It’s so much easier to be positive when everything is going well. When you have no bumps in the road, you stay positive about what is happening and what you are doing. But, when a bump comes along, things can get stressful. And when a really big bump comes along – one so big that you can hardly see over it – you can get downright negative. The trick to keep moving towards the life you want is to stay positive. It helps you find ways over the bump and keeps you moving at the quickest pace possible on the road of life.
You can tell yourself to stay positive all you want, but that’s not going to get you the mindset that is actually geared towards being positive. Your mind is great at playing tricks on you and highlighting things in a really negative tone. But, using some simple techniques, you can start to stay positive no matter what happens in your life.
1. Pay Attention To Social Cues
It doesn’t take something negative to happen to make you feel negative. For instance, you can go from one person’s home where you feel great and then go to another person’s home – with no negative experiences in between – and suddenly feel horrible. That happens because of social cues and how we react to them.
When we are around others, we empathize with them, act like them, follow them, and do what they do. It’s human nature to balance out our energy with them and try to fit in, so even if we are feeling really, really good, someone with a negative energy and outlook can bring us down and make us feel really, really bad.
The worst part is we don’t even realize this half the time. We just feel grumpy and negative all of a sudden and we blame ourselves and our mindset for the problem. We think up random explanations, such as ‘I must be tired’, but the truth is that around positive people, we would still feel positive – no matter how tired we were.
Start paying attention to the social cues around you. They include:
– Speech: Someone who is in a negative state will show it in the way they talk. Obviously they will focus on negative things and not want to talk about positive things, but, they will also talk very low and sound depressed or they will talk loudly and quickly in their anger. They will also sigh or make other exasperated sounds that indicate they are not feeling positive. Stay aware for speech and vocal cues.
– Facial expression: Someone who is negative may look like they are smiling, but are they? Pay attention to their face when they genuinely smile. You will see the whole face shifts. A fake smile or a sarcastic smile looks quite different. During a fake smile, the eyes will stay the same as they try to force a smile on their face. During a sarcastic smile, their eyebrows will raise instead of go down like in a genuine smile. Moreover, there will be indications of sadness or other negative emotions in their facial tone. The more you watch facial expressions, the more you will be able to see the differences between negative and positive.
– Body language: Lastly, watch their body language. Do they cross their arms and keep their head down? Do they turn away from you and seem tense? These are signs that they are feeling negative and sending off some very negative vibes.
Once you start paying attention to social cues, you will have a better idea of how other people are feeling, and you can separate yourself from them instead of letting them influence how you feel too.
When you recognize that you are with a negative person or surrounded by negative people, stay in your own space. Be strong! See their negative mood but don’t become part of it, and allow yourself to experience your own thoughts and feelings despite what it happening around you.
2. Get Clear On Positive Consequences
A consequence is often viewed in a negative tone, but in definition, it is a result or effect of an action or condition. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing. There are many consequences of actions that turn out quite positive! You are probably very clear on negative consequences but not so much in the positive department. But, once you get clear on the positives, you can use consequences as a technique to stay positive.
For instance, if you lost your job tomorrow, you can probably think of a few negative consequences, such as not being able to pay bills, but what about positive consequences? Maybe you will find a better job. Maybe you will have to sell a house that you couldn’t really afford to keep anyways.
There are many positive consequences of job loss, but they can be hard to see without hindsight. Once you start getting clear on what they could be before hindsight kicks in, you will have a much easier time staying positive.
And you don’t have to focus on negative events to help you stay positive. You can focus on the positive consequences of the goals and habits you have set out for yourself to stay positive as you move towards achieving those goals or developing those habits.
For instance, let’s say you are starting a new business venture and you want to stay positive as you work long hours you are not used to working. You can get clear on the positive consequences, such as eventually having more freedom and more money to do what you want to do.
3. Pay Attention To Where You Put Your Attention
When you start to become aware of where you put your attention, you can start to change your life. Why? Because if your attention is on things that make you feel negative, and you become aware of that, then you can move it to things that help you stay positive.
For instance, if you are at a conference, and you are listening to a brilliant speaker talk about something you are very interested in, then your attention is on him and you feel good. But, if someone starts coughing right next to you and can’t stop, then your attention can be pulled towards them and off the speaker. You may start to get annoyed and upset, which will lead to thoughts about how much you spent on the conference and how much this person is ruining it! That can lead to a whole host of negative thoughts, and by the end of the conference you may feel absolutely horrible about everything that happened.
