It goes without saying that it is more pleasant to live positively than negatively, but it can be surprisingly hard to do. It’s one thing to be positive when things are going well, but when they take a downturn, as they sometimes do for everyone, it gets a lot harder.
In fact, you may feel like railing against suggestions to look on the bright side. On top of everything else you are dealing with, you have to think positively too? It may not seem fair, but if you can train yourself to set aside those negative feelings, you can think more clearly and problem solve better:
Put a Time Limit on Negativity
You shouldn’t entirely repress all negative feelings. When you encounter a setback, such as not getting a job you want, give yourself a time limit to feel bad about it. This might be ten minutes, an hour, or even a week depending on what has happened, but at the end of that time, you need to turn to thinking about solutions.
You are still allowed to have your feelings about the event, but eventually you have to start finding a solution.
Problem-Solving with Questions
It’s very common and very human to think things like “why did this happen to me?” or even “what’s wrong with me?” when you don’t get the outcome that you want. By asking yourself different questions, you can start to work toward solving the problem. For example, maybe you have once again overdrawn your bank account. It feels like you never have enough money. The question to ask yourself is, “how can I spend less money each month?” You might cut back on your entertainment budget. If you have student loans, you may be able to save money with a student loan consolidation.
A consolidation can combine different rates and terms so that you just have to make one easy payment each month. You might also use a problem of too little money to spur you to seek a promotion at work.
Learn Life’s Lessons
In addition to taking steps to solve the immediate problem, you can also ask yourself what you have learned from a particular incident. For example, maybe you have been fired from your job. The emotions you feel might be anger, shame, fear or frustration, but what have you learned from the experience? Maybe it is “I should have taken steps to leave a toxic workplace earlier” or perhaps it is “I should have asked for more help when I was struggling with my workload.”
It can be tough to take this long view when you are dealing with strong negative emotions, but it can also help give you some perspective.
It can be easy to get caught in a panicky spiral when you are facing failure. For example, you might think, “If I don’t get this job, I’ll never fulfill my dreams.” However, this is all-or-nothing thinking. Instead, think in terms of the options available. What if you don’t get the job? Then you will look for something else, or maybe you will consider starting a side business. Perhaps it’s time for a career change. Maybe you should go back to school. The important thing about this line of questioning is that you’ll realize there are many pathways you could follow.
We hope the above tips help you live a life full of positivity.
*Photos by Valerie Elash.