“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill
Being positive does not come naturally for me. In fact I’m sure those that know me best would tell you I have supreme grumpiness talents. But I really do want to improve in this area. In February I went to a “silks” exercise class while visiting my youngest daughter. Beautiful cloth hung from the ceiling and was available for us to climb, entwine and do graceful moves in. The teacher was happy and positive. She announced as class began that she wouldn’t allow any negative talk in her class- not about the exercises- not about our efforts-not about ourselves. She threatened that if she heard one negative word the offender would be sentenced to 100 push ups. Well I don’t know about you but on a good day I can only pump out about 5 push ups in poor form so you better believe I was Positive Polly in class. And you know what? I had more fun and was probably even able to accomplish a bit more having to frame my words and thoughts positively.
You guessed it! We are going to start this 8 weeks of healthy living with an attitude adjustment.
Step One: Believe a Positive Attitude is a Choice
As much as we avoid it we know it’s true. While we may tend to be more positive or negative by nature- ultimately we do have great control. It’s easy to blame our negativity on all kinds of outside forces—fate, experiences, mental health, relationships—but truly we can choose to be more positive.
When we find ourselves in a less than ideal situation, it’s up to us to find the good, to be positive regardless of what’s happening around us, to find the silver lining in the cloud. Avoid the tendency to point fingers and place blame. Remember that things happen how they happen, and it’s up to us to choose how we want to feel and express those feelings. Ultimately we are in control of our attitude, and no one can take that away from us.
Step Two: Rid Your Life of Negativity
If you want to live a positive, joyful life, you cannot be surrounded by negative people who don’t encourage your happiness.
I have a new friend that is incredibly positive. Honestly she is like a ray of sunshine. And I notice that her example inspires me toward more positive thinking.
No one is perfect—and perfection isn’t the goal when it comes to positivity—but if you find some of your friends are constantly pointing out flaws, complaining about problems and moaning about life you may need to stop spending so much time with them. Or, better yet come right out and challenge them to stop it! Perhaps you can work at reminding each other of your new effort to look on the bright side.
It’s hard to live a positive life when negative people continually pull you down. Take steps to eliminate the negativity hitting you from outside.
Step Three: Look For the Positive in Life
In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Often it’s not obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard.
Don’t just fall into the quick complaint or drift into easy negativity. Look harder until you find something good even if it is teenie tiny.
Everything—good and bad—is a learning experience so, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something genuinely positive, about every person or situation.
Step Four: Reinforce Positivity in Yourself
Now that we are on the path to positivity it’s important to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors so they will stick. As with any sort of training, the more you practice, the better you get—and, yes, you can practice being positive.
The best and probably most important way to do this is to be positive when it comes to yourself. Tell yourself you’re awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself you did a great job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do.
Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. And, whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. It’s okay to not like everything about yourself, but don’t focus on what you don’t like. We all have positive attributes, and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.
Step Five: Share Positivity with Others
Not only do you need to be positive with yourself but you need to be positive with others.
We really can all step up our game in this area. Be nice to other people, no matter what. Greet people with a smile. Find something to sincerely compliment them about. Give voice to every positive thought you have.
Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are. When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send an upbeat text. Send flowers. Write an encouraging e-mail. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things.
All of these things sound basic enough, and don’t require a huge effort but they don’t come easily. Make the extra effort.
Sometimes we can get feeling that because we don’t see the good in ourselves we don’t want to see it in others either. We can even sink to being critical or condescending. Instead let’s strive to be encouraging and supportive.
When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, remind yourself that all it takes is one small step in the right direction to move yourself toward a more positive attitude. Let’s all try a little harder to be a little more positive.
For those of you taking part in your first Healthy Living Challenge I encourage you to:
1. Contact your partner every day. Phone, text, go for a walk, send her a joke but do something for each other every day to keep yourself focused on the challenge and making positive progress
Our challenge for Week #1 is to:
1. Make a grand effort to avoid ALL negative thoughts and words.
2. Say AND write something positive about yourself every day (positive writing can be done on myfitnesspal.com, on your facebook page, in your journal etc.)
3. Say AND write something positive about someone else every day. This can be as simple as a smiley face text or as in depth as a heartfelt letter to someone you have long admired!
For every day you seek these 4 positive experiences (1 positive writing and 1 positive comment about yourself + 1 positive writing and 1 positive comment about someone else daily) you can earn the 5 bonus points for that day.