We’ve often marveled at the profound value of positive thinking. The ability to see one’s life in a positive light translates to a good life, perhaps to a greater extent than “positive” circumstances.
Think about the people in your life you admire most. What qualities do they possess? Optimism? Curiosity? Joyfulness? One common denominator that I wager each of them possesses is a positive outlook.
Positivity transmits a magnetism that attracts others. It’s more than a happy-go-lucky attitude — it’s choosing to put forth your passion, your skills, your beauty, your love and your mojo into all your relationships and undertakings. A positive mindset favorably colors the lens through which you view your life.
Better still, positivity is an attitude that you can mine — like discovering a vein of gold and following it to increase your riches. It may not always feel like it, but you do have tremendous influence over the shape of your life. The more conscious you become of how you approach life — such as your way of thinking, of relating, of tackling responsibilities, and of connecting to something bigger than yourself — the more you are able to make adjustments that bring you more optimism and fulfillment.
Invite positivity into your life using these eight essential tools:
1. Follow the good. Look and listen for positive news and fascinating ideas, and then latch onto them, talk about them, share them and savor them. Imagine you just tapped into a vein of gold, and now you can follow that vein. Jump from one good thing to the next. Make a game out of it.
2. Generate more positivity in the world. This is especially important if you find it hard to generate your own optimism. Point the people around you toward the positive, even if you feel dark inside. Create the vein of positivity by asking people about their lives, their kids, their passions and their dreams. You’ll ignite a light in someone else that will lead you in the right direction. Then keep doing it. Deliver genuine compliments. Help others to see the bright side of whatever they’re grappling with. It’s often easier to do for others than for yourself.
3. Move out of the darkness. Cultivating the positive is a matter of choosing to not veer toward the dark side. Catch yourself indulging in negativity and discipline yourself to shift your attention to something else. It’s like breaking an addiction. Notice which of your friends or family members have a “this sucks” mentality and 1) hang out with them less — this is especially important if you feel incapable of staying upbeat in their presence; 2) find the humor in their perennial negativity, like Eeyore in Winnie-the-Pooh, and laugh inside; 3) don’t let them enroll you or let you veer from your vein of positivity. Also, choose your media consciously. Stop watching feel-bad videos and avoid tragic news unless it truly serves a purpose.
4. Tweet, post and comment responsibly. The stories and opinions that you choose to share shape who you are in the world — and who and what you attract. Are you a positive influence on your environment or a negative one? Before you post, look at what you’ve written. If it’s snarky or amounts to “Doesn’t this suck?” just delete it. You won’t feel any regret.
5. Tap into the humor. Respond with humor to situations that would otherwise make you angry, irritated or anxious. Don’t risk relinquishing the vein of gold by engaging with some annoyance in an adversarial way. Be imperturbable. Go on a drama fast. Stay committed to your positivity.
6. Stop looking for the problems. Lose the belief that finding problems and errors makes you smart or likable. People who enjoy finding what’s wrong with everything rarely care about looking for solutions.
7. Know what you want. Most of us spend so much time thinking about our current problems and the future situations we hope to avoid that we end up with a clear sense of what we don’t want, but little sense of what we do want. Know with laser-like precision what kind of life you want and replace the habit of dwelling on what you don’t want or have with savoring what you do have and eagerly anticipate will come.
8. Don’t expect to feel constantly happy. If you’re in a funk, focusing on the disparity between how you’re feeling and how you think you should be feeling will usually make you feel worse. For example, if you were to rate yourself as a two out of ten on the happiness scale, you’re more likely to be successful if you shoot for a three instead of a ten. Often, you can accomplish this incremental progress by simply ceasing to fight what you’re experiencing. Accept it. Breathe. Stop making it wrong. Tell yourself, “This is just what I’m feeling in this moment. I’m open to the possibility of feeling a little bit better.” If you make it to a three, aim next for a four. Look for some beauty you can appreciate. Let go of some negativity, even if just for a moment. See if there’s someone else you can turn your attention to instead of yourself. The gold vein may sometimes feel like a very fine thread, but it can widen into a rich vein once again.
Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten are the authors of the new book, The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace (Adams Media, December 2, 2016). They are also the creators of the Rituals of Living online community and Dragontree, a holistic wellness brand. Briana is a Mastery Coach with an extensive background in coaching clients to help them reach personal breakthrough and mastery. Peter is a doctor of Asian medicine who helps people attain whole health of body and mind. He has authored hundreds of articles, spanning topics such as stress, emotional wellness, nutrition, fitness, and our connection with nature. Learn more at: www.thedragontree.com.