As true as this is:
"We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are“ ...
You can’t just wake up one day and say: "OK, from now on I’ll have a more positive outlook on life“ and live happily ever after. It can work during good days, but during tough times or just on a rainy day you get back to your old habits.
Because the spin you put on life (and everything) is a matter of habit. And, just like with any habit, you have to work on making it more stable, on fully adopting it in order to always stay constructive and keep pushing towards something better.
So here are 4 best and most effective habits shared by those commonly recognized as positive thinkers - while reading, try to think about how you could adopt them yourself:
1. Choose your environment
We’re not islands, and people we spend time with have a huge capacity to shape our outlook, just like our sources of information. If they’re mostly negative, cynical, critical, threatening... we get dragged into the same way of looking at things.
Our mind processes the info we expose it to, so be careful about what you let into it.
Examine who are the most negative people you spend your time with, what sources of information provide you most negative stories... and then start spending less time with those people and on those information sources.
The time you free up that way, choose to spend it with most positive people you know.
This doesn’t have to be some drastic cut, but keep in mind that it’s something important for you. If you find that it’s absolutely necessary to be exposed to negative people and information, the very least you can do for yourself is to be aware of it and not let them influence you.
2. Find something good in a negative situation
This could sound too simple, but just finding an optimistic viewpoint and sticking to it can drastically change the way you’ll handle a negative situation.
There’s always something positive in any situation, and there’s always something you can learn from it. So instead of focusing on how much you suck and how things could go even worse, focus on these things.
Caveat here: don’t force optimistic thinking while you’re still in an emotional turmoil, it takes time to process disturbing thoughts and feelings and doing this right away probably won’t work that well.
One trick that helps me stay calm(er) in negative situations however is to focus on that moment afterwards, when I’ll be able to process it, and to find an immediate comfort in knowing that everything’s going to be OK, this way or the other.
Try it, it really works.
3. Pinpoint the fears holding you back from doing what you want
Taking chances in life is something you want to do if you want to move forward. It could be asking someone out for a date, or starting your own business, or anything else.
And many times you find yourself wanting to do it, but getting lost in vague fears about what could happen then. So you do nothing, and most often you regret it.
One way to overcome this is to clearly define the fear. What’s the worst that could happen? What are you afraid of?
Then you could even spend some time (not a lot) figuring out what you could do if that happens. This way you’re dissolving your fear – you’re turning it from a vague nightmare your mind produced to something you can realistically handle... and you’ll usually discover that it’s not nearly as scary.
And you’ll be able to move past it and to step out of your comfort zone.
4. Stay mindful
Have you recently stopped to think about how much of your day you’re spending not being present in it? Thinking about the past, daydreaming, trying to figure out what’s going on in someone else’s head... doing anything but living the moment you’re in right now.
This habit is particularly harmful if you’re letting yourself replay failures and mistakes from the past. Really, what good can come out of it? You’re basically persuading yourself that your pessimism is justified, and again paralyzing yourself into inaction.
Two practical ways to create a new habit:
Slow down. Going too fast makes stress build up, and you lose a great deal of your personal power. Instead, start your morning slowly, and try to do the same with the rest of your day.
Reconnect with the present moment. If you notice that you’re going too fast in your thinking, walking, eating... – force yourself to slow down and to just focus on what’s going on around you. Just for a minute or two, but it will make your body and your mind calm down, and it’ll be easier to take back control and to find a constructive perspective.
Don’t over-complicate things. After all, it takes the same amount of energy to keep a pessimistic outlook as it is to nurture a more positive and constructive vision . It’s only a matter of choice and refocus – and it’s all totally up to you!
PS A bonus tip: Remember to correct your posture as often as you can, you’ll be surprised to see how much better it makes you feel!