It’s difficult to find the motivation to spotlight the positive when positivity seems like only wishful thinking.
We’ve all received the well-meaning advice to “stay positive.” The higher the task, the more this glass-half-full wisdom will come across as Pollyannaish and unrealistic. It’s difficult to find the motivation to spotlight the positive when positivity seems like only wishful thinking.
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The true obstacle to positivity is our brains are hard-wired to find and concentrate on threats. This survival mechanism served humankind well when we were hunters and gatherers, living every day with the real risk of being killed by someone or something inside our immediate surroundings.
That was eons ago. Today, this mechanism breeds pessimism and negativity through the mind’s tendency to wander until it finds a threat. These “threats” magnify the perceived likelihood that things ‘re going — and/or are likely to go — poorly. When the threat is real and lurking in the bushes down the road, this mechanism serves you well. When the threat is imagined and you may spend 8 weeks convinced the project you’re focusing on will probably flop, this mechanism leaves you with a soured view of reality that wreaks havoc in your daily life.
Maintaining positivity is a daily challenge that will require focus and attention. You need to be intentional about staying positive if you’re likely to overcome the brain’s tendency to spotlight threats. It won’t happen unintentionally.
Pessimism is trouble because it’s harmful to your wellbeing. Numerous studies show that optimists are physically and psychologically healthier than pessimists.
Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has conducted extensive research on this issue. Seligman caused researchers from Dartmouth and the University of Michigan on a report that followed folks from age 25 to 65 to observe how their degrees of pessimism or optimism influenced their general health. The researchers discovered that pessimists’ health deteriorated a lot more rapidly because they aged.
Seligman’s findings act like research conducted by the Mayo Clinic that found optimists have lower degrees of coronary disease and longer life-spans. Although the precise mechanism by which pessimism affects health hasn’t been identified, researchers at Yale and the University of Colorado discovered that pessimism is connected with a weakened immune response to tumors and infection.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky went as far as to inject optimists and pessimists with a virus to measure their immune response. The researchers found optimists had a stronger immune response than pessimists.
Keeping a good attitude isn’t just best for your wellbeing. Martin Seligman in addition has studied the bond between positivity and performance. In a single study specifically, he measured the amount to which insurance salespeople were optimistic or pessimistic within their work. Optimistic salespeople sold 37 percent more policies than pessimists, who were doubly likely to leave the business throughout their first year of employment.
Seligman has studied positivity a lot more than anyone, and he believes in the opportunity to turn pessimistic thoughts and tendencies around with simple effort and know-how. But Seligman doesn’t just believe this. His research demonstrates people can transform a tendency toward pessimistic thinking into positive thinking through simple techniques that induce lasting changes in behavior long once they are discovered.
Listed below are three things that I’ll be doing this season to remain positive.
1. Separate fact from fiction.
The first rung on the ladder in learning to concentrate on the positive requires focusing on how to avoid negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on mental poison, the more power you provide them with. Most of our mental poison are simply that — thoughts, not facts.
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If you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to fully stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and jot down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken an instant to decelerate the negative momentum of your ideas, you may be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity. Consider these statements to see if they’re factual. You can bet the statements aren’t true if you see words like never, always, worst, ever, etc.
You don’t always lose your keys? Of course not. Perchance you forget them frequently, but most days you remember them. Are you never likely to look for a solution to your trouble? If you are really that stuck, maybe you’ve been resisting requesting help. Or if it truly is an intractable problem, then why are you wasting your time and effort beating your mind against the wall? If your statements still appear to be facts once they’re in some recoverable format, take them to a pal or colleague you can trust and see if she or he agrees with you. Then your truth will surely turn out.
When it feels as though something always or never happens, that is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of a meeting. Identifying and labeling your ideas as thoughts by separating them from the reality can help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.
2. Identify a positive.
Once you snap yourself out of self-defeating, mental poison, it’s time to greatly help your brain learn what you would like it to spotlight — the positive.
This should come naturally after some practice, but first you will need to give your wandering brain just a little help by consciously selecting something positive to take into account. Any positive thought can do to refocus your brain’s attention. When things ‘re going well, as well as your mood is good, that is not too difficult. When things ‘re going poorly, as well as your mind is flooded with mental poison, this is often a challenge. In these moments, consider your day and identify one positive thing that happened, regardless of how small. In the event that you can’t think about something from the existing day, reflect on the prior day or even the prior week. Or simply there can be an exciting event you want to forward to that you could concentrate on.
The idea here is you’ll want something positive that you’re prepared to shift your focus on whenever your thoughts turn negative. The first step stripped the energy from mental poison by separating fact from fiction. Second step is to displace the negative with a positive. When you have identified a positive thought, draw your focus on that thought every time you end up dwelling on the negative. If that proves difficult, you can repeat the procedure of recording the mental poison to discredit their validity, and allow you to ultimately freely enjoy positive thoughts.
3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” move to make; it reduces the strain hormone cortisol by 23 percent. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, discovered that individuals who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and substantially less anxiety because of lower cortisol levels.
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You cultivate an attitude of gratitude by firmly taking time out each day to spotlight the positive. If you experience negative or pessimistic thoughts, utilize this as a cue to shift gears and consider something positive. With time, a positive attitude can be a means of life.
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I realize these three tips sound incredibly basic, however they have tremendous power because they train the human brain to possess a positive focus. They break old habits, in the event that you force yourself to utilize them. Given the mind’s natural tendency to wander toward mental poison, we are able to all use just a little help with staying positive.