I’m not overly positive but I have heard from many of my friends how positive I am. It actually surprised a lot of them for me to say that I did not used to be positive – in fact, I used to be quite negative. Not in an unhealthy way although maybe you can argue that it was but in a, I need to figure out how to change my situation and improve and grow constantly kind of a way. One friend and I used to have a competition to see who could be more negative – a really mutually assured destruction sort of friendly competition but one in which I look back and think, wow that was really unhealthy!
Of course, the benefits of being more positive are numerous: healthy benefits, mindset benefits, productivity, and others – I could link to a number of articles but I’ll just assume that you’re a smart reader and agree (and if not, you can search on the benefits of positivity).
At some point though, I decided that I would stop being so negative and slowly become more positive. Heck, I knew the benefits of being a more positive person but I don’t think that tipped me over the edge – I think what really did it was the effect that it had on the people around me: coworkers, friends, acquaintances – being positive made people around me more positive which had a nice Slowly, over the years, I’ve taken specific steps to change my mindset and become more positive – here are the things that I did and thought about over that time:
Changed how I responded to simple questions
Once, I was chatting with a few friends and I was talking about a boss that I knew who was getting in to work on a Monday morning. Co-workers asked him how his weekend was and he replied back with “Oh my god it was so good that I hurt”. It was incredibly positive and many of my coworkers would make fun of him after. I even started chuckling a little bit as I was recounting the story but then one of my friends said “Oh that’s so great he’s super positive – it probably makes others around him really positive too”. I paused at that moment and thought about what my friend said – it DID make others smile and chuckle and what was really wrong with having an incredible weekend? That’s when I thought that I should do something similar – when people ask me how I’m doing or how I am, I started to reply back with “I’m fantastic!” or “I’m incredible” – and you know that people are not used to such responses when they smile back, act slightly surprised or respond with “oh wow that’s great”. And you know what, even if I didn’t have a great weekend, there’s some cognitive dissonance going on and you actually begin to think that you feel and had a much better weekend than you remember or thought you did.
Assume the positivity in others
Busting balls, making fun, laughing at another’s expense – I know that some of these things are sometimes a part of hanging out with friends and I still do this – but any time my friends even hinted at negativity in some small way – maybe they think that they’re not good enough to get that promotion or awesome enough to get a date with that girl at the bar, I encourage and convince them that they actually are that good or awesome. In the past, I’d look on, stay silent or even make fun of my friends but giving them that slight confidence boost has made them slightly less negative and I think a lot of them realize that the actually feel better around me than other friends who don’t do similar things.
Cut negativity out of your life
Still have people around you that are negative or constantly complaining about how life is unfair? Slowly remove yourself from their lives. Don’t engage or probe. Change topics as needed. These negative people that surround you are not only a drain on your own positivity but those people will slowly bring you around to their level, especially if you hang around a lot of negative people in your life. Make room for the positivity in your life and hang out with positive people and you’ll find that it’s much easier to put on a positive face.
Realize that happiness and positivity are a choice
Happiness and positivity (similar and linked) are not something that happen to you. You don’t wake up happy or positive – you wake up with the choice to be whatever you want to be that day. Sure you can choose whatever is easy and even I don’t like to be positive all the time (and I’m certainly not one of those people that are sickeningly positive on all matters like Alec Baldwin on Friends) but between choosing to be negative or positive, I choose to be positive in the mornings and I live my life and take action to incorporate more positivity in my life.
One of the best and easiest ways that I incorporated more positivity in my life is to think of and reflect on all of the things that I’m grateful for. If you’re reading this post, be thankful that you have an electronic device, wifi and most likely a roof over your head, food to eat and that you are not going to bed hungry. There are lots of things to be grateful for, if only you stopped to think about those things – and when you realize how many things you have in your life (friends, family, a nice car, a warm jacket, etc.) then there’s no room for negativity in your life.
Choose positivity and become more positive! It’s led to me being happier, less stressful, more interested in adventure, hanging out with friends and socializing more, and general contentment with how things are progressing in my life.