When you understand that where you put your attention has a big influence over your thoughts and attitude, you can become aware of when you are focusing on something that doesn’t deserve your attention and get it back on something that does. This applies to all things in life, big and small.
4. Get Clear On Your Habits
Are you doing things that help you stay positive or keep you stuck in a negative frame of mind? It’s important to take a look at your life because your habits and routines can affect how you feel in a big way.
For instance, the habit of complaining (and yes it is a habit) will always help you to stay negative, especially in times of unexpected events. Whereas the habit of positive self-talk can help you stay positive, even during unexpected or stressful times. Or, if you are in the habit of shutting down during hard times, then you will go to a negative place full of fear and worry. Whereas the habit of taking action on problems and facing them head on will help you cultivate more positive thoughts during hard times.
Your habits define you, and if you are not paying attention to what habits you really have in life that affect your thoughts, then you won’t have any control over how you feel in life. So, pay attention to what you habitually do that doesn’t help you stay positive and come up with some more positive habits to help you keep a positive frame of mind.
5. Pay Attention To Your Limiting Beliefs
Your limiting beliefs can put you in a very negative place where you start to think that you can’t have what you want and can’t succeed. They can also villainize the people around you in a way that affects your thinking in a very negative way.
For instance, if you have the belief that you can’t be a doctor – even though you want to be, then you are saying things to yourself like ‘I’m not smart enough to be a doctor’ or ‘I don’t have enough money to get the education’, which will make you feel bad. Then you can start to label doctors as privileged or people who think they know it all, which can cause you to view them in a very negative light.
Every time you hear yourself saying or thinking a belief, ask yourself if it is really true or not. Try to find proof that it’s not. Become curious about how you think. When you challenge your limiting beliefs you will start to develop new beliefs in their place, and because these new beliefs will always be more positive than limiting beliefs, they will have a higher chances of helping you stay positive no matter what happens.
6. Get Clear On How Long You React To Things
Bad things are going to happen to you. Bad thoughts are going to pass through your mind. Bad people are going to cross your path during the day. Your family is going to say rude things to you. Your friends are going to make you feel sad. And everything else that happens in life is going to get a reaction from you. Whether you stay positive or not will depend on how long you react to those things.
Yes, a negative reaction may be instant and unavoidable, but you can choose to put your head up high, wipe away the tears, and get busy moving on with the life you want. If you stay stuck in the reaction, you will stay stuck in a negative mindset. But, if you get moving on with your day, you can think and do things that help you stay in a positive frame of mind!
Therefore, pay attention to your reactions. See them as reactions that could keep you stuck in a negative state and choose to keep moving forward with your day.
7. Pay Attention To The Benefits
In the beginning, you may find that you have a hard time not getting stuck in a reactive state simply by the recognition that you are reacting. That’s where this one tool comes in handy.
When something happens, good or bad, write down one benefit of the experience. For instance, if it rains on a day that you plan an outside party, a benefit may be that you don’t have to set up outside anymore. Or maybe it will be that the annoying person who hates rain won’t show up to your party. Find the benefit, write it down, and let it soak in. This will put a break in your reaction long enough that you can snap out of it and start taking action towards something that helps you stay positive.
You can find as many benefits as you want, but one thing can definitely help. One study from the University of Miami found that volunteers felt better after listing just one benefit of a negative experience. It made them less stressed, happier, and even benefited their health. This is likely because it shifted their attention from the negatives and onto something more positive, just liked we talked about in point three.
8. Get Clear On Who You Want To Be
Do you want to be someone who stays positive no matter what happens? Or, do you want to be someone who complains and gets stuck in a negative mindset? It really depends on whether or not you want to fit in.
A lot of people want to fit in, which means they want to complain. Let’s face it, a crowd of people stuck on an elevator are more likely to complain than share their positive viewpoints. And, the person who does try to stay positive will likely wish they had kept their mouth shut at the amount of negativity that gets spewed their way.
People generally like to focus on the negative, especially in groups, so if that’s you and you want to fit in wherever you go, then you are never going to be able to stay positive. But, if you want to be someone who stays positive, no matter what, then that desire will help you do so.
Take the time to describe who you want to be and focus on it. For instance, do you want to be patient, kind, and loving? If yes, write that down and focus on who you want to be. Remember, what you focus on, you become.