When you’re faced with adversity, you have two choices: Focus on the negative and wonder why you’re always dealt such a rotten hand in life; or focus on the positive and search for the lesson in every situation. Life is truly about the choices you make and choosing a positive or negative outlook is very much in your control.
Why is Positivity so Important?
Barbara Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina and her research has proven that positive and negative thoughts each have an effect on our brains. Those with a positive outlook on life are open to more possibilities, look for opportunities to succeed, and are better problem solvers. Those with a negative outlook, however, focus strictly on the negative feelings or thoughts, which can lead to self-doubt, self-esteem issues, or depression. They also see fewer opportunities to escape their negativity.
Build Your Skillset with Positivity
Positive emotions also lead us toward activities that will broaden our skills, which can benefit us for years into the future. Take the example of a young football player. In elementary school, he simply loved to run and play with friends. These joyful and carefree activities drove him to join a team at a young age, where he developed his athleticism, his listening ability, and his team spirit.
Even though the work on the football field increased as he grew older, he developed a sense of accomplishment after practice or big games. He respected his teammates and coaches and learned about teamwork. This football player will carry all these traits with him throughout his life and each one stemmed from those positive emotions of having fun with his friends.
As you can imagine, a negative outlook at a young age can have quite the opposite effect, with the child doubting his abilities and feeling jealous of his friends who are playing while he sits on the sidelines. As this child grows up, there’s a strong possibility that he’ll become insecure and struggle with anxiety, which can lead to difficulties finding a job or a relationship.
How to Find the Silver Lining in Every Situation
Everyday life is not filled with unicorns and rainbows. Life throws you curve balls which are not always easy to recover from. Unexpected occurrences can throw your day off kilter. Anger and frustration are natural emotions which should be acknowledged; however, the key is to put those negative emotions aside and focus on digging yourself out of the hole you fell into.
Step One is to find gratitude in the situation as being grateful naturally pushes you into a positive mindset. If you’re involved in a fender bender car accident, for example, be grateful you can walk away without injury. Or be grateful the damage to your car is limited to just the bumper. Be grateful the kids weren’t in the car with you. No matter how big the situation, find a glimmer of hope in your gratitude.
Step Two is to look for the lesson that is taught. In the car example above, the lesson may be to keep more distance between cars or to be less distracted while driving. Maybe you’ve sent out 10 proposals to new prospects and all 10 have rejected your proposals. Your lesson is to look more closely at your offers and your pricing and make tweaks to attract more people.
Step Three is to practice self-care every day. Five minutes of meditation or a 10-minute walk at lunchtime can do wonders to clear your mind, improve your focus, and invite some positive vibes into your mind.
Have no fear: You CAN learn how to become an optimist, even if you’ve spent years stuck in your pessimism. Just treat yourself well and allow yourself time to train your brain to be grateful and to find the lesson in each event.
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