrong with setting a high bar — unless you beat yourself up for not achieving your goals. The key is to build confidence by setting realistic goals and making progress be achieving smaller goals along the way. If you dream too big and don’t plan, then it won’t be possible, and you can lose motivation.

Keep it in perspective – life is all about prioritising the things that matter most and focusing your efforts in these areas. This means delegating or dumping the things other people can do so you can concentrate on your critical priorities. Deal with or ignore the small stuff so you can get on with the big stuff.

Turn challenges into opportunities – instead of allowing challenges to overwhelm you, seek to problem solve and reframe them so they become opportunities.

Practice gratitude – be grateful for the special things in your life each day rather than taking them for granted. Take every opportunity to make a wonderful new memory and feel positive.

Practice mindfulness – live in present and attend thoughtfully to every moment. Use the past for learning, plan for the future and live in the present!

Find the meaning – set your purpose and focus your energies on achieving that purpose. Find ways to use your skills, talent and intellect to benefit those you serve.

Get the work-life balance right – 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours sleep! Find ways to increase your productivity and prioritise so you can focus and achieve your work outcomes within a reasonable number of hours per day. Remember to get your personal administration done along the way.

Look after yourself – eat well, move well, sleep well and think well. Find your cycle of optimal performance and stick to it!

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