I had a conversation with a client of mine the other day that was the inspiration in writing to you about positivity today.
Have you ever been annoyed when struggling with something, and someone says something along the lines of "just think positive!"
It feels easier said than done usually right?
This client of mine expressed that through our work together, she has actually created a habit of positivity more so than she ever has in her life, and through a story she told me, I heard that not only had she really changed this habit within herself, but that she was now also coaching a friend of hers on the habit of positivity, and it made my freaking day! She told me that she used to get annoyed when people would tell her to "just think positive!", and that now she gets it!
The truth is that thinking positive IS much easier said than done, but when you put in the work it takes to create the habit, it feels easier and life overall feels SO much easier, and that's a much bigger pay off in the end!
Creating a habit of positivity is quite literally creating a new neural pathway. The metaphor I always use is a sledding hill. If you have ever spent time sledding down a snow hill over & over (I grew up in Minnesota, so I relate to this one well!), you know that once you develop a smooth path through the snow with your sled, when you get to the top of the hill again, you simply set your sled down and you fly down that established path fast. If you want to create a new path, you need to set your sled down, and create a new one down the hill by sledding down the same new path over & over before it's like a luge to fly down with ease.....this is just how creating a new neural pathway works. If you are used to flying down the established path of negativity, that's what feels easy, but if you put in the work & time to repeatedly go down another path (positivity) that's what becomes easy.
You could also think of it like building a muscle. You need to do a lot of reps consistently for that muscle to grow strong.
So....how do you actually practice this? How do you build the muscle? What are the action steps to repeat? There are a lot of ways. Here are a few to work with:
1) Practice correcting negative thoughts. I refer to this as 'Flipping It' or 'Flipping the Script' or 'Reframing'. Whenever you find yourself thinking a negative thought, try to flip it around. Find the blessing in disguise, or the lesson in the struggle, or something positive surrounding whatever you are feeling negative about. There is always another perspective you can take on any situation, and with practice, you will be able to find that new perspective easier. An example: You lost your job. Initially, this might feel devastating. The positive spin maybe that losing your job creates the space for you to explore a career you’ve always dreamed about but been too afraid to make the leap towards? There is a positive side to everything. Find it. Flip it. Repeat. Keeping a journal where each night you write down a couple of examples where you flipped the script in your day can help to create the habit more quickly, as it's a great way to keep the practice activity in your mind. Commit to the practice for a period of time & see how things shift for you.
2) Share good news. Have something good going on? Tell people about it! Studies show that sharing happy events bring more happiness! On the flip side of that, ask the people in your life what's good with them? We can all have a tendency towards focusing on sharing the things we are struggling with. Practice focusing more on the positives in your conversations. One of my favorite greetings to use when I see people is " What's good?" It's a fresh change from the traditional "how are you doing" which most people answer without even thinking about it.
3) Make it a practice to give compliments! Give them away freely. Purposely look for the good in others. Praise the people you interact with. Give strangers compliments! Be sure these are genuine compliments, of course! Make a point to do so several times daily. This really rewires us to look for the good in people, and in turn, it encourages the goodness! Also, compliment yourself! You could also implement a journaling practice where you write yourself a few compliments on your day! Think of the things that you are proud of.
4) Keep a gratitude journal. Everyday list at least 5 things that you were grateful for in your day. Gratitude creates happiness & positivity. Keeping a journal helps to keep gratitude in the forefront of your mind. Don't like the idea of journaling? Maybe at the dinner table every evening, everyone shares what they were grateful for in their day? Or maybe you have a good friend that you text your gratitudes to daily? However, you can create the habit that feels best for you.
5) Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. This includes the conversations and the daydreams you have all day! Be kind to your mind!
6) Purposefully spend more time around others that have glass half full attitudes, and restrict your time with those that have a glass half empty attitude. Just as you are what you eat, to a certain degree, you are who you spend time with as well! Choose wisely!
Life is always going to feel hard in many ways. There's no avoiding it. What we do have control over is practicing how we respond to it, and it takes practice to respond positively.
Wishing you a positively beautiful rest of your week,