“A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”
Whenever I come across the word positive it reminds me of a movie where one of the two protagonists always told the other one to “be positive.” Now, when I reflect on this affirmative phrase it makes me ponder is it really positive? The phrase itself and also our ability to remain positive all the time… The answer is near to yes because being positive is a choice. For example- a company’s CEO might have all the wealth in the world yet they might not be satisfied with whatever is happening with them whereas a not so well-off person might be satisfied with whatever income they have and their current life situation altogether.
This raises another question, “Is being positive linked to being satisfied?” If your answer was close to yes, then congratulations!
· The first step to lead a positive life is to accept your current situation and acknowledge your emotions towards it; whether good or bad.
· The second step is to gain an insight into the situation. If the situation is harming you then you should look out for ways to alter it and if you cannot change the situation, there is still hope, you need to change your outlook towards it. This can be achieved by various means such as positive self-talk, therapy, venting out to a confidant, journaling, meditation/yoga/ exercise etc.
The other day, I was chatting to a friend of mine who in the middle of the conversation popped up with this question, “How are you so sorted and positive all the time?” Her question reminded me of my initial days at therapy when I asked my therapist the same question to which he answered that everyone has problems in their life, you just choose to focus on the light, on the solution.” His statement left a huge impression on my mind. It helped me distinguish between negative and positive and happy and sad. One can be positive when they are happy but a it takes a strong mind to show fortitude by remaining positive and hopeful during a sad episode. Being positive means being hopeful.
Some strategies to adopt in order to remain authentically positive-
1. Avoid toxic positivity- Here comes another challenge! Many people find it difficult to accept the situation and thus, acknowledge their emotions towards it. They might try to deny the existence of the situation in the name of remaining positive. This tendency to deny the existence of a disturbing situation is termed as toxic positivity. For example- a person shares about their bad days with someone and gets to hear that there are many people out there who don’t have access to food and you are crying over a bad day. A more refines example, often people who express their suicidal tendencies with are told to stop thinking about it.
2. Cry it out- Often people who cry, are told to stop crying. Thus, failing to understand that crying is as natural as smiling, just two opposite sides of one coin. It is the healthiest way one can vent out their emotions of sadness, anger, happiness etc. Unfortunately, there is also a social stigma attached to crying, which pushes especially men into the definition of weak. Crying helps us to communicate what we’re feeling in a way that language cannot. A 2013 survey by Gwenda Simons at the University of Oxford, found that when people allow or encourage themselves to cry (“up-regulation”), it’s usually in the service of achieving catharsis. Hippocrates theorized that the function of crying is to release “ill humors” from the brain and Aristotle wrote that crying “cleanses the mind.” Sometimes we need to feel worse before we can feel better, and crying helps to get us there.
3. Positive self-talk- Another way to remain positive is engaging in positive self-talk. Emotionally intelligent people ace in positive self-talk because of a high self -esteem. A greater part of positive self- talk involves restructuring your cognition (here, thoughts) in order to prevent the morbid thoughts that your mind is presently creating. For example, “you might think that you are incapable of achieving your dream job, a positive replacement to this thought would be how much have I achieved for this dream job and how far is yet to be achieved. This is known as balanced thinking.
4. Meditation- Buddha was once asked what have you gained from meditation to which he answered, “ I haven’t gained anything but I have lost anger, fear etc.” A highly recommended self- help tool is meditation. Long term practice of sahaja yoga meditation is associated with increased gray matter which is associated with attention, self- control, compassion and bodily awareness.
5. Reach out -Last but not the least, talking to therapist or venting to a trusted confidant can help you discover the silver lining of the cloud.
Remember, it is impossible to not go through a distressing time in your life but it is possible to remain calm and positive during that time. Good luck with life, you got this!!