12 Ways To Stay Positive During Difficult Times
In today’s world we are regularly bombarded with bad news.
Even if you are doing fine in your personal life, it is hard to escape the impact of all the incoming negative information.
It is within this climate that we are challenged to become or remain hopeful, enthusiastic and positive about our future and the future of the ones we love.
Staying positive is not easy but it can be done.
The most important thing to know about staying positive is that it takes a conscious and consistent effort to maintain.
The Negativity Bias
Our brain and the nervous system that it is so thoroughly connected to it have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with the express purpose of keeping us alive. This has been made possible by what has come to be known as the brain’s negativity bias.
We humans have been kept alive by thinking that there are things we need to watch out for (negative things) that might harm us. We have developed a natural tendency therefore to think (or worry) that bad things will happen.
It also turns out that the more we worry and think bad things will happen the more likely we will develop pathways in the brain that foster the habit or pattern of negative thinking.
Therefore we are, from the very start, somewhat handicapped.
Although we may have a negativity bias built into our brain we also have knowledge about how patterns are formed and how habits can be changed.
There are strategies you can use and ways to train your mind to think differently going forward. You may want to think of this endeavor as a brain game where you write the rules.
People who win at this game realize that it is not just repeating some affirmations or smiling all the time that creates a positive mindset. They recognize that whatever the circumstances they may have to face and whatever the conditions it is up to them to make the best of it.
A positive attitude is created by the person who takes control over his thinking and his choices.
12 Of The Best Ways To Stay Positive
- Stay away from Whiners: The quickest way to get brought down is to be in the company of negative-minded complainers. These are people who indulge in a type of self-pitying or highly critical dialogue that tends to poison themselves and those around them. Don’t let yourself get stressed or sucked into the black hole of discontent by associating with the wrong type of person.
- Take a news break: Stop watching, reading or listening to bad or negative news for 1 week. Replace that habit with something upbeat and positive like watching a comedy show, reading something educational or having conversations with loved ones.
- Keep motivated: Take time every day (30 minutes to an hour) to read, watch and/or listen to motivational material. We are constantly being bombarded with negative messages that ultimately take a toll on our enthusiasm and beat us down. Motivational material (books, videos) can help to offset the incoming destructive messages.
- Keep things in perspective: Look at your “true” picture. Take complete stock of your situation and don’t let your emotions make a disaster out of a non-disaster. Once things are in perspective you may become aware of some new options you did not previously see.
- Think things through: Don’t be a hasty decision maker. In stressful times we need to take a step back to truly evaluate a situation. The more anxious, irritated or desperate you feel the less likely you will be able to make a good decision and exercise sound judgment.
- Spend time with people you love: Sounds obvious but some of us tend to isolate when we are stressed and feeling negative. Choose friends or relatives who will help to lift your spirits. If you have kids spend more time playing with them.
- Recognize what you already have: This may sound like a cliché because it is but that does not make it wrong! Spend some time identifying all the good things you already have in your life. If your self esteem feels low being grateful for all the good things you have can help with an attitude correction. It is far better to focus on what you would like to create rather than what you do not have.
- Be creative: Don’t be lazy! If you’ve tried something and it hasn’t worked, develop a new way. Read about others who are having success, talk to people you admire and get some help in developing fresh ideas.
- Have fun/reward yourself: Break away, enjoy yourself and laugh as much as possible. When you have accomplished something good, reward yourself for your effort. Go to a movie, have dinner with friends or even buy something you’ve wanted.
- Help somebody: Spend a little time helping others, especially those less fortunate than you. Not only will it likely make you feel better but it will also help to put things in perspective.
- Surround yourself with success: Find inspiring quotations from people you admire and pictures of places and people that make you happy. Place these items around your desk, near your bed and in your car. The point is to always have physical reminders of things you feel positive about in close proximity. Looking at these regularly will go a long way to programming your mind to refocus and stay positive.
- Focus on what you can change and let go of what you can’t: When faced with a distressing situation ask yourself if you really have control over the events. If you do, change what you can. If you don’t, learn to let it go and move on. Adaptation to circumstances and making the most out of them will help you to feel back in control again.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with individuals, couples and business partners helping them to resolve conflict, stay positive and create great relationships.