Being a positive person isn’t always easy. In fact, it takes a lot of practice. Contrary to what some people believe, positivity isn’t about seeing everything through rose colored glasses or ignoring negative feelings. Sometimes our days truly stink and it’s important to stop and feel those emotions. Equally important, but sometimes missing from our emotional toolbox, is what we decide to do afterwards.
Taking small steps to experience more good feelings is a great approach to strengthening our positivity muscle:
1) Start with making a list of the things that make you feel good about yourself, happy, alive, and/or puts a smile on your face. Brainstorm and keep adding to the list until you run out of ideas. There are no bad ideas!
2) Go through that list and circle the activities/states of being/etc. that deeply resonate with you.
3) Chose one of those items (let’s say it’s playing with your dog at the park) and make a commitment to choose one day this week where you’ll practice this activity. Set an intention and increase your liklihood of doing it by writing down the day of the week, the approximate time, and for how long you will engage in this activity.
4) Notice you how feel during and after the activity.
5) Build up to practicing this activity as many times per week/day that you’d like. Once a certain level feels comfortable, increase the number.
6) Choose another item from your list and repeat the process.
By increasing these feel good activities, you’ll build up your positivity muscle.
Here are some of the items on my list that get me out of my negative thinking and feeling patterns and into a positive state:
- spending time with positive family and friends
- dancing, especially in a class format because I get to see other people smiling and feeling good
- watching an inspirational TedTalk, video, or movie
- reading an inspirational book, poem, article or online posts
- creating a mantra that focuses on the positive aspects of my life
- reciting that or another mantra for as long as it takes for my mood to shift
- exercising, especially outdoors because I get to experience nature (another positive boosting activity)
- journaling about all the good things that I have going for me (nothing is too small and should never be taken for granted)
- practicing Loving Kindness Meditation where I offer kindess, love, and happiness to myself, people I know and love, strangers, and finally people who I may not have the easiest time with. Not only is this type of meditation excellent for improving health conditions, studies also show it helps to rewire the brain to feel positive emotions more often.
Positivity is a state of mind. It takes practice for our brains to not only learn, but sustain a new way of thinking. If we grew up with a lot of negative emotions, it’s natural that when we are stressed we default to negative thinking patterns that trigger the bad feelings. They are uncomfortable, but familiar and sometimes familiar is easier to deal with. It’s really a human instinct to be on the lookout for the negative and searching for danger. So naturally, it will take time and practice to learn a new way of being. Starting small is key. For the last ten years, I’ve been on a quest to decrease the bad feelings and increase the good ones. It’s really a never ending journey because there’s no shortage of experiences and events that can bring us down on any given day. By simply practicing the items on your list on a routine basis, positivity starts to become your reality.
Need a good reason to start today? Something later on today or tomorrow is bound to come up that triggers a negative feeling. When you increase your positive emotions, you’ll be better equipped to take on whatever that event is and you’ll be able to bounce back from it faster. So practice every day to make positivity a reality for you!
And if you liked this post, please share with your friends and family and spread the positivity cheer! (Facebook and LinkedIn share button coming soon!)
Until next time,