The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times.
Why being positive matters
We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves.
Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation.
I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok.
We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation.
The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t.
The acceptance of difficulty
To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them.
Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness.
We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts.
I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section.
The benefits of positivity
The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash!
- Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket!
- Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life.
- Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life!
- Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!
- Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about!
There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that?
Tips to become and remain positive
Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way!
- Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it.
- Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions!
- Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. Don’t forget to check out my post on why being nice matters as well!
- Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise
likeyou have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges!
- Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive.
- Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing.
I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!
If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.