What Can Positivity Do For You?

Save yourself with perspective.
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Mark Complete

The Power of Perspective

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How do you react if something at work or in your life doesn’t go exactly like you wanted? Do you feel sorry for yourself, wondering, “Why does this always happen to me?” Do you find yourself obsessing over the problem or obstacle in your way, or centering conversations around your problems? When we react to difficult situations by complaining, feeling helpless, placing the blame on others, or thinking the universe is out to get us, we are participating in a pattern of destructive, negative thinking.

At times we can all find ourselves trapped in a negative mindset or experiencing negative thoughts. We may even enjoy the attention and validation we get from others trying to help us. Have you ever considered the long-term consequences from this way of thinking? Negative thoughts are self-perpetuating and can cause damage to our work and personal relationships, future opportunities, and even your health.

Research tells us that shifting our perspective from negative to positive will make us more successful, happy, and motivated. Feeling sorry for yourself or focusing on negative thoughts does nothing to contribute to your life and is a waste of energy. Leave this negative mindset in the past, by letting go of narrow, self-centered thoughts and replacing negative thinking with a positive mindset. It’s a choice we get to make each day.

Tactics for Shifting Your Mindset

Practice Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness helps us become more aware of where we are and what we are doing without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by our circumstances. We are focusing on the present moment without judging. When judgmental thoughts arise, practice being aware of them and letting them pass, returning our minds to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is a healthy exercise for your brain that can be done in as little as 5 or 10 minutes day. This practice helps the brain become more agile and is useful as you attempt to shift negative thoughts to positive thoughts.

Journaling

Considering writing down your thoughts in a journal. There are a variety of options and methods that can be beneficial to developing a positive mindset.

  • Gratitude Journal – Write down what you are grateful for daily.
  • Thought Diary – This is a tool used to reflect on and be aware of our negative thoughts. Write down what you are thinking and what the circumstances were that caused the thoughts. After the thought is written down, a thought diary prompts the writer to record an alternative thought – one that is more helpful, realistic and supportive.
  • Freestyle – Simply notice the positives and decide on a cadence for recording them. Such a 1 per day or 3 per week. Or just simply keep a realistic record of your life, your successes and a focus on how you’ve overcome obstacles.
  • Pro/Con List – You can gain clarity about an issue by laying it out on paper, rather than cycling through it in your mind. Creating a list of pros and cons can make it easier to find solutions and approach the situation less emotionally.

Focus on Gratitude

If you’re feeling grateful it should be hard to also feel like a victim. One way gratitude can change your perspective quickly is by asking yourself, “Does someone on the planet have it worse than me right now?” It’s likely the answer is “yes.”

  • Write a Thank-You note to a friend or colleague.
  • Go out of your way to do something nice or useful for someone else.
  • Identify what you can learn from a difficult situation or challenging obstacle.

Reframing

Quite literally, change your negative perception of the situation into a positive outlook. Consider the bigger picture, or what someone else’s point of view may be. One way to do this is to replace “have to” with “get to.”

“Have to…” “Get to…”

I have to go to the grocery store.

I get to go to the grocery store, because I can provide food for my family.

I have to volunteer at my child’s class.

I get to help my child’s classroom and spend more time with my child.

I have to replace the tires on my car.

I get to replace the tires on my car, which gets me safely to work and helps me provide for my family.

Similar to the above, you can also simply focus on identifying the underlying positive aspects of the situation:

“Have to…” “Get to…”

My house is always a mess.

I’m grateful to have a roof over my head with running water and power.

Waiting tables is a dead-end job.

I’m learning valuable people skills in the areas of communication and relationship building.

I’m being forced to work overtime next week.

My role is so crucial to my boss that they need my support during additional hours next week.

Identify Your Strengths

Focusing on areas of strength instead of areas of weakness will help you reframe your mind and come up with creative solutions to the challenges you face.

Question Yourself

When you are facing an obstacle and wallowing in negativity, it can be helpful to question yourself. Use the following questions to greet negative thoughts with curiosity instead of fear:

  • What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
  • What is the hidden opportunity, or what can I learn from this situation?
  • How can I give value right now?
  • When have I faced a similar situation before? How did that turn out?
  • What is the worst-case scenario? And what are the consequences of the worst-case scenario?
  • What is one small step I can take to move forward or out of this situation today?

Examine Your Environment

Who you choose to spend your time with and what you spend your time doing will have a huge effect on your perspective. If you have influences in your life that drag you down rather than support you, it can be difficult to maintain a positive mindset. Carefully consider what you let into your mind via television, the internet, and various sources of information. Identify the 3 most negative people you spend time with, and the 3 most negative sources of information you spend time consuming. Think about ways you can start spending less time with those people and on those forms of entertainment. Consider how you can spend more of the time you have now freed up with a more positive source.

Avoid Thinking ‘Should’

Don’t focus on how things “should” be. This is a trap that can create unrealistic expectations and undermine happiness. Let go of the control over how an experience should go and enjoy the moment.

Focus on Progress Not Perfection

Perfection is the enemy of execution. Focus on what you do well. Focus on your progress and the path that you’re on and who you’re becoming. Acknowledging that you’re on a path towards growth is healthy. Shifting your perspective to a positive mindset takes time. Recognize and reward the progress that you have made so far.

What do you think?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

― Henry Ford

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