Positivity is a huge buzz word, it’s something we’re told by personal development gurus that we should all have in abundance.
A positive attitude, a positive frame of mind, a glass half-full, and that all illusive ‘sunny disposition’ that is the pinnacle of positivity. We are told that positivity is the golden goose of productivity and the source of our success.
Really, I mean really – is it even normal for one human to be that positive?
Well, if you watch social media or read personal development books you could be forgiven for thinking that there is something seriously wrong with you if you are not constantly happy and upbeat.
We tend to see these ‘positive people’ as something different from us, they are people who have their s**t together and if we were all only a bit more like them….., then…, ah yes then, we could be one of the worthy, positive, productive successful ones with shiny, happy, perfect lives.
The truth is, as we all know but often choose to ignore, very different.
Positivity gurus too have their negative days, days that are not so shiny and bright. Yet part of us (or the rest of us – hence this blog title) doesn’t really want to acknowledge that truism. Many of us actually want to continue to believe that they (the positivity gurus) have something we don’t and so we almost allow ourselves an excuse to hang on to our often negative patterns of thought.
We all understand, as research suggests that a more positive attitude can influence our lives in a beneficial way, for example:
• our overall mental health improves
• our ability to manage our responses to everyday events improves
• our ability to manage stress improves
• our relationships with the people around us are enhanced
• and if law of attraction is your thing – positive people attract positive events
So how do we with normal lives, boring jobs, cats, kids, bills, and washing machines you need a degree in engineering to operate, how can we, (the rest of us) start our positivity journey?
Well I would suggest slowly, and no, I’m not being flippant.
Part of the reason many of us get so frustrated with positivity is that we find it difficult to maintain our levels of commitment to remaining optimistic. It’s a bit like a diet, not too bad on day one, but on day three you want to eat your own arm, so you (or perhaps it’s just me) end up eating two (o.k. four) chocolate bars on the trot – result = diet blown, and not to be revisited until two weeks before your next exotic summer holiday or family wedding.
Your positivity muscle memory needs building, strengthening and nurturing. So start small – One of my favourite ways to start the positivity ball rolling is with noticing something positive in others.
Anything will be a start, admiring someone’s shoes, tie, bag, eyes, and hair, anything that catches your eye. You don’t have to be in total admiration of the item, trait, or accoutrement, just appreciate something. I do this when I find myself getting frustrated with my fellow humans on public transport or when shopping, or in a queue (for those of you who are not British – we queue – a lot). I’m not suggesting you go around staring at people, just try subtlety picking out something positive about someone a few times a day and notice what happens after a couple of days.
Other simple changes you can make that will helps cultivated a more positive mind-set might be:
- Value something small first thing in the morning – savour and appreciate that morning coffee (or tea), think how lucky and privileged you are to be able to make a lovely warm drink to get you moving in the morning
- Within half an hour of waking up pick one thing about yourself that you like. It could be anything, it doesn’t matter if you can only choose your fingernails on certain days – but pick something and focus on what you like about it…….
• At least once a week do something you’re good at– we all have something (DIY, cooking, knitting, model railways) it matters not what it is, but acknowledge this talent as a positive aspect of your life
• Get a little exercise – yoga, a walk, some simple stretching, even if you only do five minutes a day. It will be five minutes that you can feel positive about
• Do something simple that you enjoy, listen to your favourite album, potter in the garden, watch your favourite film, read, whatever it is make sure it is a positive experience
• Become aware of where you carry your tension – I carry mine in my toes, bizarrely when I am stressed they curl under (who knew). Start to notice where in your body you carry stress and then consciously relax that part. This will help to move from a negative stress state to a more positive calm state
Cleary there are many more small changes you could make on a daily or weekly basis that will help strengthen your positivity muscle, and I know that many of the above ideas are not new. However, what I do want to convey is the importance of starting small with something that you can repeat on a daily basis.
Changes take time and it’s the little everyday actions that gradually build momentum.
So perhaps not straight away, but over time you will build up to the level of positivity you have been reaching for. You can be the one to whom people say, with a tinge of envy ‘how come you are always so upbeat and positive’? Then the question becomes how will you respond? Will it be with ‘oh it just comes naturally’ or perhaps it might be ‘because every day I chose to be’.
I would love to know what strategies you use to help develop a more positive attitude? Leave a comment below and let everyone know what works for you – let’s not go it alone, let’s share our positivity top tips in the comments below.