There’s tremendous power in having a positive outlook. It affects how you cope with daily life and can impact your relationships. Life is difficult and filled with negativity, which can make it hard to hold on to a positive mindset.
We rounded up five strategies to help you make the shift and empower you to gain a positive perspective, or what we like to call your “secret power.”
Focus on the Lesson or Opportunity
Everyone faces adversity at one point or another. When facing problems, it's easy to get angry and blame others. To focus on the problem. In some situations, this can be excruciating. Death and divorce are tough issues to face and try to find a lesson from, and some of those lessons are hard and painful. But if you can look beyond the pain to find the opportunity or the lesson, any experience can be utterly transformative.
Let’s say you broke your leg and couldn’t participate in your favorite activities for six to eight weeks. Painful. Inconvenient. But you could either use that time to be miserable about not being able to jog or go to your favorite fitness class. Or, you could take up a new hobby and expand your horizons. Either way, your leg’s still broken, but when you shift your perspective, you might just find a little unexpected joy.
Engage in Positive Self-Talk
Negative self-talk tends to magnify negative parts of any given situation. It causes you to blame yourself when things go wrong, anticipate the worst and see life as good or bad without any middle ground. To give your self-talk a positive spin, be encouraging and gentle with yourself. For example, instead of seeing a situation and telling yourself it's too difficult or complicated, tell yourself that you'll approach it using a different angle. Instead of telling yourself you're not getting better at XYZ, tell yourself that you'll give it another try, and you'll try to work it out.
View Situations from a Different Angle
Other people can be disappointing. When you’re let down or angry because of the actions (or inactions) of someone else, it’s easy to get bogged down in a spiral of negative emotions, which isn’t productive for you or for anyone involved. Instead, take a moment and try to look at the situation from the other person's perspective. You might find that you can empathize with that person or maybe even understand what fueled their actions. Even if you can't, try to look at the big picture. When you do that, it’s easier not to “sweat the small stuff.”
Taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically makes it easier to maintain a positive perspective. Try to get eight hours of sleep per night, prioritize physical activity of some sort on most days and minimize your exposure to negativity. For example, if watching the news or scrolling through your social media feed tends to bring you down, set time limits for those activities and fill the rest of your time doing things that uplift and rejuvenate you. Similarly, if you've got people in your life that constantly drag you into their negativity, limit your exposure and try to surround yourself with more positive people.
Research shows that people who take the time for daily meditation are more positive overall. They're also more mindful, they have a robust purpose in life and are more socially and physically healthy. Best of all, you can do it just about anywhere. Meditating as little as 10 minutes per day can help decrease anxiety, increase concentration and help you shift your perspective to a more positive outlook.
Want to give it a try? Find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit or lie down. Set a timer and start breathing deeply. Try a meditation app or just clear your mind and focus on the sensation of your breath as it enters and exits your body. When your mind starts wandering, go back to following your breath. Before you end your meditation, notice your emotions, thoughts and how your body feels.